23 Dec 2011
I asked 12 people who I consider to be leading global commentators on thought leadership as well as a couple who have produced some amazing thought leadership programs in-house over the years to comment on four critical thought leadership questions for 2012.
Inspired by their answers I couldn’t help chipping in with my own thoughts.
As a result of the overwhelmingly positive response, I have split the interviews into four different posts – one post per question.
In the New Year I will make available an e book containing all the answers.
Interviewees include: Bob Buday, Erica Klein, David Meerman Scott, Jeff Ernst, Rob Leavitt, Britton Manasco, Dana van den Heuvel, Matt Church, Fiona Czerniawska, Dale Bryce, Elizabeth Sosnow, Marte Semb Aaasmundsen and me.
This is the last post in the series and it covers their answers to question four:
Question four: Can content curation alone turn an individual or company
into a thought leader?
“No – especially if all you do is collect articles. There are tons of automated ways to do it without a human intermediary – Twitter feeds, Google alerts, etc.
“At the very least, content curators need to provide more value to readers than simply identifying and collecting content on a topic. They need to explain why some piece of content is worth someone’s time – what new light it sheds.
“Yet still, even if you add that kind of value – providing commentary on interesting content – playing the role of content curator doesn’t go far enough to demonstrate that you are a leading expert on a topic.
“All to say there are no short cuts in becoming a thought leader.”
“This may be totally self-serving on my part, but I think aggregating content marks a company as a “me too” provider and not a distinctive brand able to offer prospects and customers real, quantifiable value.
“True thought leadership can do so much more for a company than round up content at the OK Corral!”
Matt Church, founder of the Global Thought Leaders Movement and creator of the Million Dollar Expert Program. He is the author of 5 books including Thought Leaders and his latest Sell Your Thoughts (http://www.mattchurch.com)
“In the next 36 months maybe. But after that those who synthesise, aggregate and curate Thought Leadership will lose position. It’s about extending the conversations or contradicting them. This means you have to go beyond ‘here is a good idea’ and start to say ‘here is what I think about X idea’.
“It’s about contribution and contradiction as ways of extending an idea. A reader reads a book and goes ‘cool’, a curator reads an idea and goes ‘how can I share that?’ a Thought Leader reads an idea and goes ‘What do I think about that?’
“I love this question – it’s one I’ve debated myself. I think the short answer is “yes,” but the long answer is “no.”
“In the short term, curation is a way to signal to your audience that you understand industry trends and “what’s ahead.” However, longer term, curation signals a “me, too” marketing posture.
“True thought leadership requires differentiation to succeed, so curation just isn’t enough.”
Jeff Ernst, is the Principal Analyst, serving CMO and Marketing Leadership Professionals at Forrester Research and is probably best described as a thought leader in B2B marketing and sales strategy(http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/jeff_ernst)
“No, content curation alone is not enough to be a true thought leader.
“For people to trust you to curate or filter content for them, they need to already view you as an authority and trust that you are able to filter through the noise to deliver the content that is most useful to them.
“At minimum, as you curate content, you need to be providing your perspectives on the content you are delivering. But ideally, you need a steady stream of your own fresh ideas and perspectives, while using content curation to supplement that.”
David Meerman Scott is one of the pre-eminent thought leaders on PR and marketing. He is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and author of the #1 bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR (which has been published in 26 languages) and the Wall Street Journal bestseller Real-Time Marketing & PR. He recently launched his new online book: “Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage”. (http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/)
“No. While content that is interesting will be passed on, I am a perfect example as I tweet interesting content, however, some
component of original content is important.
“Content simply created by others is not nearly as valuable.”
Dale Bryce is the group manager marketing for Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), a global strategic consulting, engineering and project delivery firm. He has been instrumental in their successful ‘client first’ thought leadership approach (http://www.skmconsulting.com/Home/)
“Content curation is an essential ingredient in the overall mix that is thought leadership.
“Great content needs to be relevant of course but it should act as a social lubricant for engagement with an audience. Ideally content is just the conversation starter; a catalyst to a real dialogue about how people might react and respond to the idea just placed on the metaphorical table. And from that first conversation, big things can come….!”
Marte Semb Aasmundsen, graduated this month with her MSc Strategic Public Relations and Communications
Management at The University of Stirling in the UK. Her thesis was on thought leadership.
“No, I don’t think so.
“I think content curation may perhaps be a reason why critics are inveighing against thought leadership in the first place.
“Of course it is a useful way of identifying and re-branding an issue. But I think the trend will be to move towards more sophisticated thought leadership initiatives. For that to happen, a thought leader must be authentic.
“Authenticity, transparency and trust are values that will become even more important in the coming years.”
Britton Manasco is the founder of Manasco Marketing Partners which specializes in creating thought leadership marketing and sales enablement solutions. Britton produces a thought leadership strategy blog Illuminating the Future and the executive journal, Elevation Quarterly. (http://www.brittonmanasco.com/)
“Yes, but only if they are a skilled curator.
“Among other things, I have billed myself as a “connoisseur of contrarians.” I seek out unexpected perspectives and provocative points of view. By tapping into their contrarian insights of others, I’m able to generate content for my clients that truly resonates with their customers.
“I’m thrilled that I can get paid to do it.”
Rob Leavitt is a B2B marketing strategist, specializing in issues-based marketing. He is currently Director of Thought Leadership at PTC, a $1 billion enterprise software firm. (http://www.reputationtorevenue.com/)
“Curation is useful both internally (for education and customer/competitive/market perspective) and externally (to build interest, traffic, and credibility) but it is no substitute for your own content and conversation that provide strong and different points of view.
“I’m all for curation initiatives but strictly as a complement to your own more substantial research, publications, and presentations. Done well (which itself requires a great deal of work), curation can help you become a useful and valued resource for information and ideas, but if they are not your own ideas you are still not a thought leader.”
Dana VanDen Heuvel is a marketing consultant, author and speaker. He is a recognized expert on blogging, podcasting, RSS, Internet communities and interactive marketing trends and best practices as well as thought leadership (http://www.marketingsavant.com/)
“No, it can’t.
“I’ve seen a lot of back and forth on Twitter this year about this, but at the end of the day, curation is helpful and even essential.
“I often tell my clients that the best leaders don’t always have the answers, but they know where to get them, which is how the thought leader should approach curation. Know where to get good content, know who to trust and know what your audience values but never think for a second that curation = thought leadership.
“The Bloom Group has articulated, what I believe, to be one of the staples in thought leadership discipline with their “seven fundamentals of a thought leadership point of view”, which every would-be thought leader should use to check their work. Moreover, “novelty”, that is, saying something new about an issue and “validity”, having proof, are two of the most critical points of a thought leadership position.
“Curation satisfies neither of those.”
“Find me one recognised thought leader who has attained their position as a result of curating content only.
“If you can I will be convinced that content curation can create thought leaders.
“The very nature of the term ’thought leadership’ implies original, creative or innovative thought. In contrast, curating content implies that you are not the original generator of that content and therefore cannot claim to be a thought leader off the back of it.
“That said, I believe that curated content can play a very important role in supporting and informing a thought leadership content program. Furthermore, if the person curating the content arrives at new ideas or insights as a result of that content then it could be construed as thought leadership.”
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