Thought leadership

Social media can be really effective in raising your profile, demonstrating your expertise and building a network of people and organisations who share your interests.

From commenting on current events to lifting the lid on research, many scientists, political experts and business leaders use social tools for thought leadership. Blogging and tweeting are both great ways to do this, and the two platforms can complement each other really effectively (by tweeting links to your blog, starting conversations with people on Twitter and using them as the basis for future blog posts).

And well-written, topical blog posts are often picked up by media outlets, and reworked into their own outputs. Blogging’s a great way to raise your profile, when it’s done right.

You can request a WordPress blog, hosted on Sheffield Hallam’s servers, through the staff intranet. You might also want to think about blogging on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform. Anyone with a LinkedIn account can use Pulse, and the interface is very WordPress-friendly (and easy-to-use).

Here are some tips on blogging:

  • As always, start with an objective. What do you want to achieve with each post? With your blog in general? You probably want to inform, but you might also want to entertain.
  • Think about the audience. What do they already know? Why should they care about your post? Empathise with them, don’t overwhelm them, and use plain language (unless your target audience is academic experts).
  • Use a strong headline and intro (numbered lists work well, as do counter-intuitive arguments) to hook the reader, before expanding and delving deeper in the second and third paragraphs. Put the audience at the heart of it – how does the subject affect them?
  • Write for the web. Use subsections, short paragraphs, bullet points and embedded URLs to make each post easy to skim-read. Include relevant visuals where you can, but make sure you have usage rights.
  • Your word count will vary, depending on how deep your diving into the topic, what rich media you’re using, and who your audience is. 7-800 words is a good starting point, 1500 words if you’re writing something crunchy.
  • Tone of voice. Use an active voice, in the first-person, and speak directly to the audience – be conversational. Always use plain language, and use metaphors to illustrate complex points. There’s a whole section on tone of voice in these guidelines.
  • How many people are reading your posts? Is anyone commenting, or responding on social media? How many replies do you get on Twitter? Retweets?
  • Finally, how frequently are you posting? Is it often enough to keep your blog topical and fresh? Once a week is a good target to aim for.

For more advice on blogging, contact us through this blog, or contact the University’s news and PR team. They can deliver training on raising your profile through a range of methods, including blogging.

Further reading: These 6 Types of Content Will Boost Your Traffic and Engagement [Buffer Social], Why Academics Should Blog [Huffington Post], The Thesis Whisperer: Starting an Academic Blog [ YouTube channel], Blogging Students: how to write a student blog []