“We want this to be a ‘thought leadership’ blog.” Have you heard that before?
“Thought leadership” can be a convenient reason for undertaking all kinds of marketing initiatives without clearly defined goals or objectives: Twitter, business blogging, PR initiatives, you name it.
What the heck is thought leadership anyway – and how can you measure it? How do you know when you have it? Do you find it in:
- Invitations to speak at conferences?
- Mentions by the press?
- Ratings by the analysts?
- Traffic to your blog?
- Your Klout score?
Certainly impact is part of it – if a ‘thought leader’ blogs and no one reads it, then whose thoughts are they leading, anyway?
But external measurements of influence like Klout can be gamed: see The Problem with Klout: An Infographic by Mark Schaefer.
Is ‘thought leadership’ obscuring your true objectives?
Each of the symptoms of thought leadership listed above (traffic, analyst/press mentions) is specific and measurable. But are they really your objectives?
- Do you care more about raw number of hits to your blog, or about the actual prospects visiting your blog that convert to customers or enter the lead nurturing cycle?
- Do you care about the attention of analysts and other bloggers, or the attention of your prospective customers and the specific publications or blogs that they read?
- Do you care about your raw number of Twitter followers, or whether your partners, customers, prospects and others are following you?
Blog traffic is great – but it’s just traffic, not customers. It’s more important to focus on the specific people you want to reach, even if their numbers are small. Mack Collier wrote a great post about a how the actual value of a blog posting had little to do with how many people visited and read it: The 3 Critical Content Creation Questions.
Instead of aiming for leadership, try identifying meaningful objectives for your blog and working to fulfill them. One day you may even find yourself with a loyal following.