Using Twitter to Create Authority
Being An Authority on Anything Beats Being An Expert. One Of The Hardest Parts of Creating Authority is Being Visible. Using Twitter To Create Visible Authority is My Answer
No one listens to a nobody, and now that experts are two a penny it’s even harder to be heard by the influencers and decision-makers we need to engage. So amid the noise of social media, keynotes, podcasts, videos, and all the other paraphernalia of PR and recognition how can we be heard?
It’s not enough to write great content, write a book, have followers on Facebook, LinkedIn or some of the hundreds of lesser social media. It generally doesn’t work because we are largely invisible amongst the noise and because the serious influencers and decision-makers in many sectors often don’t see our books, columns or videos.
This is especially true in my sector, education, especially the Further Education subsector and colleges in particular.
In the next paragraphs I’ll show more detail about this sector, but the principle applies to many sectors.
Using Twitter To Create Authority Step One
Step one is to identify the key sector influencers and decisionmakers. In the FE sector they are clearly college principals / CEOs; plus sector-specific editors and columnists; the CEOs of relevant associated bodies such as the Association of Colleges, AELPS, etc.; senior civil servants, Government Ministers, the authors of various education reports whether government-sponsored or otherwise; relevant MPs (eg Chair of Education Select Committee); CEOs of Awarding bodies (eg City and Guilds); senior people in government departments such as Ofsted, ESFA; the FE Commissioner etc.
Using Twitter to Create Authority Step Two
When profile the above its interesting to note that they are predominantly hard to reach. Very few of them are active in the “usual places”. For example, many of them aren’t on LinkedIn, those that are aren’t very active and, in some cases, those that are active use a PA or similar to manage their profile.
Of course, most have an email address. But again they will often use a PA to screen emails and we have to get past the gatekeeper to gain even low-level visibility.
Where I do find many of them is on Twitter. They seem to like the short sharp succinctness of Twitter and engage more freely. And whereas they may not follow you immediately they are do follow others of their tribe. And if I respond to someone they follow they have an opportunity to see my post and like, retweet, or retweet it with a comment.
Effective Communications Channel
It’s not for everyone but I find Twitter a very effective means of getting in front of influencers and decision-makers. Only last week a very well known ex-principal wrote a lengthy article based on something I’d posted. And today I’ve responded/replied to a post by the editor of a sector-specific news publication and my comments have been seen, liked and/or retweeted by several very influential people.
Here’s my comment in response to a tweet by FE Week editor/owner, Nick Linford.
It was in reply to Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman & Baroness, Alison Wolf, Author of the Wolf Report on Vocational Education. Engaging with those that chair government committees and write government-sponsored reports is worth doing in this sector.
Others being responded to included Damian Hinds MP, Tom Richmond, of EDS Think Tank and Shadow Minister Emma Hardy MP.
Those retweeting included academic Prof. Rachel Lofthouse, Professor of Teacher Education at Leeds Birkbeck.
Naturally this doesn’t mean they will all be knocking at my door in the next 24 hours. But being seen by these people is a vital step in being recognised. Indeed a similar post led to an approach to speak at a Westminster event focusing on the governance of education.
The other thing to consider here is that rather than them reading something sent to them by email, they have “discovered” my thoughts for themselves. The psychology here runs deep. People often value what they discover for themselves more than that which is fed to them.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer but once we see swallows every day we know summer has arrived. So it is with authority. We need to be frequently seen AND be providing value when seen. But before we can provide value, perhaps in the form of thought leadership, we must first be visible.
Whereas this isn’t the one and only answer to building Authority, I do think it shows that Twitter is one of the great hidden secrets in Authority Visibility. It’s often denigrated as being frivolous, and full of trolls, but I find there are hidden depths to it and my audience of influencers are there. And I’ll certainly be Using Twitter to Create Authority much more in future.