Listen, I want to warn you upfront that this article might make you uncomfortable. I’m going to be pretty blunt regarding these two signs you’re trying too hard with your brand on social media, whether it be a “traditional” brand, entrepreneurial brand, or career brand. I’m also going to tell you how to fix these two things, so don’t stress.
Sign 1: You think Thought Leadership is Parroting bigger Parrots in your industry
Seth Godin’s book Tribes, published in 2008, is an example of this parroting. If you’re involved in branding, then you’ve undoubtedly come across the advice to “build a tribe” around your brand. This is absolutely solid advice, but it did not originate from the social media power users with hundreds of thousands of followers from whom you likely got the advice. It originated from a book they read. They aren’t thought leaders, they are thought followers.
You see the parroting effect the most in Twitter chats. Instead of answering a question uniquely, a person or brand will parrot the influencers in their respective industries virtually word for word. This strategy does absolutely nothing to differentiate your brand.
The fix: Channel the spirit of your college self and do some old-fashioned academic research. Go to a bookstore and read actual books if you truly seek an authoritative source. Go to your local library and access its database to see if there are any scholarly articles relating to your topic.
True thought leadership comes from synthesizing information from a variety of sources to add something new to the conversation.
Sign 2: You’re a Trend-Hopper
The worst thing to be in the digital space is a trend hopper. I’m not saying you shouldn’t adapt to new platforms and strategies — you absolutely should. But the people who are trying too hard become obsessed with the newest trend.
One of these trends you might have hopped on is the “content curation = thought leadership” trend. Some “power user” probably told you that the “secret sauce” to “organically growing your brand” is to schedule your posts using Buffer or Hootsuite. This user probably told you to load up your queue with “articles your target audience will love.” This is going to be harsh, but it’s almost 2017: No one in your audience cares about your generic article shares. They followed you to interact with you and your thoughts.
The Fix: Absorb what the “power users” are doing, but don’t completely replicate their strategy. Don’t just hop on the latest trend because an industry influencer floods your timeline with 20 articles a day on how the given trend is the next big thing in marketing.
Instead, focus your social media efforts on real, human connection. Regardless of what the sexy platform is at the time, all social media platforms revolve around human connection. Instead of loading up ten generic articles and quotes into your queue each day, why not start ten conversations each day?
Final Thoughts of Encouragement
I apologize if any of that offended you. I just wanted you to understand that actual authenticity has never been more important in your digital strategy. In our increasingly automated world, what people really want is human connection. All you really have to do is revolve your branding strategy around being you, and you’ll be fine.