The Kids Are Alright: How to keep your children safe online

The Kids Are Alright: How to keep your children safe online

I spend a lot of time worrying about my children on social media, even though they don’t have accounts.  Unfortunately for them, the work I do makes that less likely for them, not more.

I’m a big fan of social media, and the power it has to inform, persuade and raise awareness.  However I’m acutely aware of its downsides, particularly where children and young people are concerned.

I know every generation must say this, but it just seems to radically different to our own childhoods, where we could go for days without hearing from our friends and often that involved their Dad answering the phone first.  The nearest we got to inappropriate content was that Judy Blume book and looking up rude words in the dictionary.

First the good stuff.  The internet is a great thing for children. They have a world of knowledge at their finger tips, they can discover any information about any subject on earth.  The only limitation is their imagination.  Sadly they seem to spend it all looking at videos of people playing video games and opening boxes but hey – who am I to argue.

It also allows them to keep in touch with friends in a way not possible before.  That feeling of connection is important and shouldn’t be overestimated – even if it can’t replace actual human contact.

Social Media isn’t going away.  I still meet people who don’t use Facebook, or have no idea what Instagram is.  You don’t need to be a complete master or use it all the time – but you need to have a basic understanding of what they all do.  If you’re going to teach your children to look after themselves in the world, then you had better learn what that world is.  This is not the Wild West, this is their reality and it should be yours.

Hopefully your children feel that they can talk to you about things that bother them, but you do need to have at least a vague idea of what they’re talking about if they do.

You teach your children to ride a bike, eat in restaurants, road safety – so why on earth would you leave them to work this out on their own.

I see three main issues with kids online, and it’s worth discussing each one.

  • Safety
  • Bullying
  • Anxiety and self-esteem


This is the major worry for most parents, although not necessarily the biggest real danger.  However, make sure your children are aware how to keep themselves safe. Online grooming is terrifying and I don’t want to complacently say that it could never happen in my family, but the more aware everyone is, the safer everyone will be.

First rule, for goodness sake obey the age restrictions.

Action For Children have produced this handy guide.

Action for Children Safer Internet Day


I know so many children who have Instagram Accounts, Facebook and Snapchat accounts when they shouldn’t.  The age restrictions are there for a reason.  Even if some of their friends have them, don’t feel that they all do.  They don’t.  Certainly don’t let your children have accounts if you don’t know how they work.

I mean I know I used to get served in a pub from an early age but hypocrisy serves me well here.

My children are under 13 so don’t have any social media accounts, but that doesn’t mean I can rest easy.

My eldest son has an ipad, which includes imessenger and he has an email account. we have a laptop, they watch Youtube and play on the X Box.  I should confess that my son thinks he has his own Youtube channel but actually it’s mine.

The internet contains a world of unsuitable content – so make sure you have set up your parental controls directly from your router.  We have BT Internet and their filters are good – although we came a cropper a while ago when I found my son had looked up what something meant far sooner than I thought he should!  However we have also set filters on Youtube and the Xbox.  Make sure you know how to do this, because you do need to!

Our rules are

  • Ipads and laptops can only be used downstairs in family rooms.
  • If you don’t know what something means, ask. Don’t google!
  • I will check your internet history and will know if it’s been cleared, that you’ve looked at something you shouldn’t.
  • Don’t befriend anyone you don’t know, and you can make sure that it’s definitely them.
  • Don’t share personal information
  • If something doesn’t feel right, then ask.
  • Know how privacy settings work and how to block people


When they are older, I will set their accounts up and set their privacy settings for them.  I also want to know their passwords.  That doesn’t mean I will read their messages or abuse that trust though.

  • Bullying

For me, this is a bigger concern than grooming.  Both my child being bullied and being the bully.  Again, you teach them to behave in restaurants and talk to grown ups, teach them how to behave online. When we were younger, if there was bullying it tended to be contained either in school, or the journey home.  Today, there is often no escape for them.


At the moment, our discussions are

  • Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be happy everyone reading.
  • Be careful about who you allow into group messages and who you don’t. Excluding people can be hurtful.
  • Don’t send pictures of yourself, or ask people to send pictures to you that you either aren’t happy with or would mind your headmaster seeing. CLOTHES PLEASE!
  • Be kind to everyone as if they were in front of you.
  • Be respectful

Self-esteem and anxiety

Which brings me to the last issue. I can’t fathom how you begin to grow up in a world where you can document your every move, where all your mistakes are registered for eternity and you get to see and edited version of everyone else’s life.

There is no surprise that anxiety and mental health issues among young people are increasing.  The fear of missing out (that’s FOMO to you and me) along with a warped view of reality and the increased pressure to be fabulous all contribute and you need to offset it somehow.

I don’t have answers for this one – but you can do your best.

