Is Being A Thought Leader On Social Media Still Valuable?  Ryan Ayers

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The internet is woven into the very fabric of how we live our lives. You can’t walk anywhere without seeing someone looking at their phone, updating their relationship status, snapping and sharing photos, messaging and watching videos. Did you know that in 2013, 500 million photos were uploaded and shared each day across social media platforms, or that 100 minutes of video content is uploaded each minute to YouTube?

People are using the internet to stay connected not just with friends, loved ones, and colleagues; they’re using the internet (namely social media) to even connect with companies, brands, news outlets, and even government officials.

Businesses on Social Media

Companies and brands are especially taking to these social media platforms and they’re positioning themselves as thought leaders. Those who call themselves a thought leader will have a connection to their followers because they strive to “provide the best and deepest answers to [their] customers’ biggest questions, in the formats your audience likes to consume.”

Now, this isn’t like the fun quips from the Wendy’s Twitter account where they both advertise their food, but also roast competitors and even some customers! We’re talking about those companies like Jeffree Starr or Makeup Geek Marlena Stell who are business owners (both make makeup products) who use their social media to promote their products, review other companies, and really show off their knowledge of their respective niches.

There are even older companies like Hostess Twinkies, Cinnabon, Marvel, the Delorean Motor Company, Lego, and Nintendo who are making a comeback thanks to adapting, making changes to become more modern, and people talking about these brands on social media.

The Benefits of Social Media

In today’s age, companies use social media as another way to reach out to their consumers. It’s content marketing at its finest. It doesn’t matter what goods or services you provide, you can utilize social media.

For the longest time, the only way businesses could advertise was on television, the radio, newspapers and the like. Advertisements like those cost a pretty penny and local or small businesses may not have the budget for it. However, with social media, you can reach a much larger audience for a lot less.

The beauty of social media is the content you create can be liked, shared, and discussed among the community. If the company creates good content that’s worth sharing and being liked, that’s free advertisement! If the company is running a sale or promotion or they want to expand their audience, they can pay the platform to promote a particular post for x-amount of time to x-amount of people – which is quite effective.

When social media is used effectively it has a lot of upside, but what happens when companies or thought leaders use social media and it backfires?

The Hazards of Social Media

Thought leadership is a way to increase your reputation with the public, increase sales, brand affinity and equity. It can generate leads that will drive your sales cycles and improve sales. Some companies are using social media very well and it shows. There are other companies who failed at social media and had to do some serious back peddling to gain get back in their consumers good graces.

Social media can play a damning role in the kind of business you attract. This is especially true for investment firms – about 33% of adults have questioned financial advisors and investment firms because of the information they found on social media; 70% of wealthy investors have even gone so far as reallocating investments, or changing their relationship with their investment provider because of something they found on social media.

Social media has a way of affecting the credibility of a business, especially when people go to the business’ Facebook page and post complaints, talk about negative experiences, or general concerns. An example of this is Purple Mattress and the public outcry as a result of the powder residue in the mattress. The company didn’t disclose what the white powder was, or if it was toxic. Granted, the issue with Purple has cleared up, but that drama tends to stick in the back of consumers minds when considering a future purchase.

Conclusion

Social media is a big game changer in the way businesses cultivate and engage with their audience. Social media can be a double edged sword at times. While it could be used to reinvent or reinvigorate an old campaign or company, social media can also serve as a sounding board for disgruntled consumers. In our opinion though, becoming a thought leader on social media is incredibly valuable – you just have to have great content and know how to roll with the punches, or in the worst case scenario, do damage control.

Additional Resources

Purple Mattress Review: Is the Purple Powder Toxic?– Dengarden. February 9, 2018.

How Social Media Promotes Thought Leadership & Brand Loyalty– Journal. 2017.