“But enough about me. What about you? What do you think of me?”
—Bette Midler in Beaches
I was at a women’s event last week when the topic of personal branding and social media came up. Lots of back and forth on platforms and timing. And whether to outsource the whole thing.
As usual, I was the contrarian in the room. I believe that if you are looking to raise your profile on a social network – Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook – your posts should reflect who you are—holistically. The idea that you are one person at work and another in your “life” is passé. Your friends and colleagues are part of your network and want to know all of you. Just remember not to be annoying. No one cares what you had for breakfast. Unless you’re traveling and you’re sharing a cool dish or restaurant or you made something amazing in your kitchen.
While it’s called social media, it’s also a place for sharing: ideas, recommendations, feelings, and life transitions. If you are building a platform for yourself—to sell books or get a job—the best thing you can do to get traction is to add value. Give people who you are connected to something: share a great article, give advice and recommendations. If you’re self-serving and constantly posting “look at me, I’m so great” posts then you’re not that interesting. Or else you’re causing major FOMO posting about your amazing life (Fear Of Missing Out) among your network.
We are moving beyond transactions to a world based on relationships. If all you want are likes and lots of followers then you’re focused on a short-term fix. If you want to engage people, build a following. Stand for something. Have 2 way conversations. Respond when people comment on your posts and comment on other people’s posts. Have actual conversations. People want to know the real you (even if you use photo filters). Putting yourself out there with your quirks and a dash of humor make you multi dimensional. It gives people more reasons to connect with you.
People do business with people they like. We’ve all heard that before. Social networks give you unparalleled access to a world without borders. It’s not an adjunct to your life but rather should be part of your life. My sister put it this way: you never had a phone strategy or an email strategy so why does everyone feel like they need a social media strategy? It shouldn’t be seen as some foreign, scary activity but rather as an integral part of our 21st century life. You control what you share and how often. You do it because you want interaction, sometimes feedback, and shared experiences.
Last fall, I took my mom to Israel to celebrate her 80th birthday. I had not been there in 20+ years and was amazed by all the changes. I decided to post highlights of our trip, not to boast but to share the beautiful places we visited and the amazing food we ate. It was great to connect in the moment with people I know who were sharing my experience. I stuck to Facebook and Instagram because there was no business involved. Yet, since I’m connected to many of my business contacts on these platforms, they too were engaged on my vacation.
For those who say that social media is a “waste of time” or that it’s ruining real world experiences, I disagree. I didn’t slow down or stop enjoying the moments. I snapped a few photos and shared them. 5 minutes tops.
Bottom line. If you want to use social media to create a platform for yourself, just do it. Find your voice. Tell your stories. Experiment. Remember, there’s always a delete button.
Most of all have fun. Otherwise, you’re missing the point.