B2B thought leadership is the pinnacle of success for any business leader. As a thought leader, you become the leading authority within your industry, with a commanding presence that others look to for upcoming trends and advice.
In fact, thought leadership is one of best ways to...
- Build brand awareness
- Nurture trust
- Establish your own personal brand
- Attract new prospects and leads
As a B2B thought leader, you know the importance of defining yourselt in a way that sets you apart from the swarms of self-appointed experts flooding today's business world. Social media platforms help you to do just that. Social media is a key way to enhance the validity of your brand, and provide solid proof that you deliver what you promise.
But not just any social network will do. The top three social networks for B2B businesses include LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Let's look at how you can leverage each of these social networks to reach your thought leadership goals.
How to Use Social Media to Support B2B Thought Leadership
LinkedIn & Its Power for B2B Business
LinkedIn holds incredible potential for your business. For instance, it offers you 450 million active users who are conveniently at your fingertips. It is one of the foremost networks where businesses research industry issues and solutions -- making it a must-have for any B2B business.
Bottom line, LinkedIn can connect you with your target audience in the B2B field. Just like any tool, Linkedin is most useful when wielded properly.
The first step is to create a powerful summary in your profile, which can be a great boon to your thought leadership strategy.
Leaving your summary blank is equivalent to sitting down at an interview and just handing over your resume without saying a word. Your summary is essentially your first impression. It's comparable to that moment where your potential employer asks you to tell her about yourself. You certainly don't want to draw a blank when that happens.
Follow these helpful tips to create a killer Linkedin profile summary and watch your success as a B2B thought leader skyrocket:
- Define yourself clearly. When considering ourselves in a professional light we tend to define what we see one-dimensionally. We may think in terms of concrete facts; what we have accomplished, where we have worked. However, that tells others little about us a person. Think of how you would like to be perceived, what distinguishes you. This is the topic of your summary.
- Use your words. Key words, that is. Choose words that are likely to be used in search engines. For instance, instead of "marketing director," choose "experienced marketing director." Once you have nailed down a few words that clearly define you as a person and what you do, utilize each of them at least three times throughout your summary. This is what's known as search engine optimization, or SEO. It means that by using those key words in your summary you increase the odds that someone searching under those terms will find you.
- Use all 2,000 characters allowed. Linkedin generously allows 2,000 characters for a summary, which means ample opportunites for using your keywords. It's as if you have a silent audience that is asking about who you are. One or two sentences will likely not provide the "wow" factor a prospect is seeking.
- Tell a Story. Since you are not meeting face-to-face it can be difficult to let your personality shine through. The next best thing is to tell a story that will articulate who you are. People love to read engaging content, and your goal is to make it compelling enough for the reader to reach out to you. Linkedin gives us some great examples worthy of imitation.
- Break it up. One long paragraph is going to make the reader quickly hit the back button. Break up your summary into headers, and even sub-headers. Make sure to include your key word in your heading for SEO purposes. Everyone is pressed for time these days, so be sensitive to the time limitations of your audience and make sure they can see the highlights of your summary quickly.
- Create and share content. Linkedin lets users share their content on its website, which is great news for thought leaders. Include links to your posts in your summary. Remember to sprinkle your post with keywords and link to your profile.
Linkedin is an incredible tool for today's B2B thought leader, and using it properly can yield the greatest success!
Check out this example from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Not only is his LinkedIn summary engaging and informative, but he keeps his audience plugged in with a regular stream of published content on a range of industry issues.
Twitter & Customer Engagement
There are an estimated 328 million active monthly users on Twitter -- a large potential audience at your disposal.
Twitter is a powerful tool to use on your road to becoming a thought leader. In fact, 47% of marketers agreed that Twitter is the number one social network for customer engagement.
Here are a few helpful tips to make the most out of Twitter for your thought leadership goals.
- Build up followers. Twitter is all about followers. The number of followers you have contributes to your credibility. Take the first step and reach out to follow others -- many times, they will reciprocate by following you in return. As your content base and thought leadership material grows, so will your following.
- Create content. Your blog is an ideal channel to prove your credentials as a thought leader. This content should not be self-promotional in any way. Instead, write about issues that currently face your industry. Provide meaningful solutions to problems that your audience faces. Your content establishes trust between you and your followers on Twitter. The more they like your content, the more they will retweet it, and your audience will grow.
- Curate content. Don't be limited by the amount of content you yourself can create. Content curation is a helpful way to feed your hungry audience's need for content and news while not exhausting your own resources. Share news and trending topics that your audience will gratefully devour.
- Engage. Twitter is all about engagement -- likes, comments, and retweets are the fuel that keeps your thought leadership machine running. Strategically engage with your current audience and customers, as well as your target audience. Want to interact with influencers? Find them, retweet their content, and leave meaningful comments on their tweets -- such favors will put you in their line of vision.
- Be consistent. No matter what your content strategy (creation or curation), the key is consistency. Keep a regular schedule of content so that your audience remembers you and remains engaged. Use a content calendar to help you stay on top of your Twitter posting schedule.
Take this Twitter example from Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of Hubspot, the leading platform for inbound marketing. His regular stream of pertinent content helps his audience stay on top of industry issues, and cements his place as a thought leader.
Facebook & Its Extreme Reach
Facebook is by far the most popular social network on the scene today -- with over 2 billion monthly active users. It has by far the most social interactions and largest audience of all three networks we've discussed in this post.
- Engage. This is probably the most important part of every effective social media strategy. On Facebook this means comments, shares, and likes. Create and share content that is of interest to your audience. Ask questions and make statements that grab and maintain the attention of your audience.
- Be human. Facebook audiences crave a human touch. Whether it's your passion for a particular social cause or a personality quirk, let your audience see that side of you. Facebook audiences want to follow humans -- not impersonal, distant businesses. To that end, be unique, authentic, and warm in all of your interactions on Facebook
- Use Live video. Facebook Live is an incredible tool for real-time audience engagement -- and it's completely free! Use it as much as you can to provide valuable content to your audience. Take to Facebook Live with a Q and A style video, schedule and stage a live webinar, or interview a top figure within the industry. All of these things helps your audience to feel truly engaged and turn to you as a thought leader.
- Don't just talk about yourself. Facebook is not the place for self-promotion. Instead, turn the spotlight on issues that are arising in your industry, and contribute to a meaningful solution. Your role as a thought leader is to be part of the conversation, not to be the conversation.
Take the example of thought leader, Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard. Her regular stream of content (including video) shows us her expertise, while her interest in the environment and other social causes showcases her human side.
Key Points to Remember...
- Pay special attention to your LinkedIn summary, and make sure it represents you well
- Use LinkedIn publishing to create memorable thought leadership content
- Create and curate content on a consistent schedule on Twitter to fully engage your audience
- Use Facebook's Live video tool to satisfy your audience's need for human interaction
Thought leadership strategy goes beyond simple expertise -- knowing how to leverage that expertise on the above social networks will help you to reach your thought leadership goals.
How have you used Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook to promote your thought leadership? Let me know in the comments below!
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- Nailed It! 5 Ways to Create a Killer LinkedIn Summary