Not too long ago, I was asked what my thoughts were on the difference between a thought leader and an influencer. This person is researching the topic, so I thought I’d do some surveying of my network.
It’s an interesting question & I knew my opinion so I asked my Twitterverse. It was exciting to see the conversation go on into the next day. And it stimulated a blog post along with the need for more twitter crowdsourcing.
Here are the responses:
barbchamberlain: @cbensen Not sure I can distinguish (quickly) between thought leader & influencer. Somehow 1st feels–more clean? Not as goal-oriented?
ariherzog: @cbensen Answering your question, @kenburbary considers me a thought leader but @adrielhampton considers me an influencer. Beats me, though.
jnswanson: @cbensen thought leaders? out front. Influencers? along side. Both are necessary.
conniecrosby: @cbensen A thought leader pulls together disparate ideas to find new thinking & directions, communicates it out to others (influencers) 1/2
conniecrosby: @cbensen Influencers are those who help to spread the new ideas, whether from the thought leaders or others. Could be same person, tho. 2/2
heatherrast: @cbensen An influencer can draw a crowd to hear his opinion. A thought leader inspires a crowd to listen, follow, adopt, discuss his work.
SocialMtgExpert: @cbensen …a thought leader be comfortable with their own way (even alone) whereas an influencer is desiring to bring others to their POV?
KTMacOnline: @cbensen a thought leader’s influence may be delayed until people get up to speed that she is on to something. Influencers’ power is now.
juliadalton: @cbensen Thought leader moves things forward and pushes innovation. An influencer, in my opinion, helps make innovations mainstream.
hyermish: @cbensen difference is thought leader has new ideas, influencer spreads ideas. Influencers can be thought leaders, but not always.
lucasclements: @cbensen Thought leaders are not dependent on crowds, influencers require them
missysisk: @cbensen to me, the distinction of an influencer is one that ignites discussion amongst a niche community.
JonBurg: @cbensen thought leaders guide/inform perception. Influencers inspire action. One person can be both, or one or the other.
skyhawke: @cbensen That’s easy. Influencers are akin to secondary research. Thought leaders are akin to primary research
JonBurg: @cbensen you can be a thought leader with readership but no social echo. Influencers generate echo.
This caused us to decide that we should categorize the types of influencers. But I agree that we should let the Twitterverse do it.
JonBurg was inspired to write a blog post on the topic & offers some categories to get us started.
Let us know your thoughts. We will continue to gather the results in a Twitter-tifically method. @AriHerzog & @RyanStephens have offered to help.