2014 is almost coming to an end and it is that time for all marketers to look out and observe what all the ‘gurus’ / ‘pandits’ / experts are saying about whats in store for next year. As a marketing professional who is responsible for Thought Leadership content – the topic of ‘content marketing’ is very close to my heart, and ‘core to my professional responsibilities’. So when I came across an interesting infographic on 2015 Content Marketing trends, I could not resist sharing on my blog. So here goes:
There are some buzzwords which will not go out of fashion in the business / corporate world. “THOUGHT LEADERSHIP” is one of them. When I first heard the word more than a decade ago at the start of my professional career, I was in “awe” as the word sounded important and impressive.
My first thoughts were “Don’t we all have a zillion thoughts zooming in our minds every single day, so what qualifies for thought leadership? How can anyone demonstrate leadership with their thoughts? Who decides that it is thought leadership? How does one demonstrate thought leadership?”
With time and experience, I found these answers. Today, “Thought Leadership” is an integral part of my professional responsibilities.
And here’s the thing|
1) It is still in vogue to be associated with this “T” word or / and have it in your professional resume
2) It is still important and impressive to an individual / organization
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘Thought Leadership’ was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz & Co magazine Strategy & Business, and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas which merited attention
“Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” By Michael Brenner
I think Thought Leadership is many times about asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS too. In fact many times the questions are more important than the answers – as they get one to think and provide the direction for your strategy and plans.
“Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.” By Daniel Rasmus
I fully concur with this definition. The only thing is that very many times “Thought leadership” is incidental or accidental, and consequently so are the relationships which is possibly and probably not a good space / place to be in for any business.
According to a Forbes article,
“A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
“A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.”
I agree with this view. The most challenging part is to become a Thought Leader, or the big HOW? I’m not so sure if Thought Leadership always results (directly) in increased profitability. It can – provided it is marketed / positioned well, and reaches the right audience / reader.
Wikipedia says that “Thought leadership is often used as a way of increasing or creating demand for a product or service. High tech firms will often publish white papers with analysis of economic benefits of the product as a form of marketing”
Agreed! It is really about putting your voices and views in the marketplace and promoting it on multiple online / offline channels that your prospects view.
Why is Thought Leadership important today?
Simply because it is a competitive marketplace and every individual / organization has several thoughts on a periodic basis. Establishing “continuous leadership” on your thoughts is a direct testimonial to the kind of team that you have and a clear ‘market message’ that nurturing and sharing these thoughts is important to you / your team and your organization. Thought Leadership can sometimes be your one and only “key differentiators” in the GTM (Go-To-Market) Strategy. Hence it is imprative for organizations to build, nurture and demonstrate “Thought Leadership”
How to demonstrate Thought Leadership?
With your content. With you communications. With your conversations (online / offline)
Who should drive Thought Leadership?
The beauty of Thought Leadership is that it
Integrates with a SME (Subject Matter Expert)
Integrates with content and social media functions
Integrated with marketing functions
Integrated with Leadership
And so it really is a collective collaborative constructive responsibility of an individual / team / organization to showcase / demonstrate Thought Leadership over a period of time.
And lastly who determines it to be “Thought Leadership”?
This is a tricky one since it depends on who is the addressable market for your offerings / solutions / services / products and who is the (potential) target customer. What may be “Thought Leadership” to one may not be “Thought Leadership” to another. The point is that there should be an “industry / community / group” of experts who “publicly” ratify a thought as “Thought Leadership”…
Agree / Disagree? Leave a comment to let me know
Ever since I started blogging and writing, I have experienced others generously stealing my published content (be it blogs / papers, etc.) and passing it off as their own, without as much as a reference, link or acknowledgement to the author or the published source.
