Last week, there was a photo of Hillary Clinton, taken by Barbara Kinney, that was shared of 8,000 times on Twitter. It showed the crowd turning its back on her, so that they could all get a selfie while she was in shot. This made my blood run cold. It’s not that there’s anything inherently bad about this, more that it would never occur to me.
There was a recent article arguing that selfies, rather than a sign of narcissism, were a way of people saying hello to the world, as if they were standing in front of you, rather than beside you. This made me feel more kindly towards them, but only a little.
Which way they point their camera is yet another way to categorise people, in much the same way as people love to divide people into introvert/extravert bags. Personally, I’m either a very talkative introvert or a slightly miserable extravert – the jury’s out.
For those in the introvert camp, social media can seem a pointless place, and many people choose not to bother at all; they take one look at the headshots, self-promotion and the endless chatter and head for the hills.
However, if you prefer the quiet life, it can actually be a powerful weapon. Used wisely, it can do wonders for your business.
So here’s 8 reasons why social media is great for introverts, and some killer tips for making it work for you.
- You can be yourself, whatever your niche
The first rule of social media is to be yourself, which plays into your hands very nicely. If you don’t see why you should talk endlessly about yourself, don’t. If you don’t like selfies, don’t take them. You need to find your voice and stick to it. Not everyone is going to like it, but that’s OK, you don’t want to do business with them anyway. You don’t need to talk to the masses, start small and connect with people who you are genuinely interested in and want to engage with. Twitter in particular is perfect for finding like-minded individuals, rather than having to talk to the crowds. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sending 10 tweets a day; listen to others, take an interest and build up gradually with the people who matter to you.
- Everyone is the same font.
This sounds obvious but it’s true. We’ve all been in meetings where someone has dominated proceedings, or events where you can’t seem to get a word in edgeways. There will always be someone who shouts louder and has a firmer handshake, who can interrupt just that little more effortlessly. They might not be better qualified or more talented, they just make more noise. Social media is a great leveller. Short of PERMANENTLY USING CAPITAL LETTERS, no one can shout louder than anyone else, and everyone’s voice is given equal weight. You can take your time to join in without the ideal moment passing you by.
- You can plan what you want to say
It might look like social media is all off the cuff, spur of the moment stuff, but actually planning is key. If self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to you, stealing yourself to think about it in an orchestrated way can really help. Also drag someone else in to talk it through with. What would other people be interested in? How do they see you and does that match up with what you want. Then you can begin to tell your story in the way that you want. It doesn’t have to be all at once, but gradually over time. This gives you time to think about it, to amend, to reframe. Using a scheduling tool such as Buffer or Edgar allows you to map it all out and then review it, so you won’t be struck down with panic because you can’t think of anything to write.
- You can do your homework
In the same vein, it can also help you with your offline networking too. Meeting new people can be hard work, however experienced in business you are. If networking fills you with dread, social media is a great way to do a little research beforehand to make you feel more comfortable. Some might call it stalking but I like to call it ‘taking an interest’. Look people up on LinkedIn or Twitter, find out what they’re interested in, what their passions are and you’ll find conversation much more engaging and effortless than going in cold. “I read your article on Linked In” is a great ice-breaker or even “what did you think of Game of Thrones finale”
- You can have meaningful conversations
What I love most about social media, and Twitter in particular, is that it is very easy to get to the nub of something quickly. Yes there’s lots of high fiving and shouting out and name checking this that and the other, but actually it’s incredibly easy to talk about the things that you want to, without the small talk. Track down the #hashtags of things you are passionate about, causes you care about and have expertise in, and begin to talk about those issues with the people who care about them. I have great conversations on Twitter, not just about social media but politics, protests, issues, passions and ridiculously poor jokes.
- Set yourself some boundaries
I spend my life on social media but I have rules which I stick to. I think this is important to not only preserve a sense of self, but also respect your privacy and that of those around you. So
- I don’t identify my children on Twitter by name. There might be the odd photo but these are few and far between.
- I am not ‘friends’ with clients or business contacts on Facebook
- I don’t feel the need to be visible or trumpeting my whereabouts all of the time. A lot of the time I’m watching and listening. Think more tiger than elephant.
- I take regular breaks from social media all together. I don’t use it holiday, I have regular periods when I just need to walk away. That’s fine – everyone is still there.
- You don’t have to leave the house
This is not carte blanche to turn into Howard Hughes, and I do recommend getting out of your pyjamas, but actually digital marketing allows you to keep up with contacts, and what’s going on in the industry without having to be the life and soul of the networking party. It won’t do all the time, obviously. You do have to get out there now and again, and nothing beats face to face interaction; however a little judicious planning on social media allows you to be far more selective about who you spend your time with. You never know, you might even progress to Skype (even WITH the video on)
So there you have it, marketing yourself on social media doesn’t have to be one big Donald Trump rally. Obviously if it really leaves you cold, you can outsource it completely, but there is a danger that you lose some authenticity along the way.
If you’d like some help, I offer (in person) one-to-one training, consultation and support services which will set you on the right path, as well as open workshops should you be feeling in a sociable mood!