Leaders in creative industries like publishing, film, and music often operate differently than leaders in analytical fields, but one similarity they share is a need for strong personal platforms. If an artist doesn't have a specific audience to interact with on social media or at events, their work is far less likely to sell. The same is true for business speakers, consultants, and thought leaders trying to share their messages with the world. You may have a wealth of work and knowledge, but it does no good if people don't know about it.

Despite the importance of platform for thought leaders, it can often be difficult to quantify what a platform is, or what a successful one looks like. Broadly speaking, your platform will consist of the content you produce, the look and message of your brand, and the audience that follows you. Here are a few ways to quantify the success of your platform as it grows.

1) Engagement

Have you ever stumbled upon a Twitter account that had a high number of followers, but no conversations or acknowledgement of the content? The account's owner may have focused solely on building their follower count without engaging with any of the people in that audience, which creates a lifeless, if crowded, social media space. While high numbers of followers look impressive at first glance, it's engagement that builds relationships and can result in product sales if that's your goal.

Whether you have thousands of followers or less than one hundred, respond to comments on your content, and like, share, or comment on the content of others in your space. Rather than trying to get the highest number of followers possible, focus on befriending the people who are interested in the same things you're passionate about, just as you would if you were trying to network at an industry event. Just as people who are interested in your work will approach you at an event to introduce themselves, comments likes, and direct outreach from your online followers mean you're on the right track.

2) Consistency

Consistency isn't glamorous, but it's critical to build a solid platform. It's disheartening to stumble upon an impressive-looking thought leader, then realize that they rarely update their blog, send out newsletters at random times, or aren't responsive on social media. The message you send when you're not consistent online is that you may be just as unreliable in a business partnership or at an event.

Block off consistent time to write and post on your blog, record a new video, or send out a newsletter. Hold yourself accountable to showing up when you say you will, and expect the same from other thought leaders.

3) Cohesion and Clarity

If the various elements of a platform like a website, social media accounts, a newsletter, or speaking materials seem disjointed aesthetically and in their message, it probably means that the person's goals for their platform are not fully formed. If all of the materials and spaces associated with you don't connect well with one another, people are less likely to see you as decisive and strategic, which damages your credibility. To make sure that your platform looks thoughtful and professional, enlist the help of experts in design and branding.   

4) Recognition

One of the best ways to build an audience is to get attention from another influencer or organization in your space. This could look like a good conversation on social media, being a guest on a podcast, or winning an industry award. The more you are affirmed by other people with strong platforms, the more legitimacy you earn.

Keep in mind that recognition looks different for everyone. The majority of us won't win Nobel Prizes or mingle with former presidents, but those high-profile accomplishments don't fit everyone's goals. If your topic caters to a niche audience, but both peers and fans constantly seek you out for insights, your platform is doing  its job well.