Recently, we looked at the nature of social media that relates closely to empathy, our ability to understand what another person is experiencing. We should also take note of a related perspective, in which social media is understood as primarily social – as opposed to personal, political, or spiritual.
From one viewpoint, online branding is about sharing the true self. On the web, we are turned off by the corporate presentation. We prefer content that shares real-person voices. We seek the human heartbeat, the personality. Web pages that are generic or coldly corporate miss the point.
But, and this is a major caveat, that does not mean sharing your whole self. It means sharing your social self. Big difference.
Authenticity online means expressing your honest friendliness. But it does not mean expressing your inevitable negative moods or gripes. Try posting nothing but angry updates and see how fast you lose followers.
In social media marketing, you’re constrained to present only limited aspects of your personality – those which are most attractive. Does that mean the web profile we have is hypocritical?
Or are we being creative? Does the new technology lead us to discover new heights of possibility?
A close friend was recently dragged, at long last, screaming and kicking, into Facebook. Once there, she set up her profile for only a limited number of people to see. Extremely limited. Her kids have access, and that’s it. And no profile picture.
Sigh. Such a response to social media’s invitation to share shoots its own foot.
But then my friend is the sort who metes out her comments like favors to her intimates. ‘You get to know this;’ ‘he knows this, doesn’t know that;’ ‘please don’t tell anyone, but … ‘
She chooses to spend her time balancing social accounts.
She’s fearful of invasion, theft, voyeurism. She allows such threats to dominate her choices and actions. Facebook’s advancing predilection for stripping away our privacy represents sheer terror to her.
Thing is, if you asked her to dissect her fears I’d bet she’d see there’s nothing there. My friend is mature and smart: she’d get past her conditioning if she ever seriously thought about it.
Defensive living, like being afraid, or bean-counting your interactions with other sentient beings is not at all what online social networking is about. Social media assumes openness and sharing.
Social media is founded in generosity.
You may have heard the observation that the web’s divided between content-producers, commenters, and lurkers. Relatively few people want to spend any of their time producing content; not many are willing even to compose a comment.
Therefore, although inbound marketing and social media are key strategies for every business, it is not to be assumed that the business owner is the Voice of their online presence.
If you run a business but don’t wish to be a content producer for the internet, what are your choices? I’ll offer just a few basic solutions here.
- Get a digital voice recorder and talk into it. Let your virtual assistant transcribe and upload.
- Identify someone in your company who can be trusted to take on the role.
- Organize your company so that all workers share in the demands of online responsiveness.
- Work with a social media assistant who can help you devise the best solutions for your specific situation.
Generous sharing of knowledge is what you are doing online, demonstrating sufficient personal investment to win your visitors’ trust.
Your internet Voice has to be real and honest, but it does not have to be your own Voice or nothing.
Social media gurus make a big deal about being authentic, as the best way to create your most effective online presence.
Many stand firmly behind the notion that all updates must be your own expressions, that anything ghost- or staff-written on the internet is bogus.
The relative raw immediacy of social media may be one reason why people want online exchanges to be transparent. Relationships formed online are vulnerable to suspicion and mistrust. You have to overdo it in the transparency department if you’re going to be believed.
But if we relegate the web only to those who are capable of regularly expressing themselves there, it won’t be of much use. The internet is truly for everyone; businesses of all kinds have to be able to use it profitably. It’s not just for coaches and authors and marketers: it’s not only for language-oriented types.
So the voice of your business online becomes a critical question. If it is not to be your voice, whose voice can it authentically, transparently, and powerfully be? Next post, we’ll look at some possibilities.