Of course, there may be a few exceptions, but I bet the average LinkedIn user belongs to that generation who went to a traditional school with more or less traditional rules and grades. With activities where we had to color inside the lines and not one inch outside of them. With kids being lined up to make up perfectly straight rows where we belonged here or there based on a specific factor, which could be age or sex or height or even merit. In short, difference was seldom encouraged, least of all tolerated.
Turns out those kids have grown up now and most of them are on social media. The vast majority of them want to use social media to stand out, to get their voices heard, to influence and lead, to make an impact. All of the things which, from an early age, they learnt to sacrifice in the name of a higher aim: fitting in.
But how can you attract more leads, create a new community, launch a new remarkable product or service, or reach a new market if you and your brand or business or enterprise don’t stand out?
The problem with standing out is not how we do it, but that we must do it. We have to stand out.
We, the children who were ceaselessly told to follow the rules and were encouraged to desperately want to do as everyone else, in order to fit in, are suddenly faced with the challenge to innovate. To disrupt. To embody change in order to survive in increasingly competitive markets where few people are listening.
Now we know we need to draw the attention of the twenty-first-century consumer, a consumer who, a priori, is distracted and busy and in such a hurry to care for our ads or, if you prefer, our branded content.
Now, beyond all stereotypes and prejudice and fear of criticism and judgement, we social media users and brands are called to stand out from the crowd we were once told we had to belong to.
Let’s consider the following fact for a minute: most of the great brands and products as we know them were launched by misfits. Take Dante Alighieri, for instance. Or Galileo Galilei. Or Charles Darwin. Or Albert Einstein. McDonald’s. Apple. Even Facebook, which, paradoxically, many people use in order to feel that they fit in. These were all envisaged by misfits and outsiders. These people, or the people behind these projects, were none of them perfect. And they didn’t exactly bother to follow the rules, right? Even when not following the rules brought about a bunch of failed attempts and criticism and judgement.
So here’s a simple truth for the timid and the low-profile and all of us, in fact, who are dreading risk and settle for safe and ordinary and crowdy: there are many ways we can be different and stand out. But we can only do it if we come to terms with the fact that we too have a right—an implicit duty, in fact—to give it a try.
So now that you know, you can focus on the how and wonder: ‘How will I try to be different today in order to stand out from the crowd?’
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