Thought Leadership is Alive and Thriving on Social Media

Research from Bospar and Reputation Leaders indicates 97% of decision-makers think sharing expert commentary delivers a solid ROI

SAN FRANCISCO – July  12, 2023 – New research from PR agency Bospar and market research firm Reputation Leaders shows that decision-makers consider social media a vital tool for thought leadership creation and consumption. The survey, which gathered the opinions of more than 100 U.S.-based senior business leaders in March 2023, discovered that an overwhelming majority – 97% – believe that thought leadership provides a moderate (5% to 15%) to high (more than 15%) return on investment (ROI), higher than the average U.S. stock market return of 12.4%.

Board members, CEOs, presidents, principals and partners are more than twice as likely (54%) than departmental heads (23%) to believe thought leadership delivers a high ROI.

Leaders turn to social media to promote thought leadership 

Increasingly, social media is where leaders look to promote their thought leadership, supported by face-to-face events. Half (51%) of leaders say face-to-face events is their preferred way to promote thought leadership

Facebook is considered to be best aligned with business strategies (73%), followed by LinkedIn (68%) and Twitter (66%). However, while businesses plan to increase their investment in all three, they are reducing their spending on TikTok — possibly due to its uncertain political status in Western countries.

While CEOs seek Twitter, LinkedIn and speaking at conferences to spotlight their companies, the survey revealed that newsletters and search engine optimization are under-prioritized and overlooked tools in promoting thought leadership. 

Conversely, leaders over-emphasize sharing thought leadership via company website posts, external interviews and unsolicited emails. Few leaders consume thought leadership content via these channels.

Organizational leaders create thought leadership to steer their industry’s conversation, build their reputations, connect to industry experts and reap benefits such as improving prestige and influence, building brand awareness, driving insights and generating new business leads. The survey demonstrates that decision-makers crave quality content.

Decision-makers consume thought leadership to learn

Improving problem-solving skills is the top reason 87% of decision-makers consume thought leadership. They seek out new, informative and well-researched content that challenges their thinking and teaches them different ways to solve problems or innovate. ABC News, Bloomberg, CNBC and CNN are the most viewed media outlets, followed by Forbes, the Economist and BusinessWeek.

When thought leadership does fail, it’s because of poor methodology (44%) and lack of stakeholder buy-in (34%), report survey participants. 

“Thought leadership dead? Not on our watch,” said Curtis Sparrer, Bospar principal and co-founder. “But as media and technology change, how thought leadership is delivered and consumed by leaders is also changing. Our survey clearly demonstrates social media’s importance in crafting thought leadership and building reputations and the need for content that delivers content worth consuming. We are thrilled to partner with Reputation Leaders to provide valuable insights to help businesses create effective thought leadership strategies.” 

One surprising finding is that by a ratio of 5:1, leaders prefer to consume thought leadership from big tech companies like Salesforce and IBM compared to the Big Four consultancies.


In March 2023, Reputation Leaders surveyed 105 US-based senior business leaders. All leaders were C-suite executives, owners, or board members. All are leaders of companies currently producing thought leadership. The leaders surveyed run companies from various sectors, sizes, and regions.

About Reputation Leaders

Reputation Leaders causes people to think about your brand positively and differently, by leading on issues that align brand value with social impact for commercial success. We help companies create credible thought leadership using proprietary global primary and secondary research.Discover how we’ve worked with other brands, and how we can work with you by visiting our website:

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Brent Shelton

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About Bospar

Bospar is the award-winning “politely pushy” tech and health public relations and marketing agency. The firm, which launched in 2015, provides clients with national support thanks to its distributed agency model. Bospar’s staff includes marketing and PR experts and veteran journalists from top-tier tech and business media. The agency’s strategic and creative thinkers excel in earned and social media, analyst and investor relations, content creation and placement, and public affairs. Leaders from brands – including Alkermes, Standigm, Marqeta, Snowflake and Unisys – trust Bospar to drive category leadership for disruptive technologies and solutions.

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