Recently, a regular LinkedIn blogger, Mindy Gibbins-Klein wrote a thought provoking article about content marketing and what an over-used and abused description that is for putting your key messages out for the world to read. In the first instance content could mean just about anything you care to write, talk about, or post on YouTube, and secondly there is content in almost everything, except perhaps a vacuum. And what is marketing about if it is not about content; think strategies, plans and marketing programmes, they are all about content. Shouldn’t content marketing contain unique material, interesting ideas, and yes, be thought provoking? Or should that be called Thought Leadership?
So ‘thought leadership’. Again, this is a much over-hyped description of what mainly comprises bland samey text that fills the ether wave. True thought leadership, like content marketing is intended to draw people to your business and should therefore stand out from the crowd. It should deliver a different and unapologetic message, a forward facing opinion, a commitment to a fresh idea, in other words be ORIGINAL? Much of what appears under the heading Thought Leadership on websites, social media and the press is nothing of the sort. Often it reiterates existing information or shared beliefs, its white papers are merely a facsimile of similar opinion, all of which is fine if you want to be one of the tribe or gather like-mindedness around you, or establish a political platform.
When I visit my social media platforms it can sometimes feel like I am panning for interesting articles and true thought leadership. It is frustrating when I search for a different take on something specific to be presented with a menu of websites and white papers saying more or less the same thing, which I often know already. There are of course occasional diamonds that glint amongst the ‘rubbish’ and they are a real pleasure to read and engage with.
There are intelligent thinkers who understand what thought leadership is and how it can help them create greater leverage for themselves or their business, and there are those who compose articles and white papers for the sake of SEO alone. Here’s wishing that the next change to Google’s search algorithm is for clever, thoughtful and groundbreaking editorial, and soon.