This post was written by John Hall, a contributor to Forbes.com.
It’s difficult to stay ahead of the curve in the world of content. The barriers can be so low that they attract people making noise about new trends — not the thought leaders we need to learn from. In addition, content can come in many forms, creating a large, unmanageable swath of information.
Here’s a list of leaders who will help you weed through that information and get a bead on where the world of content is headed.
1. Ryan Roslansky of LinkedIn
It’s no secret that LinkedIn is turning into a content king. LinkedIn’s four core content areas include the Influencer program, which provides content from 300 of the world’s key thought leaders, such as Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, and Richard Branson; LinkedIn Today, which surfaces personalized and trending news; the ability to discover and share professional content and topics via SlideShare presentations; and starting professional conversations in a more visual way with the use of rich media like photos. By surfacing the right content to the right members at the right time, LinkedIn provides professionals with relevant insights that can help them be more productive and make smarter business decisions throughout their workday and career. In a quick conversation with Ryan, you sense the brilliance LinkedIn is shining on the content world, as well as the passion he has for the company.
2. Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan at HubSpot
As much as I wanted to avoid listing a two-person leader, it would have been unjust not to recognize the combination of tech and strategy at HubSpot. In a plan put together six years ago, Dharmesh and Brian announced the launch of Signals and new Inbound Marketing Software. Their leadership in the inbound area has moved content areas like whitepapers, blogs, and eBooks into a new realm. Their blog is a valuable resource for diving into inbound content.
3. Evan Williams of Medium
With a track history including Blogger and Twitter, you’d predict that Evan might have another success story in his future. The current content world tends to reward content that chases page views. Medium’s “reddit” style of voting rewards content quality. As well as lists and quick shares are doing now, companies like Medium will last for the long haul because Evan’s vision focuses on quality, rather than low-cost page views.
4. Scott Roen of American Express
Brands are just now starting to catch on to the value of quality content, while Scott and his team have believed in it for several years. The new OPEN Forum combines a platform with quality content with a community of small business owners and the experts who can help them overcome real challenges.
For example, Josh Sprague, the CEO of an outdoor gear company, recently asked the OPEN Forum community how others are managing to ramp up their Facebook engagement. Not only did the OPEN Forum editor jump in and suggest an article published on OPEN Forum, but dozens of fellow CEOs and business owners offered advice as well. In a short encounter with Scott, you can get acquainted with the creativity and innovation fueling AmEx as a leader in content.
5. Peter Koechley and Eli Pariser of Upworthy
Like HubSpot, it’s difficult to separate a two-person leadership team, especially when it combines the experience with The Onion and MoveOn.org. Fast Company recently declared Upworthy the fastest-growing media property of all time. By combining highly curated and emotional content, they have been able to create a virality machine with content that’s substantially higher in social sharing than other media properties. They set a great example for incorporating the importance of social sharing in content distribution.
6. Shane Snow of Contently
Contently is building the technological plumbing that could one day underlie all great brand publishing on the Web (and a lot of traditional publishing as well), while simultaneously providing a home and free tools for the thousands of professional journalists who now work as freelancers. Shane has gained fans by providing an opportunity for many reporters and, at the same time, streamlining the content process for brands. As more enter the realm of brand content publishing, Shane is one to keep an eye on.
7. Mark Johnson of Zite
There are quite a few content aggregators on the scene, but Zite’s mobile platform seems to always stay ahead of the curve. The company most recently jumped into the wearables area via the launch of Google Glass. By combining artificial intelligence looking at millions of articles each day from tens of thousands of sources with breakthrough technology, Mark’s a leader to follow in the content aggregator space.
8. Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post
It should come as no surprise that Arianna made this list. HuffPost has been a content platform that has given readers a channel for niches ranging from sleep to sex. The publication has combined blogger/contributor content with headline-worthy news from sources like the AP and Reuters — and made the combination feel natural. In everything from her political career to her controversial books, Arianna has been bold.
9. Ann Handley of MarketingProfs
In a very crowded space, MarketingProfs has developed a reputation for equipping businesses to successfully market their products and services. Ann believes the biggest opportunity in her space is the idea of brands as publishers. Those brands need to have an idea of what they’re doing so as not to squander this opportunity. If you’re going to jump into brand publishing, pay attention to a leader like Ann.
10. Rustin Banks of TapInfluence
Rustin may be an unknown, but that status looks pretty temporary. Tapping into influencers is an essential part of content distribution. Rather than suffering the headache of creating your own channels, TapInfluence allows you to “tap into others.” Others have journeyed into this area, but Rustin’s natural passion to make a true impact on the bottom line and deliver a turnkey process will differentiate him from others. Keep an eye out for Rustin.
This list is all over the world of content for a reason: Brand publishing, content platforms, content aggregation, and content marketing are all important. It’s vital to not just follow one, but to see how they all function and integrate with each other. I’m sure there are a lot of great leaders I missed, but following these leaders will certainly help you stay ahead of the content curve
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that assists individuals and brands in growing their influence through thought leadership and content marketing programs. Influence & Co., one of the leading providers of high quality expert content to the world’s top publications, is the creator of Contributor Weekly. Connect with John on Twitter or Google+.
Tags: Business,Social Media,Strategy