The following is guest post from Craig Badings of Cannings Corporate Communications. It originally appeared at www.thoughtleadershipstrategy.net/
There is a lot of a commentary flying around the web at the moment about content, optimising that content for search engines , content curation (filtering and aggregating relevant content) and how best to deliver content to your publics.
But…and this is a big but – content alone does not make you a thought leader. It may help a company’s publics, it may make their lives easier, it may drive traffic to a site and it may position that brand as a trusted source of particular information. But does it make that company a thought leader?
No it does not.
Let’s have a quick look at my definition of thought leadership: Thought Leadership is establishing a relationship with and delivering something of value to your stakeholders and customers that aligns with your brand/company value. In the process you go well beyond merely selling a product or service and establish your brand /company as the expert in that field and differentiate yourself from your competitors
Key to thought leadership is innovative content
The key to being a thought leader is offering something of value, insights that position you as the expert in that field. By that I mean stuff which frames the debate and conversations on a particular issue or issues. Content that challenges the paradigms and the thinking of your own staff as well as your publics if not an entire industry sector, and content that delivers deep insights around a particular issue or sector.
Content that doesn’t do this cannot and should not be labelled as thought leadership. It is merely information.
This is not to say that it’s not useful but it doesn’t make you a thought leader.
HiveFire has produced a thought provoking e book on content curation. You can download it here : http://info.hivefire.com/eBook.html and I suggest you do. It is a good read and raises some very interesting questions about how you manage your content.
But as they say, competitors are drowning in a sea of information overload and they are challenged to decipher what information is relevant and which sources are trustworthy. My view is that it is particularly because of this that to be a thought leader, the content you deliver needs to differentiate you from the crowd, must be different and challenge insights and should position you as the pre-eminent company/commentator in that space.
The spin-offs of doing this right are huge as many marketers, particularly in the professional services arena will attest. True thought leadership is one of the most valuable marketing assets in which a company can invest. It inspires trust in your brand and in process imbues in your company and your people a perception by the marketplace that you are the ‘go to’ authorities and knowledge experts on that topic – a perception that no amount of advertising can buy. OK maybe a bucket load could buy it but it would cost a bomb .
Publishing alone will not help
Publishing on its own is not going to help. It’s what you publish and how you take it to market that makes the difference.
Before you become an aggregator or curator of content ask yourself the following questions: What is our thought leadership position? What do we stand for in the market place? What is our differentiator in terms of leading the market?
Only once you have established a position in this regard are seen as the go to place for insights in your area of specialty is it useful to become a content curator and specifically for content that relates to and helps inform that position.
Until then I’m afraid, you will just be a follower.