6 Reasons Why You Should Not Post Inspirational Quotes
A few weeks ago, I published a blog on translation quotes. My intention was to make it easier for translators and entrepreneurs in the translation business to add these quotes to their content. I wanted to introduce the blog with a bit of theory on why it is good to share quotes. As I was looking for some background information, all I could find were reasons not to share inspirational quotes.
Given the vast amount of inspirational quotes shared on social media as well as in the real, offline world, this surprised me, even though I am not a big fan of inspirational quotes either (I often find them to be too sentimental). This blog shares reasons why you should not post inspirational quotes, so that you as an entrepreneur, CEO or marketer can decide for yourself whether the quote you want to share is truly worth it.
Your inspirational quotes are uninspiring
You may post an inspirational quote on social media thinking that you can actually inspire someone to change one’s life for the better. It is unlikely that this will happen though. As Gabriella Rackoff says: “The chance that some quote appearing on Facebook between a silly cat video and some vacation photos will somehow change the trajectory of my life/day/hour is slim.” Think about it: what change in your life has started by reading a single quote?
Some even call these inspirational quotes uninspiring and cliché. Rackoff continues: “Many people throughout history and many people alive today are truly inspirational. Nevertheless, randomly quoting them out of context is usually meaningless, often because the quote is so famous that it comes across as cliché rather than making you think about the meaning behind it.”
Public perception towards inspirational quotes has shifted to the negative
Anqi Cong calls inspirational quotes a cliché too, and even cheesy and passé. “From the perspective of the 18-to-25 generation, they are posted only by preteens who do not yet know the ropes of social media and the older generation trying far too hard to be cool. The 18-to-25 generation is one that a brand should be looking to convert to lifelong customers, not estrange.”
Type in the words ‘Inspirational quotes are’ in the Google search bar and the following suggestions come up. I feel this is quite a good indication of how the general public feels about inspirational quotations.
Your inspirational quotes are an expression of self-importance
Posting inspirational quotes can come across as an expression of self-importance. You try to sound smart as a brand, but you may be judging other people or brands. Nobody likes that friend on Facebook. As Rackoff explains: “It is like you have something deep to offer your community while your superficial friends are wasting their lives posting poolside hotdog legs.” Do not be that friend/brand/status update.
Your inspirational quotes can alienate your customers
The message you are trying to convey may not come across, or it may lead to your audience thinking exactly the opposite. According to Rackoff, a quote can sound generically inspiring with no actual practical implications. “When it comes to a brand, you are selling a product. In 99.9% of cases, it involves a product that people can easily live without. That means that when you are telling people to meditate on the meaning of life, you probably do not intend for them to come to the conclusion that they could do yoga just as well without the $100 pants you are offering.”
About seeing those quotes on Pinterest, Amelia Diamond says, “Do not let the calligraphy fool you – rules are there for a reason.” She takes the example of a photo of three girls jumping off the edge of a pool at night, holding each other’s hands over their heads with knees bent high. It says No regrets. “Tell that to the girl who — about an hour later — found herself explaining to the cops that they were not breaking in to someone’s house since the neighbor’s backyard is technically outside. Or to the girl who accidentally forgot that her phone was in her pocket mid-splash, the one who broke her toe upon landing, and the fourth girl who took said picture and knew this was a bad idea all along.” People can take your images and quotes literally, creating a distance between them and your brand. That is exactly the opposite from what you intend to achieve.
Diamond offers more examples of how she looks at quotes. “Take one I just saw today: Great things never came from comfort zones. False. Many great things come from comfort zones: water coloring, lunch, kittens, laughing, biscuits! You know what happens outside of comfort zones? A tiger bites your arm off.” Also, “some of these quotes just sound completely insane. Forget all of the reasons it will not work and focus on the one reason that it will. Well, just because the skunk you adopted has not sprayed you yet does not mean it will not.” See, what works for some people does not work for others. Make sure you do not alienate important customers.
Your audience wants to hear your story in your words, not in those of inspirational quotes
Rosie Waterland urges everyone to stop using inspirational quotes: “You need to resist the temptation to communicate via words that are not your own and which only vaguely apply to your specific situation.” She thinks it is a deliberate move of the people posting them to seek attention: “Inspirational quotes are – by definition – meant to garner attention by being deliberately ambiguous.”
Waterland illustrates this using the example of Jodhi Meares and her “Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo – Jon Sinclair” picture on Instagram a few days before Waterland wrote her blog. “Jodhi Meares is the ex of James Packer/used to be a model/lady who was in the news last week for crashing her car after driving with a blood alcohol level about 1 million times over the limit. The picture of the quote was accompanied by a caption comprising of two kisses, because obviously the ambiguous quote had clearly communicated everything that needed to be said. ‘Everything’ being Hey, I know I came really close to killing someone last week after being reckless, selfish and irresponsible, but I am moving on. xx. At least, that is the event I assume the quote was referring to. She may just be ‘bruised’ by her failure to find the remote control – how would I know?”
To show how ambiguous inspirational quotes are, she has translated several of them into what she thinks they mean. It is rather funny: check it out.
Inspirational quotes are often mentioned on “habits of highly annoying people on Facebook” lists
As mentioned, the general perception towards inspirational quotes has shifted to the negative. This is reflected in lists on annoying people on social media. These lists thus describe the people and brands you do not want to see on your social media timelines. Guess what is included in many of those lists? That is right, people and brands posting inspirational quotes.
Two examples of such lists are the ones written by Jonathan Anker and Vanessa Van Edwards. As Anker says: “It might give you some kind of philosophical/intellectual satisfaction to share these urgent pearls of wisdom, but here is the thing about inspirational quotes: they do not actually inspire anyone. Even if they do, they are forgotten as soon as the person scrolls past it to the next item on their News Feed. Sample thought process: Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.” Wow, she is so right about that. I am so fortunate and really need to … AAAHHH! Jenny is engaged!”
Van Edwards puts it somewhat differently: “Tis the privilege of friendship to quote nonsense and have unto you friends who may discredit such nonsense and here unto do onto others thou may hath blessed feelings bird in the bush or change the world if careful what you wish for by the power vested in me shut up.”
What can I do for you regarding inspirational content?
Inspirational content needs to be informative, easy to share for those inspired and written well. Do you feel inspired by a piece of content that is full of grammar mistakes or typos, or that is in a language you do not understand? My guess is no. I am CEO of affordable Dutch translation agency BudgetVertalingOnline (for translations English <> Dutch) and of international translation platform TranslationWebshop (on which you can find a professional translator in three easy steps). I can therefore help you if you want to reach a bigger audience with your inspirational content. Would you like to get in touch? Send me an email (email@example.com), send me a Tweet (@GdenHolder) or fill out the quotation form.
It would be really nice if you shared my blog on your social media! Please use the buttons below.