How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image identify thought leaders twitterHow to Identify Thought Leaders on TwitterOut of all the companies actively using Twitter to promote their content to reach a wider audience, I wonder how many are missing some simple tricks and not identifying or engaging with thought leaders?

If you’re one of them, then below is one way that you can achieve this.

Twitter predictive search

When you start typing into Twitter’s search bar, you will see predictive search queries appear based on what Twitter thinks you may want to see.

For example, when you type in ‘social media’ you start to see suggested results for; social media marketing, social media results, social media today and more.

At this stage, each of these predictive search results are potential research opportunities to delve further into. I would make a note of these in an Excel file or Google doc and come back to them for supplementary research.

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image Twitter searchHow to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter

Twitter results filtering

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image twitter resultsHow to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter

Once you select the search query, you will have options to filter your results by; top, all or people you follow – for this exercise of finding thought leaders, ‘top’ and potentially ‘all’ will be of most interest.

  • Top’ will filter by the most relevant Twitter results based on your query and the level of engagement and interactivity surrounding the post
  • All’ – as the filter suggests – will be everything deemed relevant to the query
  • People you follow’ will be everything deemed relevant, filtered only to people you follow

Who are relevant profiles following?

Asking this question will take your thought leadership approach to a natural next stage ie. who is leading the leader? Applying this logic to a number of identified thought leaders will enable you to start to see trends and correlation between identified thought leaders relevant to your search query and who they follow and look to for updates and advice.

Twitter sharers, promoters and retweeters

At this stage, our single goal is not simply finding thought leaders but also getting the most from our content marketing. So whilst we may have now discovered a number of thought leaders, you will want to question whether thought leaders alone will also be the main content sharers, retweeters and people engaging with the content.

An easy step to take whilst in the Twitter main interface is to check some of the most highly commented posts relevant to your query and identify trends with who is engaging with it – bringing into your follower network natural content engagers and sharers will support greater reach and a more active (and naturally increasing) audience.

Tools for Twitter

As with almost every social media platform there are great external tools that you can use specifically for finding and connecting with more people and for getting more out of the social platform.

For Twitter, can be a great tool to help explore who your current follower are, when to engage with them, how to identify more followers and more.

Other tools like can help if you are managing multiple Twitter accounts, allowing you to create repeat searches, keep track of activities and much more.

Who to follow

If you are looking to build on your existing follower base, you can use the ‘who to follow’ recommendations tab to see who Twitter recommends. Don’t forget to dig deeper than the initial highlighted accounts and use the ‘view all’ feature:

How to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter image twitter who to followHow to Identify Thought Leaders on Twitter


It’s surprising how many Twitter posts don’t include #hashtags but they have a great purpose and can certainly lead you in the direction of industry leaders currently discussing key topic areas as well as key trending topics to gather initial engagement.

If I were to leave you with a final tip…don’t forget to look outside of Twitter for lists of key accounts to follow based on other people’s research. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you look to complete research on social media.

Think about search queries like the following and you will discover authoritative thought leader lists from surprisingly good sources (don’t forget to de-generalise these by including a sector):

  • Top 100 Twitter accounts
  • Best Twitter accounts 2013
  • Top 10 people to follow on Twitter

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