Hilary Parker

Keywords: Thought leadership

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Way before Google’s Panda update, the Internet citizenry had become disgusted with keyword-heavy crap floating like dolphin-killing plastic six-pack soda rings in our ocean. Panda means your Google search results are cleaner (whoopee!) but it does nothing to help the fact that Craigslist’s gig postings are full of people hiring writers to crank out more keyword-heavy crap. Only this time, most of them are for blogs.

What ever happened to the Internet being a source of good? Of light? Of, at the very least, information that wasn’t deliberately constructed to make its reader act in a certain way?

I mean, any monkey with a keyboard (especially my favorite wicked cool one) can write a blog. What our ocean needs now is insight and information sharing. That’s why I’m so glad to see more and more companies and organizations embracing the concept of thought leadership online.

Thought leadership isn’t new; the term, coined in 1994 by Booz, Allen & Hamilton’s Joel Kurtzman, referred to those business leaders who were a few steps ahead of everyone else. Today, in relation to the Internet, the term is a kind of brass ring that groups hope to seize. It’s a way of graduating at the top of your class… of attaining keynote speaker status. Thought leadership means your company gets more business, your nonprofit gets more campaign contributions, your Twitter account gets more retweets.

It’s the Internet’s way of saying, “These people don’t eff around. They know their stuff, they’re here to share their ideas and they’re open to interaction.” And those last two points are crucial: The days when our online presence was nothing more than a highly-controlled, one-way conversation are over. If you’re a company, you’ve got to embrace the fact that your customers own your brand just as much as you do (and probably more so). If you’re an association, you’ve got to let someone other than the president or the VP of public relations “speak” with your members online. And if you think being stingy with information is going to get you the brass ring, think again. You’ve got to go out and be generous with what you know. Sure, some information is proprietary, and some of it is members-only, but if your site is nothing more than an electronic brochure, no one will visit it more than once.

So recycle your plastic six-pack soda rings, grab your best ideas and put them out there. Only those bold enough to share what they know will be considered the category leaders in this next phase of Internet development.

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