Thought leadership is all about building relationships with customers and potential customers. These relationships start with conversations, often on social media, including Twitter.  But what if your customers are not on Twitter? Should you ignore the platform? We argue no, and here’s why.

Using Twitter can help you to develop and hone your thought leadership skills

One of the best things about Twitter is its openness. You can follow anyone. You can therefore use Twitter to explore how other people tell stories, and which ones attract and hold attention. And if your customers are not there, you can also test out your new-found knowledge in a relatively safe environment, and hone the skills you most need to develop as a thought leader in your chosen field.

You can expand your knowledge in your field and beyond

Even as a thought leader and subject matter expert, you can—and should—still learn. Twitter is a very good place to stay abreast of thinking in your field, and expand your knowledge into new or adjacent areas. Following other thought leaders in your field and beyond will mean that you know who’s saying what, and how opinions evolve and change over time. You can also ask questions and target them towards other users by quoting their Twitter handles.

Twitter is becoming more domain-specific over time

Historically, we have thought of Twitter as a generic and general social media channel. However, as people tailor their feed better, it is becoming much more domain-specific—and that means that it is attracting more experts with deeper knowledge. The use of hashtags such as #medicaltwitter and #govtwitter have allowed this to develop more rapidly and usefully.

You may be missing out if your peers and colleagues are using Twitter for work purposes

Your customers may not be on Twitter, but are you sure that your peers and colleagues aren’t using it for anything interesting? Tools like Tweetchats can be a very good way of sharing information or brainstorming particular subjects. They may even be more useful if your customers aren’t there, because you can share ‘warts and all’ information, and brainstorm solutions.

Twitter may be useful for competitive intelligence

Your customers may not be on Twitter, but you can still discover a lot about your market and your competition by simply sitting back and listening carefully on Twitter. The industry press and analysts, not to mention your competition, may all be on Twitter. You can use analytical tools to find out who is saying what, and how much, and search for particular stories. Twitter can even guide you to your customers, because your competitors are probably sharing their other social media via Twitter.

You can use Twitter to improve your website or blog’s Google rankings

Search engines use signals from social media to help rank websites. It’s certainly part of Google’s algorithm, and probably others too. A good Twitter feed can therefore be part of a strong SEO strategy. Having said that, you can’t just up the volume of tweets and expect to see improved search results. Instead, your tweets have to be relevant and useful, and above all, link back to your website or blog in a way that encourages people to follow the link, and then stay and read.

Your Twitter bio is actually a very good SEO tool

Just having an account on Twitter, even without using it, can help your search rankings. This is because you can use your Twitter bio as an SEO tool. You can include a link to your website or blog—and while it is now common knowledge that ‘link stuffing’ is frowned upon by search engines, it is also well-known that they like good (read: useful) links (that is, ones that people use). An interesting bio that prompts the right people to click through to your blog—that is, those who will then stay on and read more—is therefore very good for SEO. 

You can use hashtags as keywords to make your content more discoverable via search

Finally, Twitter has a tool that could have been designed for keywording and SEO, in hashtags. You can use these as keywords, to link your tweets to your subject matter more closely. Twitter itself recommends that you don’t overload your tweets with hashtags, suggesting no more than two or three per tweet, so choose your keywords wisely. 

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