At every single instance that has come to my attention, I have always left a comment / written to the concerned person; and in most instances they apologize and remove the content from their blog. The fact is that “Every single piece of writing that I have authored has a part of my mind, heart, soul, sweat and blood; and I am PROUD of it. And YES! I am EMOTIONALLY connected to my writings! So I really don’t appreciate anyone stealing my writings – especially since they are of value to me!“
But the most surprising and shocking discovery came a few days back when a senior business leader of global repute from a 100Bn$ enterprise published a blog post in his name which was picked up “verbatim” from one of my writings – Something which took me almost a year to conceptualize, write, edit and publish! Something which was truly novel and demonstrated “industry thought leadership”. My first reaction was of shock! I mean, “How could he do it?” – Someone of his stature, I am sure he knew the significance and implications of his act !
Fortunately for me, he had posted it on a community blog which was owned and moderated by an independent third party entity, so I wrote to the owner of the blog. I also left a comment to his post, to which the author promptly responded stating that he had authored it way back in 2010; & he also very EXPLICITLY mentioned his professional designation as an indication of his power and authority! I mean first you STEAL content, then you claim OWNERSHIP for something that is NOT YOURS, and lastly, LIE about it in PUBLIC! – All under the purview of the fact that because you are a senior and powerful business leader in a large multi-billion dollar enterprise, you can GET AWAY with it!
This was PLAGIARISM!
ACCORDING TO THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY, TO “PLAGIARIZE” MEANS
to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
to commit literary theft
to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.”
Moving on, fortunately for me – The blog owner did a detailed analysis, and was in agreement that the post was indeed copied from one of my original writings, and hence deleted the post. Thank God for that!
During this entire episode, I was also surprised to see the reactions of friends and colleagues. Most of them failed to understand “Why I was so upset about it?”. Some said “Forget it. Not worth your time!“.. Some said “Ignore it. He is too powerful, so let it be“. And some even laughed and said “You should feel happy that a senior business leader is passing off your writings as his own. It means that you’re writing good stuff!”. Honestly, I did not know what to say or how to react.
Also, I did some research on the issue, it appears that stealing content is a common challenge which plagues several blogs / bloggers. Most bloggers have accepted this reality of the blog-o-sphere; and have found ways to deal with it – Ignore it. OR Leave a comment. And a rare few actually get on to head-on legal battles. For most, it’s just NOT WORTH IT! They’d rather invest their time in creating new content. And rightly SO!
Ending with LESSONS LEARNED
(1) No, it’s NOT OK to Steal others CONTENT! If you must use it, acknowledge and give a reference to the original source / author. It hurts the author / writer, and if found it can be a serious “black mark” to your public brand image / character
(2) Value is personal and subjective. What is invaluable to you, may have no value to someone else. To Each his / her own ; and that’s OK
(3) Be GOOD on Social Media. As it is there is so much BAD and NEGATIVITY in the real world, Do you really want to carry that to Social Media as well? Here is a post on Social Media Etiquette 101 : The Basics that could help!
(4) And if you are in POWER, you can’t get away with EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME! At some point, one has to pay for his / her KARMA!
Recommended Readings / References
Just because it’s not illegal, does not mean it’s RIGHT
What to do when your online content is copied?
Know your digital rights – Blog Etiquette
How to file a DMCA take-down notice?
So, have you experienced anyone stealing your online content? How did you handle it? Do you have a view on the issue? Leave a comment to let me know!
Wearing the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog helps in generating valuable, interesting and diverse content.
What are the 6 Thinking Hats?
Dr. Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats is a simple, effective parallel thinking process that helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved. And once they’re learned, the tools can be applied immediately!
The premise of this concept is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be identified, deliberately accessed and hence used in a structured way to develop strategies for thinking about particular issues.
De Bono identifies six distinct states in which the brain can be “sensitized”. In each of these states, the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of issues being considered.
His 6 Thinking Hats are:
- the White Hat, which calls for information that’s known or needed: “The facts, just the facts.”
