Thought leadership, one of the most overused marketing jargon that’s gingerly carved itself into the universal corporate lexicon, will continue to unassumingly find a snug spot among the annual playbooks of many communications and marketing professionals.
However, examining the etymological construct and semantic implications of this term would be akin to writing about what it is or what it’s not (ahem). So I’ll spare your eyes from itching and tearing.
Instead, I’d like to quickly segue into a short list of considerations.
Why should folks in our profession need to stop acting like content sycophants, especially when sculpting our respective digital footprint?
Novelty is not just about originality but also, and perhaps more importantly, purpose
If your sole aim is to augment your prospect and client database for the sake of bullhorning your way into a lead, you might wanna rethink your approach.
If a client is asking for help with lead generation, would you quickly pull out a formulaic, one-size-fits-all strategy that looks original but covers a finite stand-alone goal OR would you work harder at researching your way into an intricately story-boarded saga of intrigue, designed to branch out and morph under the weight of its own appealing complexities and idiosyncracies?
Content can be crafted to shine and sparkle on command. But if there is no long-term vision or purpose behind its existence, then all the sweat-induced thoughts poured into its mould will last only for that one instance.
Novelty is an elaborate Venetian mask that will always end up being shelved after the ball. So the face behind that mask had better be able to launch at least a thousand ships.
When you’re using a blatant marketing voice, it’s not just boring; it’s annoying
We see this all the time. And the most obvious and common examples are evident on Twitter, day in and out.
“Check out my latest, 210th variation on disruptive engagement” or “Watch how I mindlessly favourite a series of tweets ’cause anything by @EveybodyLovesThisGuru has GOT to be great” ..
I try to diligently regulate the frequency of my own social sharing. But each time I do take a moment to check in on the larger social stream, I am invariably assailed by the same users tweeting, retweeting and commenting on the same tunnel-visioned theme, with the same tone of voice, and the very same, predictable manner of expression. Granted, they do this since they have no choice: it is their purported area of expertise after all.
I’M THINKING.. you need to get out more. Out of your rut, that is.
Share something totally different, but echoes elements of your core expertise. Make someone smile or laugh, make them believe just how real, how fun and approachable you truly are.
How you create content is even more critical than what content you create
We are so obsessed with producing original content that we easily lose sight of the overall process of creating.
By definition, the act of creating IS in fact the actual gold we are mining. The multiple—often intricately detailed—phases involved in giving form and breathing life into an idea offers rich opportunities for gaining new perspectives and never-before-seen ways to arrive at the next step, the next iteration or variation.
You know I don’t have to spell this out, but you really must ask yourself from time to time: “How attentive am I at filtering the indiscernible nuggets that crystallize what makes my content meaningful, substantive and compelling?”
This post was inspired, ironically, by a long hiatus from Twitter. When I did spend a few moments reviewing my feed today, I noticed how predictable my Twitter stream looked and felt. Yes, felt.
As a creative person, my visceral reactions often urge me to articulate thoughts based on raw observations.
How about you? What inspires you to formulate thoughts enough to want to share them? And in so doing, do you feel like you’re inspiring (dare I say ‘leading’) others to do the same?
6 thoughts on “Thoughts to sculpt a lasting footprint”
Lots of interesting thoughts, Autom, thanks for sharing. I’ll share responses as they come to me.
First, whenever you find a part of yourself shying away from discussing the “etymological construct and semantic implications” of anything, fight that impulse and dive in! We may be a small community that enjoys those sorts of things, but darn it, we’re passionate. As I can’t definitively say that I know anyone else who would love that discussion, the audience or community may be quite small, but….
Your thoughts on Twitter are interesting, and definitely reflect my own. To be frank, I’ve never gotten it. I can understand its purpose or appeal for an organisation to communicate to its clients/audience/whatever, but that’s never really been my role within any of the agencies with which I’ve worked, and as a personal thing it has always just felt boring and egotistical to me. One could certainly make similar statements about most if not all forms of social media, and to a certain extent I might agree, but for some reason Twitter has always felt further along that scale than some others.
The staleness of it, though, that certainly resonates with me. That’s something that I am somewhat beginning to find or struggle with on Super, actually. I rarely go on to the “everyone” feed, because the vast majority of posts that I find on there are of absolutely no interest to me, and are repetitive. I’ve been restricting the number of people that I’m following as well, and being quite picky about new people that I may follow. I think the medium, with its bright colours and some creative members help fight off impressions of stagnation, but they’re kind of creeping in. This, though, feels like a separate discussion, and I think I’ve strayed pretty far away from where I started, so let’s get back to your post.
I love your thoughts on purpose and creativity. Particularly as it pertains to individualising approaches to problems, to clients, to things within your work and field. I know that in certain circumstances recycling old approaches or materials, etc. makes sense. I get that. And some times broad creations can fit individual issues. But I think that’s oftentimes not the case, and in the interest of economy or ease or just from plain laziness, people are really quick to say, “well, I did something that is tangentially related to this once, sooo…let’s just use those materials and call it good.” And I think this approach is really problematic. Especially when it’s done on behalf of or for clients who have come to you/your organisation for help with something. I think that it belies a lack of respect for that person or issue, which is frustrating.
