OK, I admit it. I jumped into this whole social media, blogging, new world of marketing in order to pump up my “street cred” and get more business. Joining me in this pursuit are millions of others hoping to do the same thing. Can we all be thought leaders?
Recently, I stumbled upon two blogs that got me to thinking. First was the Extinction of the Expert, by Denise Gershbein. She proclaims that “the age of the expert is over” because with unfettered access to information, people can find all the information they want without relying on thought leaders or experts. David Raab retorts in Are Experts Obsolete? Not in My Informed Opinion that in many situations “the collective wisdom of the Internet won’t suffice.” Experts are still needed, especially when people need solutions personalized to their needs.
Is this a paradox? We are scrambling to launch social media marketing initiatives so we can participate in dialogues with potential consumers who will view us as thought leaders and eventually buy our products and services. On the other hand, we are diminishing the very notion of an expert by the millions of us who are trying to do so. As you know, questions lead to more questions and now I’ve come up with 5 which I cannot answer.
- Will social media lead to more experts or fewer? The easy answer would be “more.” The ability to bypass traditional media and publish online (including blogs like this one) has democratized thought leadership. It makes me wonder — are there more experts now or are they just easier to find? However, there are millions (or should I exaggerate and say bazillions) of people who are posing as experts when they really aren’t. Will people get so turned off with the whole notion of thought leadership that it results in fewer real experts?
- Do people trust crowd-sourcing for important decisions? If people in your crowd or community have the knowledge you’re looking for; they can usually be trusted. However, if your communities are like mine, they might be a little suspect.
- How can you tell a real thought leader from a poser? In certain fields (e.g. medicine, law, etc.) there are groups that give accreditation and establish the legitimacy of an expert. Marketing is a whole different ballgame — anyone can claim to be an expert. With the media outlets available today, it’s very difficult for clients to separate real marketing experts from the get-rich-quick scam artists.
- What’s the difference between thought leadership and self-promotion? Not much, I’m afraid. After all, how can a person get to be an expert unless they use a little self-promotion? But where do you draw the line? The fact that I’ve got Twitter messages scheduled to go out every hour probably goes too far.
- When is there too much information? I don’t know about you, but I could spend all day going through blogs, webinars, white papers, analyst reports and all the other information that’s available. Do I have to read it all to be a thought leader in marketing? I hope not.
So if you’re battling with some of these questions as you fortify your marketing credentials, I hope you have more luck with these issues than I.
David Raab- Are Experts Obsolete? http://customerexperiencematrix.blogspot.com/2010/04/are-experts-obsolete-not-in-my info.
Ellen Carney, Forrester, www.forrester.com
Denise Gershbein, Extinction of the Expert http://designmind.frogdesign.com/articles/motion/extinction-of-the-expert.html
About the Author:
Kenyon Blunt is the CEO at SIGMA Marketing Group. Connect with Kenyon on or follow him on .