Building thought leadership through social media is an essential tactic for any influencer and would-be thought leader.

Though becoming a thought leader isn’t the easy, it is straightforward. By following a few best practices, you can leverage your expertise to grow your audience and build your status as an expert.

What is a Thought Leader?

A thought leader is one who creates conversations, drives discussions, and helps an industry to evolve. Some feel that thought leaders are only those who are at the very top of an industry, while others believe that thought leaders can exist at every scale, from global to local.

Like influencers, thought leaders are regarded as authorities by their industry or niche. Customers, competitors, and business partners look to thought leaders for information and inspiration.

To become a thought leader, one must become an expert among experts and they must become a leader in their field. As with any other business endeavor, this requires a bit of work. Luckily, that job is made easier with online networking tools.

Assuming you are already an expert, follow these 5 key steps to build your thought leadership status with social media:

1. Learn to Communicate Well

Communication is key to building an audience of any kind. If you can’t communicate your ideas succinctly, learn to. Or hire someone who can.

Get your ideas across social media by experimenting with a variety of media formats, from video to infographics to articles. Create content that highlights your expertise and push that content through social media to the right people.

Though many consider themselves to be great communicators, it’s always worth it to get an outside perspective. Since social media is often an outlet for sharing a variety of content, including real-world seminars and speeches, it’s also a good idea to improve your public speaking skills.

2. Connect with Others

Social media is meant to be social, so it shouldn’t be 100% automated. There are two groups you should connect with: influencers and followers.

Influencers and thought leaders can help lend legitimacy to your claims. Climb them like a ladder and leverage discussions with them to build your own status as a thought leader.

Followers, likewise, lend to your status as a thought leader. Without anyone to listen to you, you won’t have any influence and you won’t be considered a leader. To grow your following, engage and interact on a regular basis.

3. Promote Your Credibility and Your Content

Your status as an expert isn’t just backed up by a following, it’s backed up by credentials. These credentials can include everything from diplomas and degrees to published articles and books. Other achievements, such as “bestseller status,” awards and recognitions, leadership positions, and real-world accomplishments also lend credibility.

Make sure that these credentials are displayed and promoted throughout your social media presence. Posts, profiles, bios, and web pages should all highlight your expert status.

Original, regularly published content is another essential requirement. Unless you make your voice heard, no one will listen to you and you won’t have any influence. Find out where your audience is on social media and promote your content to that audience.

4. Social Is Just the Start

Don’t forget that social media is just one part of your thought leadership marketing campaign.

It may be a very important part, but it is only a part. Your campaign should be an extension of your thought leadership campaigns, which should include everything from original content and seminars to books, published articles, PR, SEO, advertising, and so on.

Ensure that your social media campaign is holistically integrated with your other marketing efforts. When you put social in the right place within your marketing funnel, you’ll be able to use social to acquire followers who will listen to you on and off social media.

5. Stay Grounded

Don’t let social media fame and glory get the best of you. When you become enamored by the attention and identify with your celebrity status, it’s easy to become lazy.

Always stay grounded and stay focused on being a thought leader, instead of an online celebrity. With social media, it’s particularly easy to get caught up in the buzz, so think of social media as a tool and only use it to achieve your career aims.

While it’s tempting to lose oneself in the dialogue with followers, it’s important to stay centered on the industry itself. By focusing on the state of the industry, your education and expertise, and your career objectives, it will be easier to steer clear of the celebrity spotlight.

If you don’t avoid this obstacle, you may end up sliding backwards and losing your status as a thought leader.


While becoming an expert, an influencer, and a thought leader is no easy task, it has major benefits. With thought leadership comes career success, profits, and recognition. By using social media as a tool in your toolbox, you’ll be able to fuel your rise to the top of your industry.