Thought Leadership

April 3, 2024 - Rob Erickson


There is a moment during the first Incredibles movie where the villain Syndrome explains his evil plan. He wants to make EVERYONE a super (hero/villain) so that NO ONE is a super anymore. 

At first blush maybe Syndrome’s plan doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. The democratization of anything is great, right? 

Well, I’m seeing a trend on social media lately that mimics this. 

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know how noisy social media has become with a wave of Tastemakers and Thought Leaders voicing their hot takes on marketing, sales, self-discovery…politics, etc... This doesn’t bode well for the future of being able to sift through the cacophony to find voices you truly want to hear or discover, fresh, new voices that have merit.

I think this is a problem of authenticity. Does your thought leadership come from a place of experience or is it simply an opinion meant to work the algorithm? 

For example - LinkedIn is now explicitly soliciting people to lend their expertise to question prompts. This serves the surface-level want of people to have easy access to sage advice, however, if you are a top contributor, you can unlock an exclusive “Top Voice” badge to add to your profile. I should say, I believe there is value in sharing ones hard-earned, experience-based learnings; I must ask though, are people really looking to add value or are we all caught up in a keeping up with the Joneses moment as we curate our digital lives?

In the marketing and video space, I think people like Gary Vee, Marques Brownlee & Casey Neistat get it. Each of them has been doing their thing for a long time and all of them are leading with value first. They give the audience something intrinsically valuable: knowledge, insights, and unique perspectives based on their experience, etc. A side effect is that they’ve become thought leaders in the process. They didn’t necessarily set out to do that, it happened organically because of the value they provide.

So, I think that’s the place we all really need to start when looking at what we’re contributing to the pile of posts. Are we adding value, or adding volume? Are we being an authentic Thought Leader, or dare I coin the term, a Thought Loser?

Candidly, in writing this, I’m taking a hard look in the mirror and asking myself and my team if our efforts across social platforms are part of the problem or actually moving the needle in the right direction. If we’re not, you can be sure that we’re going to adjust our approach moving forward.

Ryan Parrish on our team said it best. Authenticity. People can see it, they can hear it, they want it and they can sniff out the BS if you’re not bringing it.

I’m not saying don’t give people a platform to speak, I’m just saying that when you do, strive to make something that creates value for the audience and be authentic.