June 08, 2018

Build your brand: the first step to becoming a thought leader

There are many compelling reasons to become an influencer in your company or industry. Ahead of Social Media Day, our own Social Media Marketing Manager Michael Gregoris shares some tips and tactics for HR leaders to build their thought-leadership profiles, starting with building your brand.

Michael Gregoris

Michael is Ceridian's social media marketing manager, where he is responsible for all of Ceridian's social platforms, from audience growth to content performance. He has a strict "no tweeting and driving" policy.

In a previous post, we talked about how employee influencers can be indispensable assets to their organizations. But what about you? Whether you’re an HR professional or part of your company’s executive team, there are many compelling reasons to become an influencer in your company or industry.

For example, you can build your profile to become a reputable thought leader and subject matter expert, advance your career, and access new opportunities within your industry. In turn, this will also grow your company’s social media footprint by having a positive impact on its reputation, and by leading by example and setting a good precedent for employees.

Be warned: success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time, patience and effort to build an audience, which is vital to achieving influencer status. There are two key activities in this process. First, build your brand (which we’ll dive into in this post), and then grow your circle of influence. Here are a few tips to start you on your journey.

Build your brand

Get your social media house in order

Pick the social media platform(s) that are right for you. Some of the must-haves for B2B and B2C organizations include LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Most people like to keep their worlds – personal and business separate – so don’t be surprised if, from a B2B perspective, you don’t see as much success with Facebook, which tends to be friendlier for consumer-facing businesses. i

Then, update your profile assets to accurately reflect who you are and what you represent. This includes your profile photo, bio, and backgrounds or hero images. Ask yourself: what do you want to impress upon those who check you out? How do you want to be perceived? Are you an eccentric, quirky outlier? A serious corporate businessperson? This process is all about first impressions.

Craft a content strategy – and start publishing

You can’t just “become” an influencer or thought leader – you need to take authentic steps to grow your profile. A great way to gain initial traction is to become an advocate of your company. That means championing your company’s content and values.

An employee advocate generates positive exposure and raises awareness for their brand by highlighting major announcements, like company product releases, award wins, CSR activities, and day-in-the life mixed media (audio, video and images), as a few examples. Add your own perspective when sharing this content – don’t be the person who shares everything without commentary. Why? You’ll fade into the noise, and you’ll miss an opportunity to define your own brand, style and voice, as well as miss a chance for others to learn more about who you are.

Once you’ve reached a comfortable point as an employee advocate, add content that’s more related to your personal life – issues and causes you’re passionate about, for example. Aim for an 80/20 mix of professional versus personal content.

Part of becoming a thought leader is being genuine – people respond to that. Stick to what you like doing and what you know, and grow from there. Don’t try to copy another influencer or leader in your company or industry – develop your own style and use it.

Find and follow the people that matter to you

A helpful tactic to build your initial following is by following other people that matter to you. Think of them in three buckets:

  • Close friends and family
    • Why? Because you need to build social media “traction.” In other words, your social media accounts need followers and your content needs likes and/or shares. Friends and family will often always follow you back, and like and share your content.
  • Colleagues (current and former)
    • Like friends and family, these folks know you well, and should generally be considered supportive of your cause.
  • Analysts, writers, and content publishers or organizations
    • This group comprises other influencers with whom you can participate in meaningful conversations. Comment on their posts, or provide your perspective. How do you wade through the ever-growing community of influencers? If they’re relevant to your line of work and what you’re passionate about, follow them.  

At this point, you’re well-equipped to begin establishing your unique voice in the marketplace. In my next post, I’ll share some tips and tactics for building on that traction to grow your network.

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