How to Be a (Fake) Thought Leader
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. 🙂
TL, DR: Think! Don’t believe everything you read and don’t try to be like Mr. Gelo and others like him.
We are living in the influence of the thought leaders that we trust more than media because they are full of fake news and we adore “celebrities” like Kim Kardashian. Visibility on social media has become more important than the knowledge and skills people have. Visibility has given us all access to better job offers, offers us the chance to sell more products and promote our work and the work of others to a wider audience and it can turn nobody into somebody.
I am not saying whether this all is bad or good, it is not my place to question it. However, we all are responsible for the world we are living in. We all are responsible for people like Kim Kardashian because we talk about them and read about them, and this all created the illusion of demand so the media is just trying to serve what we want.
The goals of the younger generation turn from, “I want to be a doctor and cure XYZ,” to “I want to be a YouTuber,” because it’s easier and doesn’t required that much work. That’s why so many people are looking for digital fame. LIKES they get can’t cure cancer, but they have become an everyday shot of dopamine for most of us. (Dopamine is a chemical that’s associated with pleasure.) Whenever someone likes or comments on a post or photograph, we get a dopamine hit. (Source: theguardian.com)
We have become so obsessed with likes, comments and followers, and with everything to do with gaining attention on our social media, that we may have forgotten about other important things in life. We adore people that are showing us their amazing lives, showing how clever they are, but, in many cases, they are using only various clever tricks to get our attention and convince us that they have the right answer that we are looking for.
How to Be a (Fake) Thought Leader
A few weeks ago, my friend told me that he would like to be popular as Mr. X (well, let’s use the name Mr. Gelo, I don’t want to give him more attention). He asked me, “How is it possible that Mr. Gelo has got so many likes and comments under his posts when his posts have no value and his articles are total rubbish?”
He believes there has to be some trick for that or perhaps Mr. Gelo has found some growth hacking trick or some smart way to trick LinkedIn algorithms. And he ended his speech with, “I want to be like him.”
“You mean like that fake ****, seriously?” was my immediate response. I reacted in that way not because I am envious that my posts and articles don’t have thousands of likes like the posts of Mr. Gelo, but simply because there are few things in life that I don’t like and one of them is when people are lying to others and manipulating them.
And I promised my friend the “manual” for how to quickly become a “fake” thought leader in which I describe what tricks Mr. Gelo and people like him are using to trick us.
If you are looking for quick fame and a way to turn into the “Kim Kardashian of LinkedIn”, like Mr. Gelo and other people like him, feel free to follow the tips in this article. However, I have a small request here. Don’t try to be like Mr. Gelo! Focus more on becoming a better you, and I promise that is all that truly matters!
How to Start
You don’t have any followers and you are just digital “nobody” on LinkedIn? Let’s fix that! Many people think that becoming “popular” is hard, that it requires you to be smart or have a talent. But it’s easier than people think.
There are three things you need at the beginning.
1. You will need to live with the fact that 50% will love you and 50% will hate you. Some people are OK with that because the number of likes they are getting is enough for them.
2. You shouldn’t be ashamed that you are going to lie and use the work of others, like their quotes, pictures, text etc., without giving them credits.
3. You need to be persistent with your efforts and understand what makes people react, what topic is going to make them tick.
In this article I am not going to help you with the first two things I mentioned. But here is the “how-to manual” for the third thing.
Would you like to sound smart? Then try to use quotes but always choose ones that are not so popular. If you are going to use ones that are not that well known, you “don’t have to” mention the author. And if you afraid that people will find out that it is from somebody else, just customize it. (Yes, we all sometimes use some quotes without mentioning the author, sometimes is an accident or because we are too lazy to find the author. But it should turn into a habit.)
Example: “The only problem we really have is we think we’re not supposed to have problems! Problems is what makes us grow.”
OMG, so true, right? So powerful! When people read it, they will hit likes and share it like crazy. The bonus is they will think that you are smart and created it!
And what should the real version look like?
Example: The only problem we really have is we think we’re not supposed to have problems! Problems call us to a higher level – face & solve them now! – Tony Robbins
Congratulations, you started using quotes from others and now you are getting more likes and followers!
Keep up the good work and if you want to sound smarter, from time to time add some random quotes into comments. Again, don’t make the mistake of adding the author of that quote.
It doesn’t matter that this quote comes from Simon Sinek. You will get your likes and people will think that you are smart! And little dopamine shots are coming every day.
You’ve got a few new followers, but it’s time to grow the network. You know that using only quotes is not good enough. You will need to add something else. Stories have been working on people for centuries. We love them and they are also the way we learned so many things when we were children and we are still learning from stories that we hear.
You can steal stories from others, but that’s something you don’t want to do. And you know that you don’t have enough stories for your posts so you will try to write fairy tale stories. Nobody knows they are not true.
Don’t worry, even if somebody finds out that your story not true, just continue posting and the comment from that person will disappear after few days or let your little minions (read followers) take care of that person in the comments. Nobody is going to attack a person who is as smart as you, right?
How to start them… It’s easy, you can just say, “Once I hired a person with the (feel free to add anything here), others didn’t give him/her a chance. But it turns out that (add something positive). And I made a great choice not to (add some lesson you learned).”
Keep it general, don’t add too many details like the name of that person and sometimes post something that is true and tag your real friend. This will give credibility to all your other made-up stories.
And don’t worry, nobody will check up on them based on your posts; you probably hired so many people with the gaps in your resume, over 50 etc., that they are probably hiring only them.
