Consulting Firms Prioritize Thought Leadership vs. Thought Leaders in their Social Media Strategy

Who is the face of your firm?

The success of a consulting firm relies entirely on the experience and insights of their thought leaders.  But in our recent study of how 46 management consulting firms use social media, we found that most make it challenging for clients and prospects to find — let alone directly engage — with their thought leaders.

In fact, our website audit found that most firms didn’t even associate thought leaders with their “thoughts” (or body of work) on their own sites.  Not surprisingly then, the use of social media strategies – which requires a regular “face of the firm” – was low among consulting firms, with a few notable exceptions.


Website Audit:

  • While most firms’ Web sites were “content rich” and informative and easy to navigate— nearly 30% of Web sites failed to identify any thought leaders at all.
  • Only 19% of firms organized their Web site in a way that directly linked the thought-leader to their body of work for the firm—such as bylined articles, presentations at conferences and media quotes. However, CRA International is an innovator in this area.
  • Only 41% used multimedia tools such as podcasts and vodcasts to reinforce thought leadership; these tools were over-represented in large IT and Strategy consulting firms.

Social Media:

 Blog Abandonment Syndrome

  • Of the seven firms (15%) that had one or more blogs, only three firms had blogs with “active” communities or more than two comments on average per post. Monitor’s Now, New and Next blog is an exception.  It inspires healthy commentary and debate from subscribers.

Experience with Social Media “Outposts”

  •  To date, consulting firms have very limited experience with social media applications such as Twitter (26%), YouTube (35%) and Slideshare (13%).
  • Of the 46 firms, 30 have group(s) on Facebook, but 15 of the firms have “closed” groups.
  • While the largest strategy firms are acquainted with the aforementioned social media applications, they tend to use them primarily for “blasting” company information. Virtually every firm except McKinsey fell short on the most important aspect of developing an effective social media outpost strategy: conversational engagement.

Consulting firms have a natural head-start in social media with (1) proprietary content and (2) credible thought-leaders.  Now is the time to use social media to get the word out — before your competitors do.  But remember it’s not just about delivering the message.  It’s about starting a conversation and learning from each other.

What have you done to identify and champion the thought leaders in your organization?

(photo by brianfit)

To reach Elizabeth:

Phone: 212.840.0017
Twitter: @elizabethsosnow
LinkedIn: Elizabeth Sosnow