Jan Gordon
November 1, 2015

Time to Stop Recycling Thought Leadership

By Michael Brito

It’s taken me 4 months to write this post and I am still not sure exactly what I want to say, if it’ll make any sense or if anyone will read it.

I’ll give it a shot anyway.

I have been blogging since 2006 and I am definitely guilty of recycling thought leadership. It wasn’t uncommon for me to reflect back on old content, add some new thinking and then write the next version of “insert buzzword here.”

I have done the same with industry content too. I think we all have.  We read a blog post, form an opinion, critique the crap out of it and follow up with a blog post of our own on how “it should be.”

I am guilty of this for sure and have picked some “online” fights early in my career. It’s so much easier to shred apart existing models and theories instead of coming up with something original, right?

But what I see online today is so far from thought leadership. I shouldn’t let it annoy me but I do.

We all know that “brands need to join the conversation.” We all know that “content marketing is important for B2B brands.” We all know that “social media is changing the way companies communicate.” We all know that “converged media is the new model to reach specific audiences.”

Tell us something we don’t know.

A very quick Google search will return mass amounts of content in each of these topic areas along with the “click bait” triggers (10 ways to do this, 5 tips to do that) in order to get us to subscribe to an RSS feed.

I’m sorry but there is no value in this type of content. None.

Companies of all sizes and industries need more than theory. They need to understand the mechanics, dependencies and resources needed to implement programs that can scale. Tips, secrets and opinions can only last for so long.

Sadly though, the influencer landscape is diluted with pundits who have never really “done” what they tell others “to do.” Yes, they have large followings, know how to live stream with the latest tools and they certainly know how to do content marketing targeted towards other content marketers.

But this isn’t thought leadership. This isn’t helping the industry move forward and innovate in an extremely complex digital ecosystem.

I totally get it though. There is a fundamental desire in all of us to be influential and have a large following.  It feels good to be invited to speak at conferences all over the world and have our own Facebook page.

For some, it’s an obsession.

Whether we admit it or not, we all have an ego and social media is that mechanism to share and share and share and share; almost to the point where we share the same piece of content multiple times because we’re disappointed with how many retweets we received. Sad, but true.

I have unfollowed hundreds of friends, industry colleagues and very smart people over the last 12 months because I see the same EXACT thing EVERY single day in EVERY single social network. It’s tiresome.

Yeah, I still love em’ all to death. I’m just overwhelmed with the constant oversharing of thoughts and ideas that just don’t add any kind of value.  Of course, I am am happy that you were added to another influencer list but don’t tell me more than once or try and act humble when sharing it.

So I will conclude with a solution because that’s the right thing to do; and something I expect from my team when they come to me with an issue.

I will to do my best to write content and provide thought leadership that’s actionable.  A theory, model or hypothesis is acceptable but i’ll back it up with an action plan that has depth (and depth does not equal ‘create relevant content’ or ‘your business needs to use Persicope’ type of language).

And even then it won’t always be ground breaking or considered “thought leadership” but it will still add value. You have my word.

Agree, disagree? Bring it on in the comments or lets discuss on Twitter.


Michael BritoThis piece was originally titled “It’s Time to Stop Recycling Thought Leadership” and published on LinkedIn . It is republished here with permission.

Michael Brito is a Group Director at WCG and also an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University and UC Berkeley. He is the author of two books: Smart Business, Social Business and Your Brand: The Next Media Company. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+.


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