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Tired of Singing the Blues? Be your Industry's Rock Star!


The traditional “soap box” on steroids, social media now broadcasts the voice of thought leaders in a new and electrifying way.

Each social medium, whether it be a micro/blog, web-cast or networked article, is a powerful amplifying system. But combined they are like a turbo charged U2 concert. And just like an open-air gig they will reach audiences who didn’t even buy a ticket.

Thought leaders are innovators. They view the world in which they live differently to others. They articulate these differences, differently; they are not bound by conventional rationality. They assert their insights with a confidence and credibility that attracts and empowers fanatical followers to take further action.

Just as the MTV generation would argue that video actually saved the radio star, social media is the champion of thought leadership in the Twenty-First century; having widened, yet segmented the audience and provided millions with countless opportunities to share their ideas and opinions in a way that has never before been available to them.

Social media is also the ultimate VIP backstage pass – it provides unprecedented access to an arena of thought leaders. You’re just one click away from the likes of Richard Branson, Russel Howcroft and Tim Ferriss, (or at least their social media savvy community managers).

Such superstars along with political leaders, social commentators, celebrities and artists have wised up to leveraging social media to enhance their public profiles and engage directly with their followers to gain greater insights into their markets, constituencies and communities.

So now, it’s your turn to shine.

Although thought leadership is not a new concept, using social media to project your voice further is an innovative process and like music, a precarious balance between science and art.

So here’s 10 Key notes to help you reach the right pitch:

Forget moves like Jagger? Get your own signature style.

Your thought leadership must be reflective of your personality. What makes you YOU will help differentiate yourself from all the noise that exists out there. Whilst it is important to share other’s ideas and engage in open discussions, the majority of your information stream should not be regurgitations of other’s wit or wisdom.

As the thought leader in your industry it is important to be setting, not following trends.

Have you noticed the many incarnations of Madonna over the years? The Queen of Pop defines innovation and has repeatedly re-invented herself without once compromising her own identity. Every reincarnation still captures the essence of her, just as you must manage to find yourself, while evolving with the technologies and social media networks that become available to you.

take action ticket stub Consider where your industry may or should be in five, ten years time. Don’t except the status quo and never fear being a contrarian. These are the leaders who have the tenacity to dance to their own tune, to think outside the square, to risk, to ignore the jeers from the crowd on the sidelines and march to the beat of their own drum.

Why waste your time loitering in the nose-bleed section when you can get front row seats!

Get as close to the action as you can, after all the success of social media is measured in engagement.

It’s not as simple as setting-up a blog or Facebook page or LinkedIn profile; it’s about being active on your platforms. You must be a visible leader, not a back-up singer. You need to be present and active in your industry.

take action ticket stub Comment on other peoples blogs, answer questions, actively seek keynote appointments, network and respond to engagement promptly, sensitively but confidently.

Are the lyrics to your song more important than deciding to go acoustic or electric?

Amongst social media circles there is a raging debate – CONTENT Vs. CHANNEL.

It is imperative for thought leaders to not only consider their message, but who their message is for and how to best reach them. It is important to research: listen to what the audience is saying and where they are saying it.

take action ticket stub Monitor online discussions using keywords relevant to your topic/ideas. Once you have access to these kinds of insights it can help define what are the best platforms to share your wisdom and knowledge.

Know your audience.

Social media provides an unprecedented opportunity to scrutinize target markets; determine not only who people are, in terms of their traditional demographic stats – age, sex, locality, but to actually examine beyond the superficial and learn more about what these people “like”, where they spend their time; what they do professionally, but also what they say, read and buy.

How many times have you walked away from a concert disappointed by your favourite performer’s playlist? Rather than playing the songs everyone knows and loves, they forced-fed a new set that resembled nothing of the music that made them famous in the first place. Whilst it is important to remain innovative, it is imperative to pay attention to your audience’s preferences.

take action ticket stubTake the time to review the analytics social media platforms provide you in relation to how your ideas were received. Observe which of your ideas got the most comments, likes, shares, tweets and Retweets. What’s the common sentiment? And who is engaging in the conversation or raging debate?

Beethoven was deaf but this did not stop him hearing the music, it simply drowned out the distractions.