As for the questions with which you end your article, to be honest, I don’t find myself moved to share very often. I think I’ve posted a status on Facebook or shared something on there half a dozen times in the past year? Geez. I just went back to look at that, and it’s true.
Now, that’s not to say that that is the summation of my activity on Facebook in the last year, but I post things on *specific people’s pages.* And to me that’s something really different. I appreciate and like conversations, intimacy, mutual sharing. Posting things for everyone to see or just in general feels like using a bullhorn to me, and makes me quite uncomfortable, actually. None of that, or any of this post really, is meant to be a comment in any way on another person, just describing my personal relationship with all of this.
To quickly go back to Super (sorry), one of the challenges I find with it is that it’s not suited very well, or perhaps it’s just that the culture doesn’t exist/hasn’t been instilled for conversation. Sure, people love posts, but not many people respond. And not many respond in a way that invites further input or discussion or thoughts. One of the things that I really appreciate about your presence, actually, is that you do that. And not just with me, but with a lot of folks. You respond, you invite or open space for some sort of meaningful dialogue beyond just the tacit endorsement of a love.
But back to actually answering your final questions, most of the time I feel compelled to share are things that are silly. There’s nothing that I love more than sitting with someone or a couple people and having a deep, meaningful talk about anything. But that sort of sharing feels weird to me through mediums of communication where I can’t see the other person, hear the timbre of their voice, the gestures they make with their hands. The disconnect through something like Twitter, Facebook, Super, or even talking on the phone is not something that I enjoy. The anonymity and distance that the internet provides are not things that I enjoy, nor do I think that they are very conducive to meaningful dialogue.
So what I’m left with, or that I want to or do share are things that are silly. That make me giggle, that I think may make someone else laugh. Or things (like the “song of the day” that I’m starting) that I enjoy, that don’t need a response, but maybe someone else will appreciate and perhaps open them up to something that they hadn’t experienced/seen/heard before.
Wow, this is getting long and my level of focus has been pretty low all day, so I think I’ll stop here, but…well, here you go.
OMFG! (à la Super, yet again) thank you so much Patrick for taking some time to share your thoughts and reactions to this post.
I want to offer an exhaustive response to your comment (the longest and one of the most well articulated to date) and promise to do so during a time when I am focused and deliberate.
It is a privilege to connect with you. Watch for Part 2 of this reply 🙂 Cheers A
Take your time :). Looking forward to your thoughts and continuing to chat. Thank you again for sending this my way!
Patrick – I’d like to flesh out some key points you’ve touched on above in an effort to both affirm and elaborate on the overarching themes of communication and shared experiences:
A) “..whenever you find a part of yourself shying away from discussing the “etymological construct and semantic implications” of anything, fight that impulse and dive in! We may be a small community that enjoys those sorts of things, but darn it, we’re passionate.” — we certainly are. and while there may only be a handful of us outside of the global collective of people pursuing post secondary studies in philosophy and psychology, it is precisely due to the very esoteric nature of this community that we find ourselves impassioned by the limitless possibilities of thought and its sometimes unfathomable, intricate machinations .. like, who talks like this?? nobody! why? because a) they’re not schooled that way and b) sadly, they didn’t and don’t care to
B) “As for the questions with which you end your article, to be honest, I don’t find myself moved to share very often….Posting things for everyone to see or just in general feels like using a bullhorn to me, and makes me quite uncomfortable, actually.” — you might be surprised to find that there may well be a greater likelihood of most people preferring not to share often. in fact, i believe that is the norm. i know for instance that some of my closest and dearest friends are either rarely on social media or not at all part of it. although there is one phenomenon, which applies inherently to all of us: to a certain degree (mild or intense, depending on one’s history and predisposition) we all suffer from one form of existential narcissism. in the very least, it comes as form of acting upon curiosity and in the most exaggerate form, it can look like every teen’s (and some unbridled adults clamouring for lost memories of youth) oversharing diatribe, emotionally erratic states driven largely by predictable egocentricity and hormones (which is perfectly expected of their age)
C) “There’s nothing that I love more than sitting with someone or a couple people and having a deep, meaningful talk about anything. But that sort of sharing feels weird to me through mediums of communication where I can’t see the other person, hear the timbre of their voice, the gestures they make with their hands” — i wholeheartedly agree with you on this point. there’s nothing more stimulating than a very involved discourse where you can physically witness the tangible cues of engagement. however, given point A) above, we don’t always have the luxury of such rich company. therefore, i think the virtual landscape offers a viable alternative. the engagement may be incremental and often times hit-n-miss, but at least there is always the chance of connecting
et voilà .. a proper response to yours – cheers a
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