And because all these tricks are connected with psychology, one thing is going to help you here—the Confirmation Bias. Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true. (source: psychologytoday.com)
The second psychological thing that you can use and is also going to help you here is Social Proof. “Social proof is considered prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more knowledge about the current situation.“ (source: wikipedia.org)
It’s a great trick, but this explanation sounds complicated, right? Let’s simplify that. “Nine out of ten doctors recommend this pill.” When you see it, you are going to be influenced by these statements and you will probably choose this pill over others. Maybe you won’t, but many people do that.
That’s why it’s also good to add things like, “This article has 239,000 Likes, 37M views.” If 239,000 people have added “like” under this post it must be a quality article. In many cases it’s not, but people are influenced by other people and if your friends like something you probably will at least click on it or add “like” too.
Your number of followers is growing, and you are more visible than before. But you are also attracting people who spend their time double-checking your work, articles, and posts. And they find out that you are not telling the truth and you are stealing quotes and other thins. What now?
Don’t worry, your minions will save you here again (that’s why it’s important to get as many followers as possible at the beginning) because who are these people telling you that you are wrong? You are somebody, a thought leader with hundreds of thousands of followers and you already achieved something (stolen quotes, rubbish articles, general posts full of *).
But you need to expand your network even more, what now? You need to find the thing that makes people happy or angry. These two powerful emotions force us to act in our lives.
What Topics Should You Use?
There are many topics you can choose, but you will need to choose the topics that all people have in common. These topics are work, leaders (bosses), recruiters, kids, and animals.
A post about a good boss is one thing, but a post about “How terrible my boss is” will get you more reactions, so you need to post things that will split your audience so when people are reacting you will get more new visitors and followers.
And thanks to things like mirror neurons in our brain we feel connected when we can envision ourselves in the same situation. That’s why people will be connected with your posts because they all have some bad boss in their career so they all can relate to your post.
You can also share anything that is just general statement, for example, “Recruiters, always treat candidates with respect!” It doesn’t matter that most of them already do that, we all have had a bad experience with some bad recruiter. But people will react, sharing with you their bad stories about other recruiters, and they will tell you all that because they think that you understand them. You don’t, but likes are coming and remember they are the reason why you started in the first place!
Note: Don’t forget to describe from time to time some pain that others can relate to, like, “Every recruiter rejected this overqualified candidate and I gave him a chance…” You will look like a hero and, don’t worry; nobody will ask you, “Hey, can you give me the name of that person?” because who will question your statement? Plus you can always say, “I didn’t see it amongst the hundreds of comments.”
And if you post something that you can’t back up, just add, “This chart is supported by multiple studies.” And add the URL on only one study that is available only if you pay for access. Again, you don’t have to worry that somebody will pay for access and find out that this study is describing a completely different topic. You posted that a few days ago and today is a different day and you are just sharing something new and you don’t have time to check old posts.
You don’t feel the rush of adrenaline and excitement from new followers anymore only because the number is not growing as fast as before?
This trick will help you to kick-start the engine and get some new followers.
False Promises and Tagging
There are two tricks to get more views through tagging people.
1. Just ask people to tag you into their posts or comment. “Add me into your post if you would like to get my attention on your post.” (This will show that post to the network of the person who added their name into the comments)
2. Ask people to tag their friends if you think this post is interesting for them (This will attract these friends to your post)
If tagging is not working as well as you planned, then just add hope to your post. Giving people hope is free. We are all hoping for something; some people are hoping for simple things, others are hoping to get a job, they are desperate, and they need to get a job because they lost one recently. You can trick them and get more followers (yes, people doing that should be ashamed). Just promise something like, “Tag your name into my post with the info that you are looking for a job. Several people reported that they found jobs after my network and I engaged on their posts.”
Your promise has no value and nobody can double-check if it’s true. And if they ask you, “Who are these several people?” and you don’t have the answers, you can ignore it or just ask some of your friends to play these several people.
And although you are promising that recruiters from your network will see it, they will not because they already blocked you or are not paying to attention to your post. And going through 300 comments to find the person who needs help is not the way recruiters are spending their time. But that is not your concern, people who will tag you or add the comment to your post will not find out about it.
Never, ever forget to add a call to action under your post and articles, something like, “What do you think?”, “Agreed?” or, “Am I right?” and any other triggers for people to react or like. The flow of likes needs to continue because you need the constant flow of dopamine.
And keep in mind to keep your posts and articles short and general. Nobody will read, share or comment on articles that are long (like this article). And keep them general so people will not start asking questions, these people who are full of envy because they would like to be like you.
Congratulations, you have become a (fake) Thought Leader! It wasn’t an easy journey and required some time, but you made it! And if the time and persistence with your posts is the only thing stopping you, don’t worry; you can hire an advertisement agency that will do the job.
I didn’t write this article to give advice on how to be like Mr. Gelo but to show you and others how easily these people are manipulating us. And it is up to you if you are going to support these people through likes or comments. These fake thought leaders are using psychology tricks and they are preying on people looking for some hope that their situation is going to be better, like they will find a job through them.
Posts and articles from people like Mr. Gelo are like horoscopes, they are applicable to everyone, and lots of them are just very general and made-up stories. And when we stop double-checking facts, and embrace everything we read as truth, we help spread the false information even further and give power to those who are creating them. Trust is a great thing, but blind trust, where you trust everything you see or hear, is a recipe for others to manipulate you. That’s something you should never, ever forget.
We all are going to leave some legacy on this planet. Some of us are going to collect as many likes as we can, others will choose to leave a legacy through the quality of their relationship and kids and not their number of views and likes.
If you looking only for likes, there are many growth hacking tricks on how to get them, how to get more views, more likes, and more comments; how to turn your post with 1,000 views into 10,000 and more. But tricking people just to get your daily dose of likes into your veins shouldn’t be the goal.
In the end, the quality will always be revealed over time and fake people, just like fake news, will fade away in time.