- the Yellow Hat, which symbolizes brightness and optimism; under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit
- the Black Hat, which is judgment—the devil’s advocate that spots the difficulties and dangers, and where things might go wrong; this is probably the most powerful and useful of the Hats but a problem if overused
- the Red Hat, which signifies feelings, hunches and intuition; when using this hat, you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates
- the Green Hat, which focuses on creativity, the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas; it’s an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions
- the Blue Hat, which is used to manage the thinking process; it’s the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats guidelines are observed.
How to wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog
Blogging is a testimonial of an individual’s thoughts, creativity, and literary expressions. And the quality of the content you create on your blogs is directly linked to the quality of your thoughts. Given that de Bono’s principles focus on mindful thinking, the Thinking Hats concept is highly relevant to blogging.
In my journey as a blogger for more than two years, I have published 1000+ blogs and have been featured in several forums, communities, and reputable sites. And when I look at the body of work that I have created, I realize today that I have consciously and unconsciously worn these many hats in my blogging.
The Six Thinking Hats can help you create diverse content on your blog, keep it vibrant, enjoy blogging, and create a meaningful relationship with your readers. Here’s how.
The White Hat
Ensure that some content in your blogs are based on hard data and facts. This can be information that you personally know, or links to articles, research, and literature available in published sources.
This is important because:
- You tend to read and learn about key data and facts before you can blog about them
- Sometimes the data itself can alter your and others views, comprehension, opinions, judgments, perceptions, and conclusions on a subject
- you have logged this data for your future reference, and also the reference of your readers
- you build credibility when you support your views and opinions with hard facts and data
- readers place more value on the content you generate, since your blog is not purely based on your thoughts and feelings
- the chance that you’ll be quoted or referenced in other places is significantly higher than if you never wore the White Hat.
The Yellow Hat
Ensure that some content in your blogs gives a positive, bright and optimistic view. This is important because:
- when you write positive stuff, you tend to think and feel positively
- when anyone reads your blog, they take-away a positive thought, message or emotion
- readers are more likely to share a positive post in their sphere of influence—the positivity just spreads and magnifies along the way! And it all started with your blog!
The Black Hat
Ensure that some content in your blogs highlights the difficulties, challenges, risks, dangers, and negatives of your topic. This is important because:
- this is the reality of life and it needs to be reflected in your blogs; otherwise, you may appear to be in your own dream world, far from reality
- having all positive, data-driven content does not give the real holistic picture for any topic, hence it is imperative to wear this hat.
The Red Hat
Ensure that some content in your blogs articulates your feelings, hunches, and intuitions. This is important because:
- it makes you think, introspect, and feel
- it also gets your readers to think, introspect, and feel
- it makes you connect within—to draw from your creative imagination
- it makes you acknowledge, recognize, and appreciate the power of your sixth sense.
The Green Hat
Ensure that some content in your blog is creative, innovative, novel, and radical. This could present your own views or thoughts or something you’ve read and would like to share with your readers. It’s important because:
- when you read and hear such things, they transport you to a different plane—a different world in which you are able to view the world through a very different lens; this usually gives you a radically different perspective on any topic, and on life itself
- when you immerse yourself in creative, innovative, novel and radical readings, thoughts and ideas, you tend to dream and visualize beyond the realm of the known.
The Blue Hat
Ensure that some content in your blogs is about processes. This is important because:
- it makes you clear in your own mind about processes that should be followed
- it gives you an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and understanding on subjects which you are aware of and strengthens your own personal brand.
Do you wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog?
You can wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog for many purposes:
- to choose a topic that you will blog about
- to write the title of your post
- to create the actual blog content itself
You can wear one or many hats in a single blog post. But ensure that over a period of time—a month, for example—you wear at least four of the hats in your blog. We all wear the different thinking hats at some point, so the more you wear, the more likely you’ll be to meet the varying needs of your readers.
Do you wear all six thinking hats in your blog? Tell us in the comments.