Even experienced Thought Leaders who are new to social media are often overwhelmed by the vastness of the Tweetosphere let alone the internet.

It’s not surprising when insecurities and self doubts set in. You may wonder, “why would anyone want to hear what I have to say”. The fear of saying something stupid or worst still – something un-profound, can be paralysing.

take action ticket stubHear the music within you. The more confident you are in your audience, your channel and of course your message, the less likely you are to be distracted.

6.	Satisfy the Crowd before they boo you off stage!

Give them what they want. Your audience wants to know what you think. Rather than simply reporting facts you should value-add and share how this information affects you and others. Your unfettered opinions help others to make educated decisions.

How can you help them? What life lessons have you learnt that provide you with a skewed perspective that others could benefit from?

Help solve their problems or empower them to find solutions themselves.

Thought leadership can be summed-up in four words:
Educate. Entertain. Empower and Inspire.

take action ticket stub While “listening” you may have noticed whether your audience joins groups and/or forums and asks questions. These are ideal platforms to respond to queries and demonstrate your experience and understanding of your speciality.

Your knowledge in niche fields gives you your competitive edge. Most industries have become so complicated that only when you specialize and provide value, are you likely to be acknowledged as the best in your field.

Groupies. The success of a band can be measured in the number of devout fans

Just as the social media success of a brand can be measured in the number of followers/ subscribers it has. But like most things it should be about quality not just quantity.

You want those die-hard fans to become champions of, or “evangelists” for your ideas, values and brand (personal or corporate), reaching out into your marketplace, generating excitement and singing your praises as loud and with as much conviction as a gospel choir.

take action ticket stubFollow up on the interest created by your Thought Leadership. Don’t take your popularity for granted. Create closed or invite/members-only groups.

You may think this is counter-intuitive if the object is to build a comment-worthy narrative around your brand and actively supporting the proliferation of your ideas, however, people value that which is perceived to be hard to come by, so you should reward your loyal fans with gestures of exclusivity.

don't just be a one hit wonder

The test of a true Thought Leader is their ability to produce hit after hit, not just topping the charts that one time.
The difference between legends and amateurs is their commitment to their craft. The best musicians don’t just dabble with their music. They practice day-in-day-out. Music is their life!

You don’t have to post daily, but you should take some time each day to refine your skills through research, developing or promoting your ideas as well as cultivating your community by responding or engaging in conversations.

take action ticket stubFind a rhythm and melody that works for you. But again, it is imperative to listen to your audience, as there will be a tempo and volume specific to your market and prime channels.  

Your time is valuable and social media and community management is incredibly time consuming. One way of making sure you produce regular quality content can be to work with others.

The success of new institutions such as the Huffington Post demonstrates the effectiveness and competitive advantage of collaboration between multiple contributors.

Robbie Williams started out in the UK boyband Take That. He knew his own strength, his own talent and never waivered in his quest for fame. He appreciated the value of working as part of a team to develop his skills further and waited for the right time to branch-out on his own. Now after years of solo-success, he’s decided the time’s right to re-form Take That and leverage the cyclic popularity of boy-bands.

take action ticket stubLadyGaGa started out writing songs for others. If you don’t have the time or means to construct your own arena, find ways to contribute to other people’s blogs – editorialise, whatever it takes to sustain your voice.

No more hounding record-executives’ gatekeepers with your demo tapes now it’s all about shameless self-promotion.

You’ve managed to expand your reach through video content, blogging, participating in online forums and virtual conferences, now it’s time take centre stage and leverage those relationships you’ve invested time in; send out press releases, promote your content with targeted online ads, and don’t be afraid to ask for endorsements.

Recommendations are considered to be the most resounding social proof - a standing ovation, if you will, that can be displayed on your LinkedIn profile or on your personal website as testimonials.

Social media helps you to harness your talents and shout them from the Rooftops, leaving your audience begging for an encore.

take action ticket stubIt may be terrifying to stand on the edge of the stage and look out into a mobile-lit sea of opportunity and risk. Rather than closing the curtain - dive right into that moshpit and dare to surf the social media crowd. Only by taking such a leap can you truly unleash your inner-RockStar.

Images by Patrick Galvin, Graphic Designer





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