It’s no secret that social media, in all its interactive, transparent, and real-time glory, has changed consumer behavior and expectations. The lines between personal and professional blurred long ago but do you really have to open the world to your personal life on social media to be successful? And if so, how much is enough, especially for those of us who enjoy our privacy. In this article we explore your personal life on social media, where to draw the line and we give you a 4 step list to help you navigate this question as you develop your online brand.
So where exactly is the balance between authentic transparency and TMI? Martin Shervinton, marketing extraordinaire and founder of Plus Your Business explains “I like to surf, I like to do standup comedy – when I share this, it helps people to relate to me more. It helps people feel part of my story when they appear in it too. It is all part of a natural brand that just ‘happens’.” That said, he also gets the perspective of maintaining a private life too.
In our recent interview with Martin, he gave us four steps to figuring out how you can be personal and authentic when developing your brand online. We expand on his main points:
1) Start with your strategy (your Why).
Your “why” defines you. It is why you do what you do. It also defines your audience, the people that care about your “why.” When you have a shared “why” people can better identify with you and connect with what you’re doing.
Your “why” doesn’t need to be overly charitable or grandiose. It’s your motivator, stated simply. You’re the local business that wants to be profitable AND give back to the community. Or, you’re the female engineer that wants to build the next killer app and set an example for young girls interested in computer science. What is it that drives you? Start there.
2) Build content to be an authority for your Why
Once you’ve identified your “why,” Martin suggests to underpin it with tactics of 50 blog posts / 50 videos to build you as an authority on the subject. Share content that will help people identify and connect with you based on your “why.”
The content can be any number of things – video of you in action at work, stories from the field, or “how to” blog posts. For local businesses, it could be commentary on what’s happening in the surrounding neighborhoods and how local people are making a difference. For the engineer, maybe it’s a series of “behind the scenes” tweets during her latest sprint.
Whichever you choose, focus and do it well. The goal is to tie back to your “why” so people can identify and connect with you while you showcase your expertise in order to build authority on your subject.
3) Pick your channels and circle
Along the way, choose 2 or 3 channels. In those channels, look to connect with the people who you would love to “be in the room with in real life,” advises Martin. An easy way to do this is choose some social networks you’re already comfortable and familiar with (perhaps Facebook, Twitter and ConvoLounge of course!). Then follow and reach out to folks that YOU are interested in, people that share your common “why.” It can be as simple as adding your knowledge / expertise to a current conversation thread. As people start to learn more about you (by interacting with you, and checking out those posts / videos) they will see how much you have in common (your shared “why”) and you can build genuine relationships online.
So far you’ve haven’t shared anything too revealing or things that you may prefer be kept in the private zone. You defined your “why,” developed good content on your “why,” you connected with people that have the same “why” and only shared things related to your “why.” You have in fact shared personal information (since your “why” is incredibly important and meaningful to you) yet you have not crossed the line into TMI territory. You’ve been personal while still being professional. And the internet thanks you for sparing us endless selfies, meal pics, beach pics, etc.
4) You draw the line between private and personal life on social media
Are you okay with sharing photos of your kids? Or does that bring up privacy issues for your family? (Something we discuss A LOT at my home.) Are you comfortable sharing what music you’re listening to? That’s personal and something people can connect on too. Martin shared what he was listening to throughout our Q&A session and it was fun for everyone to chime in about the song choices. Those kind of things are a good way to show personality without going to deep.
Where to draw the line is really up to you. There are different levels of being public. Find your happy place.
Bottom line? As Martin explains, “We are all part of people’s lives now and there has been a definite ‘coming down of walls’ in social.” That said, finding what works for you is part of being authentic.
Now go share something.