Everyone wants advice and insight on overcoming life's biggest challenges. Successful business leaders are often at the top of the list of trustworthy thinkers who are successfully navigating tough problems and coming out on top. Today's most influential futurists, analysts, and forecasters are shaping minds on social media by drawing from their own experience. Follow them and learn from them. Once you've gotten the hang of how they do it, the next step is to harness your own brand's internal knowledge base and define your business as a mover and shaker with a finger on the pulse. To get started, read our ebook on social media for executives, our essential guide to working with influencers, and finally the ins and outs of trendspotting.
These days tweets and Instagram posts are a dime a dozen. All it takes is a few strokes of the keyboard for aspiring influencers (and self-proclaimed futurists, analysts, and forecasters) to share their latest hot take on a variety of subjects.
It seems that the more content that people share, the more important it becomes to seek out those that cut through the noise. Influencers that rely on a combination of facts, data, and intuition to elevate their content are a breath of fresh air in what can otherwise be a crowded online community.
That’s exactly why we scoured social media to find the very best industry analysts, economists, forecasters, and brands that are shaping the way we think.
These influential futurists are worth a follow.
The Most Influential Futurists, Analysts, and Forecasters on Social Media
One individual futurist that has become somewhat of a legend on Twitter is Naval.
Naval Ravikant is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList and has invested in more than 100 companies, including Uber, Twitter, Yammer, and many others. He’s a deep thinker and offers counterintuitive perspectives to many of life’s biggest challenges such as happiness, wealth, and careers.
How to Get Rich (without getting lucky):— Naval (@naval) May 31, 2018
What makes Naval’s content so unique is that he’s able to connect seemingly unrelated topics and turn them into actionable advice. That advice is straightforward and simple, yet incredibly insightful.
Reading Naval’s content is a great reminder to all of us that it doesn’t take complicated messaging or marketing hacks to inspire action.
A former member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, Betsy Stevenson is a must-follow futurist focused on shedding light on complex economic issues. From affordable housing to the health of the U.S. workforce, Stevenson uses social media as a platform to voice change.
There are two ways to look at employment growth--from the employer survey and the household survey. The employer survey gives a more accurate read, but it's still worthwhile to look at the household survey and it shows that employment has grown by only 64K since January. [1/3]— Betsey Stevenson (@BetseyStevenson) June 7, 2019
What makes Stevenson’s message so powerful is that she strategically blends the objective (facts, data, and research) with the subjects (strong narrative).
Data-backed storytelling plays a pivotal role in triggering an emotional and intellectual pulse that captures your audience’s attention and keeps them coming back for more.
James Clear is an American author, entrepreneur, and photographer who writes about habits and human potential. As his website states, the central question he’s trying to answer through his work is, “How can we live better?“
What makes James such an intriguing futurist is his focus on the individual person and their potential impact. He believes that the best way to change the world is in concentric circles—starting with yourself and work your way out from there.
If you want to be in the top 1% of a particular domain, then you can’t take your cues from and follow the social norms of 99% of people.— James Clear (@JamesClear) May 30, 2019
This is harder than it sounds. We are wired to imitate. The further you want to climb, the more carefully you need to construct your tribe.
Similar to other top influencers, James’ message is relatable and easily understood (there’s that theme again). The more difficult a problem is to solve the more important it is to break it down into simple, easily explainable terms.
As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
The Most Influential Brands
Now let’s switch our focus to some of social media’s most influential companies and how even brand accounts can help enact positive change.
Storytelling is a superpower that can be harnessed by companies and brands to shape the future.
The team at First Round have mastered the art of storytelling and it is reflected in the quality of their content and the more than 200,000 people that follow them on social media.
"Inflection points are just sustained implementation of a very reasonable thing. Often, the role of the great leader is not to come up with a brilliant strategy, but to convince people to stay the course with a very basic strategy." — @stripe's @Lethainhttps://t.co/2E8aoUS3ox pic.twitter.com/ubCarcaxBC— First Round (@firstround) May 30, 2019
Great storytelling is about taking a piece of the human condition (so things like birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict) and conveying it in a unique situation. Acclaimed Pixar director Pete Docter puts it perfectly:
“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way. And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.”
First Round leverages stories from their community to impact the journey of current and future entrepreneurs.
Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)
A brand would have a tough time being classified as a “futurist” if they didn’t embrace technology of the future to share their message with the world. Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) leverages YouTube to create content centred around educating an audience of more than 35,000.
But what truly makes a16z a must-follow futurist brand on social media is their PR and content marketing strategy.
Avoiding the generic, their team covers heavy topics like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cryptocurrency, machine learning, and lots more.
The Andreessen Horowitz team understands that you don’t need to convince everyone to subscribe to your content to be successful—all you really need is a small, dedicated group of individuals.
Many venture capital firms follow more or less the same power law of returns investment strategy. Whether this strategy entails investing in a certain geography, demographic, or trend, differentiation between VCs is hard to come by.
However, Sequoia Capital is bucking that trend and making a name for themselves by developing thought leadership in a future led by entrepreneurs. They are able to accomplish this by publishing a world-class weekly newsletter called Seven Questions.
While many brands stick to traditional websites and social media channels to distribute their content online, Sequoia Capital is building an owned media outlet that allows them to control the results.
The Seven Questions content strategy is simple: hard-won advice to founders.
As any great futurist knows, solutions to life’s most difficult problems do not come easy. But the more we can learn from those that have gone before us, the better we can position ourselves for success in the future.
You can’t predict the future without first studying the past and Sequoia understands that better than most brands.
3 Takeaways from the Most Influential Futurists, Analysts, and Forecasters
Before we go, we wanted to leave you with three key concepts from these social influencers and what makes them so successful:
- Persuading a large group of people to adopt a new idea often requires breaking down complex topics into easily digestible themes and concepts. The simpler the better.
- Individual people can make a big impact by aligning with other individual people. Those individuals slowly form a group and eventually a large community.
- Life’s most difficult challenges are not easily overcome. Solving these challenges takes patience and persistence as well as the dissemination of relevant and useful information to an engaged audience.
Next Steps: What About Your Brand?
The untapped expertise at your company could be a social media gold mine when harnessed the right way. Chances are your executives are keeping track of industry trends and the social zeitgeist. Are they ready to take the plunge and position themselves—and your brand—as forward thinkers who are defining their market? Read our ebook on social media for executives, as well as our essential guide to working with influencers and learn the latest best practices on expanding your audience on social media by sharing your company’s thought leadership.