Back when I was working at another place almost a decade ago, my boss lamented about how to make our website rank higher in search results. I asked a very smart friend of mine (that happened to work for a large search engine company) how we might go about it. He said very matter-of-factly, "Have your webpage be about what you are about. That's it." This answer was not acceptable to my boss at the time. Wasn’t there a thing we could buy or a keyword we could tuck away somewhere that would force the masses of the Internet to us? Nope. Just be about what you are about and the search crawlers will find you.
Of course, some arrows don't hurt.
The Swash Labs Media team gets the “How do I list higher in search?” question often. There are a handful of ways we can put together campaigns to answer this call to action. (That’s secret sauce stuff so I’m skipping over it.) All of these ways require time and work. We set up a plan, and prepare to schedule our days around adding one or two things that will ultimately pay off in the long run. Then we leave the room. Sometimes a month or two into the new process, a client may begin to do what we refer to in the shop as "go rogue" and throw the plan to the wind by jumping on a trend, or using unrelated hashtags or some other viral rigmarole.
When we follow up with the ‘hey bro’ phone call the response is resoundingly, "Well, I was just trying..."
This is not to say people shouldn’t trend-hop, hashtag, or make cat videos. After all, there is a large section of social branding/advertising and psychology that demands it. As a matter of personal brand, if these things are your jam, stop trying and bring it. Do it 'cause you must, not ‘cause you think it will make you popular. If it speaks to what you are already doing, bring it, and then it will be the work standing out front, instead of the trend.
I took the long way around to get back to this fact, but I find this to be true for me on a personal level. I’m currently in the middle of a personal rebranding project, technically it is more about PR than anything, but that's for another blog post. I’m doing that whole stronger, better, faster thing that strikes at a certain age. The more I focus on just doing the things that I enjoy, that I’m good at doing (or the things I'm working at being good at doing) the more my day to day improves, and the more my work improves. I am all about the Internet, Logistics, and Media, so now I get to sit with the data nerds and internet cool kids, and bring it.