This conversation of being a thought leader comes up frequently, both from inquiring minds, marketers and from companies seeking to leverage the title. Being a thought leader is both simple and complex – and not something you just grace yourself with. Consider it gifted to you as a title more as a knighthood is bestowed upon those deserving the title.
Thought Leaders is a Person, Not a Brand
I’ve always believed it is something done naturally when one has deep expertise (and perhaps visible credibility, but not always at first) in a topical area. In exploring this in the latest episode of the Digital Well – I try to sort out the best qualities of a thought leader. In my view, it is always an individual and never a brand. Though brands can benefit, as I note in the episode, from cultivating and transparently surfacing their thought leaders – in essence – identifying and promoting those who can serve as brand ambassadors. They get the ability to also show their individual style and allow your audience and customers to see the human element of your organization as well.
The Four Quadrants of Social Media
The four quadrants of social media I reference in the podcast is below – many will recognize it as a common slide in my presentations. It is important to explore these as they make sense for you and your organization. Just as nobody wakes up and says, “hey, I’m a thought leader”, they also do not seek to be all things to all people. Explore these quadrants and determine your strengths – and plot out how you will cover these four bases – and who needs to participate to make that a success.
Your team will develop and mature in handling content, conversations and engagement across these disciplines, and your thought leaders will naturally emerge. Take the time to get this right and, with a little patience, your brand will soon see your audience and customers embracing those individuals showing expertise and willingness to engage.