With the proliferation of social media, there’s a lot of focus on content.. And as a result, there have evolved and emerged many different roles associated with content.. While some of these are typically performed by individuals, some can be performed by tools and some by a combination of individuals and tools. In the long term, it will be interesting to see how these many different roles will morph into potential business opportunities for both individuals and enterprises…
In this blog, I have attempted to list and identify the various roles in the content life cycle.. While many of these terminologies are more relevant for the context of social media, they can be easily mapped to offline content as well…
It is important to note that while many of these roles are usually clubbed and performed by a single individual, I am also increasingly observing cases where there are different individuals tasked with very specific roles. Of course, each of the roles requires different skills and have different criteria for measurement of success….
Content Ideator – Those who generate ideas on what topics content should be about
Content Creator – Those who create the content from their own ideas / content ideators
Content Editor – Those who edit the content – Focus is usually on quality of content, accuracy, validity, basic English & Grammar checks and of course, presentation
Content Approver – Those who approve the content before it is published
Content Curator – Those who organize, review and add insights to content prior to publication
Content Publisher – Those who publish the content through one / many channels and on one / many forums
Content Consumer – Those who read the content – and hopefully benefit from it in one or many ways
Content Aggregator – Those who collate and aggregate content on a specific subject and with a specific objective
Content Analyzer – Those who analyze the content to identify trends and patterns
Content Critics – Those who review and critique on content in one / many forums
Content Advisor – Those who advise on what sort of content should be created and published in various forums
Pause and Reflect…
What role(s) do you play currently?
What role(s) do you want to play??
What additional role(s) can be defined???
The content life cycle typically consists of the following stages
 Content Creation,
 Content Review
 Content Approval
 Content Publishing
 Content Distribution
 Content Consumption
 Content Modification
 Content Archival
 Content Retirement
Typically, each of these stages has different owners, different activities, different costs, different entry and exit points, different tools, different revenue models, different actors, different end-users, etc.
On Twitter, the content life cycle is significantly different in comparison…..
1) A single tweet by a user is a combination of Content Creation, self-review of the Content, self-Approval of the Content and self-publishing of the content
2) Content Distribution is done on Twitter itself when a tweet is published
3) By virtue of the followers / Re-tweets on Twitter, Content Consumption is also done on Twitter itself
4) Content Modification is possible by the Content Creator / Content Consumer by adding / enhancing and editing the original content as a new tweet
5) Content Archival and Retirement is again the responsibility of the Content Creator. In the long run, this can be a challenging ordeal if one has not thought about the primary objective of Twitter usage and structured their tweets accordingly..
• Twitter is the medium that is used for all these stages of the content life cycle & hence completely transformed the content life cycle
• In the long run, individuals / enterprises which are able to define monetization strategies around this new content life cycle will have a competitive edge
“Content is King” was originally written by Bill Gates in a 1996 article. That was 15 years back… Since then, a lot has changed and evolved in the online world. With the evolution and rapid adoption of social media platforms [Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.], there is an opportunity for everyone to be content creators and continue to be content consumers. The volume of content being generated every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year is mind boggling. And hence, the real challenge for the content consumer is how to rapidly reach the right content as relevant in his / her context..
It’s hard to say whether social media platforms have played a significant role in providing a medium for content creation [online, real-time, easy & mostly free] OR if they have provided a channel to reach potential content consumers [again online, instant & mostly free]. Nevertheless, social media platforms have impacted both these dimensions.
Hence there will always be a debate around who drives the other – Content Creators or Content Consumers?Arguably, content creation means focused efforts and a dash of creativity! And hence content creators rule. On the other hand, content consumption depends on availability and access to content, time and interest. And hence, content consumers empower creators to rule.
The social media paradigm has definitely proved one thing – A lot of us want to express and in the process create content and the social media platforms are thus enablers for both content creators and content consumers.
On that note, here is a question for you – When was the last time you tweeted/blogged/updated your status or simply expressed in this new social world with a like? If not here is your chance!
Originally published @ http://www.paulwriter.com/blogs/item/415-social-media-content