The Importance of Thought Leaders and Influencers in the Age of Social Media

Who are Thought Leaders and Why they are Important?

We often hear the terms, Thought Leaders and Influencers, being bandied about in the media and among business circles.

When people talk about them, it is usually with a tone of respect and awe and admiration. This is more of the case with those who are active on social media as well as those engaged in branding and digital marketing wherein they refer to these individuals as being very important for marketing success.

So, who exactly are Thought Leaders and Influencers and why are they so important?

To start with, Thought Leaders are those who provide direction and guidance to businesses, governmental and nongovernmental organisations, laypersons, readers, and just about anyone who are interested in understanding future trends, present events, and lessons from the past events.

In other words, Thought Leaders are those who by virtue of their intellect and intelligence and due to their unique insights into work and life function like the Oracles of yesteryear wherein they parley their knowledge and skills to comment about the past, present, and the future.

This is the reason why they are invited to lectures, consulting assignments, and are sought out for advice on everything from how to run businesses to their help in interpreting the “signals and the trends” shaping our future.

Who are Influencers and why they are so important?

Turning to Influencers, these individuals perform more or less the same roles of the Thought Leaders except that their main mode of operation is on Social Media.

While Thought Leaders sometimes publish papers and journal articles as well as bring out Whitepapers and attend conferences, Influencers too do some or all of these things except that they derive their power from their huge follower base on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Indeed, as the term implies, Influencers are those who can persuade and influence their followers to adopt or desist from a particular course of action.

In times when social media has become the medium of choice for everything related to work and life, the power of Influencers is such that they can make or mar the chances of all of us.

For instance, if an Influencer on Instagram posts a negative review about a particular brand, chances are that the sales of such brands can be impacted negatively since their followers swear by them and hence, this is the reason why marketers like to keep the Influencers in good humour.

Are we Placing Thought Leaders and Influencers on a Pedestal?

Having said that, there are some dissenting voices who protest that Thought Leaders and Influencers are being given too much importance and more so, the fact that social media has become an unruly and chaotic jungle means that it is time that these individuals were reined in.

The line of thinking behind this feeling is that even if there are some good aspects of Thought Leaders and Influencers and their posts making the world a better place, there are allegations that they are abusing their prominence and influences for purposes that are not necessarily ideal or for that matter, desirable.

Indeed, in recent months, there have been media reports on how Influencers on social media are taking money and other inducements to promote certain political parties and to write negative posts about the others.

Moreover, there is also a feeling that Thought Leaders and Influencers who are in a position to influence Young Minds are not exactly being responsible with their words and actions on social media.

While it is no one’s case that these individuals should not make money or profit from their position, it is definitely a matter of concern if they abuse their power.

Why Social Media Needs Thought Leaders and Influencers?

On the other hand, the Cacophony of Social Media is such that we tend to gravitate towards and coalesce around a few individuals with a large follower base as their popularity and followership means that we gain from their insights.

Moreover, when we quote them in our everyday work and life, chances are that our audiences would be more receptive and familiar with leading Thought Leaders and Influencers which would provide our presentations and speeches with more traction.

Therefore, these individuals do play an important role in communicating what they think present events mean how the past shapes our future and other such insights.

In addition, while Influencers on social media can be anyone from Movie Stars to Sportspersons to Media celebrities, Thought Leaders occupy a special place especially as they provide intellectual guidance to us.

Therefore, while each of these individuals focus on a specific niche, their combined and collective efforts mean that we benefit from their knowledge and wisdom. As mentioned earlier, each age has such individuals and the viral nature of social media means that their importance in the present times is magnified more.

Thus, these are some of the reasons why Thought Leaders and Influencers are important in the Age of Social Media.

Some Concluding Thoughts

Lastly, while anyone can become a self proclaimed Thought Leader or Influencer, the proof of their success lies in how viral their posts become and how many followers as well as the diversity and spread of their base is concerned.

In other words, it takes much to become a leading figure on social media if one excludes politicians and celebrities and hence, these individuals have certainly earned their prominence.

To conclude, the next time you run across a Thought Leader or an Influencer on social media, remember the points we made here and then decide for yourself whether you want to follow them on social media.

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