Social Media Thought #4: The Thought Leader

Last year there was a Nissan spot, where 2 guys are driving and the one exclaims to the other, “I am the man”! His buddy looks at him and says, “If you have to say you are the man, you are not, the man.”

In the upper right hand corner of Twitter, where a person’s bio is located, you will frequently see that someone will either attach 7 titles or more to their bios or..will call themselves a social media thought leader, guru, ninja, or egads… expert.

Which leads us to today’s simple post.

Some can and should let others know that they are thought leaders-it’s a short list; and for the rest, it’s up to your peers, customers and your clients to determine whether you are a thought leader. If you are, then it will happen. If you are not, eventually people will realize that too. Your work will speak for itself.

On thought leadership

Yesterday Peter Kim tweeted the following:

140 characters are for passing thoughts, not thought leadership.

On Monday, Beth Harte and I spent a solid 15 to 20 minutes on Google chat talking about leadership in social media and the best way to push the thinking further. The reasons why were myriad, but the gist was the seemingly attractive proposition of repurposing other people’s stuff as your own and then passing one’s self off as a thought leader.

Which leads me to this. I love when people in this space are like the following image:

sponge

But when they pass themselves off as social media thought leaders based on the accomplishments of others and their content and ideas, then we have a problem. You see the term thought leader in and of itself is innocuous.  It implies so much and yet defines so little. And that just may be the problem. Too many self appointed or even anointed social media thought  leaders and not enough social media leaders.

This space needs leaders

Beth and I have had many discussions on this topic and interestingly enough those discussions have occurred on the phone, via twitter, on Google chat, on the comments section of some of her blog posts, and in the comments section of other people’s blog posts. It obviously is something we both are thinking about and passionate about. I’m not saying there are no social media leaders or thinkers for that matter. But it’s just time to move things forward and let the trolls fight over the scraps that fall on the floor.

So what’s your point Marc?

My point is, I’d like to see more of a focus put on people and ideas that are reshaping the social media landscape rather than a focus on people repeating what they hear or see on the social media landscape. Those are not thought leaders. They’re thought repeaters.

In closing, think about this quote by Deborah Schultz via Twitter:

When authority is defined by influence – popularity beats knowledge…

We need to change this…

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