Thursday, May 27, 2010

Embracing the Risk in Thought Leadership

It is easy to be a thought leader in the cozy confines of the corporate conference room.

With beer muscle bravado, executives often opine in private about issues, trends, competitors and…yes…even customers with views that would surely turn heads. Yet, when it comes time to incorporate these opinions in a social media program the end product is edited, scrubbed and washed out.

Everyone feels comfortable with the post, yet discouraged by the lack of readership and audience engagement.

How come there are no comments on our blog? Why is readership stagnant?

It’s quite simple. To be a thought leader and command market attention you actually need to have thoughts. And it’s okay if others present a conflicting view. In fact, it should be encouraged.

For instance, the most widely read posts on this blog all have something in common: a majority of the comments are from passionate dissenters. Consider my post about a wayward presentation or collegiate failings when it comes to social media education.

This brings me to a Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) client who truly embraces the commitment (and thick skin) required for thought leadership. Check out this post by British Telecom’s (BT) Toby Weir-Jones:

Wither VeriSign? Further Consolidation in the Security Marketplace

As a senior VP in BT’s Managed Security Services business line, Toby is certainly in a qualified position to articulate his views on the responsibility that market leading organizations have to innovate. Doing so creates possible risk as some might take offense to the forceful presentation of his convictions.

Leaders take risks though. It’s true in social media…and in life.

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