Peer pressure. It's pretty powerful isn't it? We just can't help ourselves sometimes from following the crowd. We think, wow, if this person or that person loves a particular product or service, it must be great! I admit. I've certainly been guilty of this. How about you?

Following the crowd, however, can be dangerous. This is something I've learned over my career and is especially true in the investing world. As an investment manager and financial advisor for many years, I was taught to do just the opposite of what the herd was doing. When nobody wants to own stocks and fear is prevalent, that's the time to buy (and it's very difficult to buy during those times). When euphoria exists and people can't get enough of stocks, it's probably time to lighten up.

In the digital age with the proliferation of social networking, we all have the ability to share, showcase, and recommend our preferences for various products, services, companies, and brands. It's the digital leaders who can have the most influence on their fans, connections, and followers.

A trend that I've begin noticing amongst online marketers and digital thought leaders lately is that many of them are utilizing and promoting the same digital products and services. While I do feel it is very acceptable to promote and endorse products and services that you believe in and use in your business (and I do on this site as well), I'm more so intrigued with the level of conformity that I see.

Remember this quote?

Everything popular is wrong.  -Oscar Wilde

Yes I've fallen into the follow the herd mentality as well from time to time. It's tough when you don't know which solution is best for your needs and it's easy to just go with what everyone else is doing! However, I think it's smart to kick the tires and do your own homework. The good news is, you can always change your mind.

Many times I end up being disappointed with the most popular products and services and have found better features, user experience, and support with some of the less popular offerings that exist.

As a digital leader, how can you be different if you stand for what everybody else stands for?

If you're going to be a digital leader, I believe you have to dare to be different. Question everything. Do you own investigating. Test, experiment, and research…especially before you endorse and recommend to your community. Don't just take someone's word for it no matter who they are, and don't expect someone to take your word for it without doing their own homework.

Furthermore, don't be afraid to stand for something that may not be as popular or widely adopted.

There are so many quality options available in the digital marketplace today that it's not anywhere close to a one size fits all environment. Understanding which tools are right for you and your business based upon your unique needs, and also knowing your audience as you decide which tools to endorse or recommend is critical for building online influence and trust.

If you really want to be a digital leader, dare to be different. Don't follow the herd.