Thought Leadership

You, know, I’ve gotten far away from blogging about blogging. It’s an overdone topic that had its day in the sun, but we’ve moved on to, thankfully, other topics. However, the depth of content still discourages me. Yes, there are literally millions of blogs out there and the number of really quality blogs have increased dramatically. However, the signal to noise ratio is still very bad, in my opinion.

What am I referring to?

In political blogging, people are still quoting and linking to Daily Kos and Captain’s Quarters as sources of inspiration for posts.

In gadget blogging, people still read from the same page as Engadget or Gizmodo.

In business blogging, Seth Godin and Lawrence Lessig.

For SEO and marketing, Shoemoney and SEOMoz still rule the roost.

As they should. All of these blogs have been and continue to produce excellent original content, and most importantly, thought leadership. In whatever area they write, they are producing content that attracts readers to innovative ideas and concepts and helps those readers explore related concepts and thoughts. In the case of Engadget and Gizmodo, they are news breakers, but

The difference between the long tail and the head of tail sites like those mentioned above, and in my opinion, the wave of the future is in thought leadership. More and more bloggers thinking for themselves, maybe taking some inspiration from some of these blogs, but proactively creating original content.

I mentioned that I was interviewed the other day by Minic Rivera. In that interview, I talked about how at any given time, I’ve got numerous ideas running around in my head. In some cases, these ideas sit up there for months – as the Twitter Terminal Velocity post did. Other posts come out of conversations I have that coalesce into fully baked thoughts overnight. In all these cases, I spend time thinking through topics before writing and when the writing actually does occur, it is more like a braindump.

We need more thought leaders in blogging. People who will take the time to think fully about ideas and develop those thoughts. People that share these thoughts after much consideration and analysis.

That’s what my idea of an ideal blog world is. Am I smoking crack?

11 Replies to “Thought Leadership”

  1. I agree, and I’ve been trying to be more of a thought leader by doing videos lately that are original thoughts. There’s enough “me too” content out there.

    I want to make the news, not report on it. Good post.

  2. Nope, no crack detected. It would be nice if more blogs actually had even just some original thought, however, it takes time, and more importantly – effort.

    Blogs which have a large percentage of original content (of quality) aren’t typically daily posters though. Even your top ‘thought leaders’ are recycling quite a bit of content vs. original content, they do have at least a balanced ratio.

    I look at the feeds in my feed reader and I typically have more blogs that have higher percentages of original content. Sure, I have some that recycle from other sites quite a bit, however, I recognize what they are.

    I guess it’s a matter of what you’re in it for…

  3. Everyone has the ability to be a ‘thougtht leader’. The challenge is having enough confidence in what you say to blaze your own path and sing your own song.

    Some people choose this way….others just follow the thundering herd.

    Data points,


  4. The difficulty with being a thought leader, is that you need to provide your audience with sufficient evidence to support your point. Everyone has and is entitled to share their ideas with the world through their blogs, but the difficulty is explaining why your idea has merit in a manner that your audience understands.
    If a thought leader does not provide sufficient explanation, then their ideas will largely be ignored by the blogging community. Or the thought leader may be ostracized by the blogging community for being creepy, weird, or fake.

  5. Conceptually, I completely agree with you. In practice, I think it also can be broken down into two more categories. You can be a thought leader in your niche topically OR you can be a thought leader by providing content of similarly (to existing) high quality content but in a manner that is new/better/etc. Here, I’m talking about taking the norm of a niche, in our case style & fashion, and trying to differentiate by breaking a few conventions. Our niche is littered with celebrity crap, 80% ad ridden blogs, inconsistent post topics..the list goes on. it seems no one is really trying to serve a target that was researched and planned beforehand. Maybe that’s the thought leadership you speak of. Much that surrounds the quality issues of popular blogs today stems from the success of techniques that don’t incentivize high quality content generation.

  6. When I see the phrase “Thought Leader,” I cannot help but think of <a href=”″Merlin Mann’s presentation at the SXSW-Worst Website Ever panel.

  7. yes, you’re definitely on crack ;) the blogosphere signal to noise ratio will probly continue to decrease because of all the crap thats out there, and all the crap-writers and producers, and lets not forget about the gurus/teachers of crap-writing. oh and then there are the automated scripts which duplicate and re-publish content.

    but no, i definitely see where you’re going with this, and i think that as blogging evolves, more and more quality blogs will surface. as for myself, i have a goal of blogging every day, so that doesn’t always leave room for highly inspired posts…but i try ;)

  8. I agree that there is a high noise to signal ratio in blogging, but I think the noise comes in different grades. Not everyone can be an original thinker. There’s a role for blogs that just echo the big ideas or function as pointers to other information. Another channel to push thought along.

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