I was asked something recently that struck a chord: Do you find it hard to balance professional and personal content on twitter?
My answer was simple:
At first it was awkward, but in time it became second nature.
When it comes to social media — and your entire online presence — it is ultimately better to show people who you are before ever trying to sell or recommend anything.
Trust is earned with vulnerability.
It requires a special kind of courage to be vulnerable online (you must have watched this TED talk). At first you might be afraid of being called (or perceived as) stupid or silly, but in my experience, the more authentic you are, the more deeply you connect to your audience.
So let’s explore all the ways you can achieve this online.
Show Your Personality on Social
There are many formulas out there, and they all say different things, so let me give you my formula for social media (well, twitter) success:
Out of 5 tweets:
- 2 are personal
- 2 are helpful to others
- 1 is a re-tweet that promotes you
Not what you expected? Let me break those down a bit:
- The personal tweets can be anything from what you’re doing right now to a conversation you had to a piece of advice to beginners in your field, etc. In fact, lately I have started to indulge in a lot of “how cool is this” tweets, which indirectly shows my personality by demonstrating my tastes in: products, TV shows, books, etc. My latest:
Not surprisingly, people engage with those more than all the RT’s I put out there (especially direct RT’s, which I do regularly because I’m lazy).
- The helpful tweets are pieces of content I’ve discovered that will benefit my followers. It’s like being a content curator, but on social. People really appreciate the time you took to bring their attention to something helpful for them. So don’t skip this step.
- At first people didn’t really spread the word about my services or products, so I had to tweet about them, but these days I just re-tweet others’ tweets of my articles because it’s a sort of social endorsement and it’s less guilt-ridden for me to do. :P
Now let’s do an exercise:
- Think of someone you admire on social.
- Search your mind to come up with personal details about this person.
- Check if the ones you know a lot about are socially influential.
The personal details don’t have to be where they live or whether or not they’re in a relationship. They’ll probably be: what kind of pet they have, what kind of conversational tone (in writing or speaking) they employ, is there something they particularly like or dislike, taste in TV shows, etc.
All of those glimpses into a person’s life do not really relate to their products or service, but they make the person human, and those are the people we buy from, time and again. If you did the exercise right, you probably found the pattern in question #3 — the more authentic these people are on social, the more influential they become. Like magic.
Show Your Personality on Your Blog
Let me tell you about the time I posted my panties on my blog. No, just kidding, I did post them on my blog, but I won’t talk about it.
Basically, whatever you do on social, do it on your blog as well. Simple.
I’ll give you a very bright example in my mind: Kristen Lamb's blog. If you go through every single post she’s ever written, you’ll see: humor, silliness, photos of herself, etc. The more you read, the more you’ll start to understand her, and by extension, her message: "we are not alone".
She’s — not accidentally — also a personal branding consultant because she has it down to a science, and if I had any extra money to give, I’d give it all to her, but for now I’m managing.
Here are some ideas you can borrow for your future blogs:
- Think about a struggle you’re going through at the moment and share how you’re dealing with it. Don’t try to sound smart or be an expert, just be honest about how it’s hard for you, and then share the progress you’ve made. Sometimes just sharing the struggle and results brings in people who have had the same struggle and who are grateful for your insights.
- Don’t be afraid to include your most embarrassing screenshots or tweets or whatever in your articles as examples. Obviously you wouldn’t do it to anyone else, so be brave and take front center. For example, I once shared the first ever landing page of my previous project and it’s BAD. But then I explained why it was bad and how I improved it.
- Don’t struggle to be all professional if it doesn’t come naturally. Just be yourself, write the way you talk, be human. You know, seeing as you’re talking to humans, I doubt they’ll mind it. I often get complimented on my conversational style.
- Use visuals. Even if you’re not a designer, don’t be afraid to to make really simple graphics or just illustrate your point with photos from your facebook stream. Seriously, I found the picture below on facebook and shared it on a blog. I'm the idiot on the right. :D
The more you reveal yourself to people, the more your material will resonate with your audience. Want to know about my most shared Medium article? It was about my reaction to the film Her. There were no tips there, no research, and nothing else but a naked human perspective on something that’s on a lot of minds and that is fast approaching.
Perhaps my next "naked human reaction" piece should be about drones, seeing as - like The Next Web conference put it - Europeans are a little worried about drones. Just imagine the memes! Goldmine.
Show Your Personality on Somewhere
I've been doing some research for Somewhere, on the way people talk about it. In my view, the way people talk about a product can direct the efforts of the team. For example, you can take the wording and make it into a compelling tagline or a CTA on a landing page. You can even map the whole user journey by positioning clever hooks based on the value that people get from your product or service.
And even though you have a semi-clear idea of what your Unique Value Proposition is and what people like about your product, sometimes it’s hard to put it in words, and language matters, especially when you’re trying to convince people to buy into an idea, like Somewhere.
Long story short, people were saying things like:
- Unlike any other networks I feel encouraged to share my work, achievements, and idiosyncrasies without fear of it being deemed self-promotional.
- It’s a great way to show a little of your personality.
- On Somewhere you don’t just display what you do, you display why you do it.
- When I want to work with someone I want to see their passion.
- ...showcasing an individual’s talent.
This tells me that the main value people get from Somewhere is the ability to show their personality on the platform in the context of “work”. And since the definition of work is expanded to passion projects and hobbies, people really tend to open up on Somewhere and show their creativity.
Below is a typical profile of a digital creative.
It's filled with personality. Somewhere was just meant to be a visual platform for sharing your work, but that is integrally connected to what you're like as a person. Things that give it away are: how messy your desk is, how you brainstorm, what kinds of tools you use, etc.
It's a tiny window into your soul.
But it's not just about showing your personality, it's about showing your creativity as well. Watching other creatives be creative inspires us in turn to unleash our own creativity. The same happens when we see those on twitter, on Pinterest, Instagram... we're inspired because we connect to what it feels like to be inspired. We all have creativity in us. And if you do, you must let it out and let it shine in everything you do online.
(Especially in this day and age where even employers in big companies have started looking for more creative candidates.)
If your thing is to knit, show me. If it's taking pet portraits, share them. I don't care whether you're a consultant or a startup founder or an indie author; all I care about is what drives you. And when I know what drives you, I'll be driven to connect with you. And once we're connected, then and only then can I do business with you. Humanity must always come first.
What about you? How do you show your personality online? Do you know of anyone who does it particularly well? Tell me. :)