On more than one occasion, we’ve had potential clients ask us to make them thought leaders.
Ignoring for this conversation the many problems with the term “thought leadership” (which we ourselves often use), this is an interesting proposition. While an outside organization like Social Media Contractors certainly can come in and help you create great content that’s original to your space, true leadership of thought must originate from within.
Imagine for a moment a company that rents server space to clients who don’t want to operate their own data centers. With the help of an outside organization, that company publishes a blog about the future of cloud computing in 2015 under the name of an individual within the company who specializes in that area. It’s a good blog—in fact, it’s a great blog—but the individual within the company doesn’t read it and isn’t bought into the idea of the blog.
One day, a client comes up to that individual and says, “Hey, Mike—I loved the blog you wrote about cloud computing. Your point on the viability of the public cloud in enterprise applications was great.” Having not read the blog, Mike doesn’t know what the client is talking about—he didn’t even know there was a blog about cloud computing. All of a sudden, the content that may have been great on its own becomes detrimental.
That’s probably the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario is that the blog continues to publish and goes off without a hitch, creating great content that readers like and share. But even then, how useful is a blog striving to be “thought leadership” without the actual input of thought leaders within the organization?
It’s a bit like a tandem bicycle. If we pedal equally to meet our goal, we’ll get there quickly and efficiently. But if you’re not sold and we’re doing all the pedaling, it’s going to be tough to keep momentum through the hills and valleys along the way. An organization that fully commits to its content efforts will develop great ideas internally and then will work with an outside party like SMC to develop those ideas, scrap the bad ones, hone the good ones and then, ultimately, write and publish the content.
The idea of even becoming a thought leader involves more commitment than you might think—namely, developing great ideas and knowing how to share them. Becoming a thought leader isn’t as simple as saying, “Hey, I want to be a thought leader. Make it so.” It takes time, effort, outside consultation and, most importantly, great ideas from within. A strategy for thought leadership needs to be robust and consistent—and that’s just not possible without the full involvement of your team.
If you want to be a thought leader, that’s great. But don’t expect it to happen without a good bit of effort and input about your brand, your business and how you want to be perceived.
We’ll help you publish great content. We’ll extract ideas fro your team. We’ll even help get your team on board with the idea of publishing regularly. But at the end of the day, for sustainable, personal and unique idea generation, you have to start by making sure your team buys in. Only you know your business inside and out, and if you can’t get your team excited about the prospect of publishing, there’s only so much an outside organization can do.
Image credit: CC by Tesla Club Belgium