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Reason #1: EVERYONE IS DOING IT. A cursory overview of Mashable or any social-media-related LinkedIn group will reveal the sad truth: so many people are doing Top 10 This or Top 15 That that it’s become absolutely pervasive and downright boring. What happened to creativity? It’s like the term “in harm’s way”—completely overused. Please just stop.

Reason #2: IT’S AN ARBITRARY NUMBER. There are often many ways to achieve search engine optimization or social media hiring secrets or Twitter tools you can use. Top 5, Top 10, Top 13.5…you’re choosing an arbitrary number to not-so-transparently try to make your blog post seem easily digestible. There’s really no Top 5 anything, there’s just your own self-promotion and again, it’s become super-boring.

Reason #3: IT KILLS YOUR DIFFERENTIATION. Sure, it’s great to try to capture attention by suggesting your content won’t require a heavy time investment. Shouldn’t your content already be targeted at a time-starved audience? If you want your content to sound like everyone else’s, go ahead: give us your Top 10 Tips to Tepid.

Reason #4: YOU REINFORCE THE ECHO CHAMBER. Let’s say you create an interesting post and it gets retweeted or reblogged and reGoogled and regurgitated and now we’re hearing about your Top 5 Ways to Achieve SEO Nirvana post through multiple channels.  IT it it GETS gets gets REPETITIVE tive tive.

Reason #5: There is no reason #5 because the first four are plenty. Show your creativity for god’s sake. Do something different. Stand out from the crowd. Don’t follow the pack of blog lemmings off the Cliff of Undifferentiation. Demonstrate your value, without demonstrating your willingness to follow others.

UPDATE, 9/22: Every once in awhile, a marketing meme sweeps through the profession. Sometimes it’s “repeat the 800 number three times in the DRTV ad.” Another is, “make sure you have a suggestive call to action at the bottom of your mailer.” Now it’s “make sure you try to create a definitive list in your content by calling it your Top X Whatever.” And what happens? Everyone lines up to do the exact same thing, and individuality and differentiation go out the window. And every ad, every mailer, every infomercial, and every blog post sounds exactly the same.

It’s tough enough to have your content stand out in the noisy social space. Don’t water it down by jumping on the same tired techniques as everyone else.

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