By Jill McCubbin

While thought leadership is not new, the phrase is taking on a new meaning in the social media era. Unfortunately the words ‘thought’ or ‘ideas’ don’t always go hand in hand with the concept of ‘leader’. In fact, I can think of several leaders who don’t have two original thoughts to rub together. The ones who do, however, have original ideas (for better or for worse) that make us sit up, take notice and engage in conversations.

Thought leadership is, at its core, reputation-building. It’s the buzz factor that makes you the go-to person for journalists, analysts, authors, bloggers and podcasters who build your reputation in a way advertising never could. And in the era of social media, it’s the bloggers and podcasters who are often setting the brand agenda for their mainstream media brethren.

Marketcircle Inc., is an emerging tech company that creates productivity software for Mac business and creative professionals. Not content to sit back and reap the benefits of positive product reviews Marketcircle’s CEO, Alykhan Jetha embraced the era of social media to position Marketcircle as a thought leader. In January of this year, armed with his blog, Jetha set out provoke conversations in the Mac blogosphere and I.T. media by expressing his ideas and opinions related to the iPhone. The results are tangible:

- In January 2007, riding on the wave of a nomination for a Macworld UK award, Marketcircle issued a press release amidst the hype surrounding the iPhone at MacWorld. Blog and press hits began a steady rise

- January to May, Jetha made a point of responding regularly to Mac iPhone news in his blog, entering into conversations with those who commented on his posts. Jetha was quoted/linked to by several bloggers and interviewed by blogger Gerald Buckley at g-WH!Z.com

- A second press release in April 07 resulted in a number of new thought leadership interviews. Quotes and/or links to Jetha’s blog appeared in publications such as The iPod Observer, Tech.co.uk, and Macworld. Several A-list blogs such as Gizmodo (19,417 blogs link to this site) and Blackfriars, linked to or quoted AJ’s blog. Gizmodo is seen to have as much influence as mainstream media sites like the LA Times

- Jetha was also invited to be in an online ad, and quoted, as part of Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference campaign. The most influential company in this CEO’s space was now making him part of its own buzz marketing efforts!

Since the January release, overall blog and press hits have increased 300%-500% over the previous six month period. Blog mentions now make up from 35-50% of Marketcircle’s monthly hits, up from less than 20% six months ago. Interviews, quotes, and articles/reviews featuring Marketcircle products have appeared in high-profile mainstream media such as, Macworld, ComputerWorld, NetworkWorld, IT-Enquirer, and Financial Post.

Jetha is quickly achieving what he set out to do. Bloggers, journalists, podcasters and producers are calling for interviews and/or following and quoting his blog. Marketcircle is rapidly becoming recognized as a company that is a leader in the Mac business software market. Just where Jetha wants it to be.

(Jill McCubbin is a Communications Strategist with market2world communications inc., Canada's Web 2.0 tech product launch and public relations agency.)

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