A few years ago, I came across a "content curation" service that billed itself as the easiest way to share your "thought leadership." You'd enter a few search terms, hook up your Twitter account, and start sharing articles.

It was a very generous definition of "content curation." But describing it as thought leadership was laughable.

That said, leadership communications can absolutely include sharing and commenting on useful resources and thought-provoking perspectives you find. That's especially true when you share with care (and due attribution!) and offer your own reflections on what you're linking to.

But a lot of people don't. There's a school of thought out there that stresses post frequency, clicks likes and shares over things that may be less easy to measure but have far greater impact — like attention, trust and authority.

And some folks I would have thought would know better are churning out links to the most shameless clickbait in the name of "thought leadership." I wrote about this a few years ago — but if anything, the problem just seems to be getting worse.

So let's be clear about something: a link is a promise.

When you share a link, we're taking your word for it on what we'll find when we get there.

Share a link that turns out to be clickbait… or a mediocre regurgitation of advice we've all read a thousand times before… and you're breaking that promise.

Share a headline that promises an exciting story about one thing… but only deals with that one thing in passing… and you're breaking that promise.

Share a story that turns out to be a hoax, or wildly exaggerated, or just plain not worth a reader's time… and you're breaking that promise.

Break enough promises, and you'll start breaking relationships. And no number of clicks, likes or shares is worth that.

?Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash

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