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8 Ways Social Media Use Can Backfire on Your Personal Branding Chasing branding just for the sake of branding can backfire on us.

By Jon Michail Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Comparing your metrics to others breeds jealousy.
  • 'Gooroos' make it sound so easy — just strategically use hashtags, leverage influencer collaborations and you, too, can amass legions of fans. But behind the scenes, it often takes serious money, connections or black hat growth tactics.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Personal branding is hot! Everyone wants to build their personal brand and grow their following on social media. But most go about it the wrong way, getting caught up in vanity metrics and quick hits of validation that don't lead to real success.

Here's why chasing branding just for the sake of branding can backfire.

1. Hooking followers is not the main goal

A common mistake is thinking getting more followers or likes is the end game. But followers are not the same as fans. Just because someone clicks "follow" does not mean they truly value what you offer. They may just be vaguely curious or think you look attractive in photos. Maybe they followed back to be polite. But they are not necessarily engaged or loyal.

Authentic personal branding means cultivating true fans who eagerly await your next blog post, course or product. They champion you as friends because your work has impacted them.

That's powerful branding — not just accumulating followers who barely know you. Chasing follower counts encourages taking shortcuts, including black hat tactics like fake connections. But meaningful connection requires consistent, quality work.

Related: 8 Reasons a Powerful Personal Brand Will Make You Successful

2. Don't just play at being an influencer

Some treat building a personal brand like playing dress-up. They emulate influencer photos without having in-depth knowledge to share. Content stays superficial because creating deep value is hard work. But those who put in the effort to truly master a niche can build an authority site or platform. That leads to collaborations, consultations, courses and other income streams. Faking it for the 'gram just won't cut it in the long run.

To be sustainable, becoming an authentic influencer takes tremendous expertise, consistency and work ethic. It's not something you can fake your way into with stylized photos and curated aesthetics alone. True influencers dedicate themselves to providing real value, not just appearances.

Related: Why Personal Branding Must Be Your First Focus

3. External validation feels good...But is fleeting

Getting likes and positive comments provides a quick hit of dopamine. But these emotional highs are ephemeral. Once the notification buzz wears off, people feel empty again.

In contrast, focusing on meaningful work provides a lasting sense of purpose and pride. Look for validation from within by creating content that contributes value to your field. That will sustain you much more than chasing outward validation from others.

The validation that comes from creating something of value is deeper and longer-lasting than the fleeting rush of seeing likes roll in. Learn to notice your inner sense of satisfaction from a job well done.

4. Personal branding has a dark side

An obsessive focus on self-image has downsides. I've seen it firsthand with clients. Continually posing for selfies to show off perfect outfits or get flattering angles can damage self-esteem. Comparing your metrics to others breeds jealousy.

There are ethical concerns when income depends on followers buying things. The pressures of constantly creating, always being "on" for followers and monitoring engagement stats can be psychologically unhealthy. Balance personal branding efforts with other pursuits.

The unending competition for likes and follows can quickly become addictive. Be mindful of when these activities start interfering with mental health or relationships. Remember, social media is an enabling tool. Use it smartly.

Related: 7 Social Media Mistakes Every Brand Should Avoid

5. Branding should not eclipse your purpose

Some lose sight of why they started creating content in the first place — like sharing hard-won life lessons or helping others in their field. But their original purpose gets obscured by visions of internet fame and riches.

Staying true to your deeper "why" leads to more meaningful work. Keep perspective by asking if you'd still create without the personal brand attached. If sharing your message is what matters most, the right audience will eventually find you.

Don't let the quest for branding overtake your core purpose. Start by identifying your intrinsic motivations for creating beyond money or followers. Keep asking yourself what unique value you offer and who you most want to help. Then, let that sincerity come through.

6. Beware the hype around building a massive following

'Gooroos' make it sound so easy — just strategically use hashtags, leverage influencer collaborations and you, too, can amass legions of fans. But behind the scenes, it often takes serious money, connections or black hat growth tactics.

Building an engaged community organically around your specialized niche takes time. Scale your expectations and define success on your terms - not someone else's promises of internet riches.

You should focus on growth through consistently providing value, not buying followers or fake engagement.

7. Form connections, not just followers

Networking to make strategic connections has value. But collecting superficial contacts just to boost numbers helps no one. Similarly, mentioning big names in your posts just to get on their radar looks desperate.

Focus instead on forming mutually beneficial partnerships with those who align with your values and can expand your reach. Partner selectively rather than chasing every possible connection.

Seek out collaborations that make sense by providing value to potential partners' audiences as well. Don't just pursue people for what they can do for you. Find ways to support others in your field authentically.

Related: Is Social Media Making You Less Social?

8. Slow and steady brand building wins the race

Consistency and patience are key for organically growing a personal brand. Creating value and building authority in your niche can take years. There are no quick fixes or instant shortcuts.

Remind yourself that lasting impact matters more than immediate metrics. Keep perspective by reflecting on how far you've already come. Your long-term progress is more important than any temporary setbacks or plateaus along the journey.

In conclusion, focus on real relationships

Rather than chasing the temporary high of driving likes, comments, and follows, focus on developing real relationships with potential superfans. Create content that provides true value for them. Build trust by being authentic and delivering consistently over time.

A small, engaged audience that loves your work can become your tribe and spread your message further than a faceless mob of followers ever could. Nurture real connections - not just vanity metrics. The rest will follow.

Jon Michail

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and Group CEO of Image Group International

Jon Michail is the CEO and founder of Image Group International, an Australia-based corporate and personal-brand image advisory and coaching organization that conducts transformational seminars, workshops and one-on-one coaching in over four continents.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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