  • Tell your children that life isn’t perfect. Show them how photoshopping works, talk to them about how noone’s life is all that it is cracked up to be.
  • Encourage them to take photographs of other interesting things. I’ve already told my son that when he’s 13, he can only have an Instagram account if he promises that the majority of photos will not be of himself.
  • TURN IT OFF. I’m a fine one to talk, but encourage them to know that you don’t have to answer every message.  You can put it down and that the world won’t end if you do something else for a while.
  • Have actual friends. Social Media is great for staying connected but it doesn’t replace face to face contact – encourage your children to leave the house or have friends over as often as possible.

Also, think about your own social media use.  Your children are not there as content.  By all means share their triumphs, your love and your pride, but don’t post content that could embarrass them – even if they were only three at the time.  Teenagers are embarrassed about EVERYTHING, and normally embarrassing photos are reserved for the best man’s speech.

After all that, really the only way to keep your children safe is to educate yourself up and talk to them, and make them feel that they can talk to you.  You can’t protect them from it, so you may as well hop on board.

If you are still a little clueless, then ask me about my parenting sessions.  In them we go through all the social media sites, how they work, what they do, what your children think they do, and how to make them as safe as possible.





3 steps to drown out the noise on Twitter

3 steps to drown out the noise on Twitter

Do you struggle to keep up with Twitter, or anything more than the last 15 minutes of your timeline?  This is one of the main concerns my clients bring me.

How many people should you follow?  It’s a fine balance between having a broad network and drowning in a sea of noisy and confusing posts.

If you are using your account for business, it’s especially important to make sure you don’t miss the good bits.

These 3 simple housekeeping tips allow you to focus on the information you need, and silence those people you don’t want to hear from right now.

So here, allow me to make your life easier.

1.  Lists

Nestling next to your likes, Lists allows you to file relevant Tweeters into carefully orchestrated and beautifully ordered lists.

You can have as many as you like, and you can choose to make these public or private.   I make most of my lists private as I don’t want to make it easy for my competitors!  They include

Social Media Experts/News, Local Business, Networking groups, Clients, Target clients

I can then select any of these lists and see only the tweets by these people.


2.  Turn on Notifications

If someone is extra special and you never want to miss a tweet from them, then simply turn on mobile notifications.  A notification will then pop up on your mobile home screen whenever they send a tweet, whether you are in Twitter or not.

N.B.  This is useful for close contacts who don’t tweet very often.  Not so good for those who are at it constantly.

3.  Turn off Retweets

Now I’ll be the first to admit, this is not really in the spirit of Twitter but, sometimes, needs must.  If you don’t want to unfollow someone, for whatever reason, but they appear to have retweeting diarrhoea (you know who you are) then a subtle turning off of their retweets should quieten things down and they’ll never know.  This is particularly useful for those contacts who take part in every networking hour going.

So there you have it, bringing ruthless efficiency and calm to the chaos of Twitter.

You’re welcome.

Your Social Media Stinks – A Skinnypigs case study

Your Social Media Stinks – A Skinnypigs case study

Now I don’t make a habit of criticising other companies’ marketing output, unless its a global brand and they should know better.  Part of it is my one woman quest to make social media a kinder place.  Partly is the awareness that we’re all just doing our best, and largely making it up as we go along so there’s no need to publicly shame people for their mistakes. This morning though, my hackles were hoiked so high I consider this more therapy than a public service – but maybe it’s both.

(On the upside, it involved being called a Feminazi which always makes my day.  You know those sales teams that have a bell they can ring whenever they land a contract – that’s me.)

I bang on repeatedly about knowing your market and speaking directly to them.  I also emphasise your social media being your authentic voice, about it representing your values and beliefs and showing your customers who you really are.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you Skinnypigs, a fitness company in the North East.

Now I’ll set my stall out here.  I don’t know them, I’ve never had any dealings with them, they are hundreds of miles away so don’t know anyone who does. Their branding is strong, their website looks impressive and they seem to be very popular.  I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they have called themselves ‘skinnypigs’ with a degree of tongue in cheek humour, and had probably already dismissed ‘fatf$&kers’ as an idea.  I’m also assuming they are probably not avid readers of Susie Orbach.  They could be the greatest company in the world to the people that are their actual customers.  I only know what they show online.

The story starts with a local poster campaign that they were running outside schools, presumably to target the ‘Mums who want to shed a few pounds’ market.  We’ve all been there.

I also would be the first to do the trolls jobs for them.  I’m not exactly Kate Moss but luckily have the marvellous encouragement from Dan & Rhys at New Leaf Fitness to encourage me to their classes on a (would love to say) regular basis in an effort to get me to look and feel better, with or without trousers.  I’m not one of nature’s athletes but I give it a good go.

Anyway, I digress.

Someone complained to them that they found the ad offensive, primarily because it was posted outside a school where children would be able to read it or at least understand the pictures.  It’s not that obesity is an aspiration, or that a healthy lifestyle isn’t to be encouraged – it certainly is.  It’s promoting a message specifically aimed at girls (and by default boys about girls) that the main aim here is what you look like with no clothes on.  Never mind your health, fitness, mental wellbeing etc, nope, just the naked flesh.  With levels of depression, anxiety, eating disorders (and obesity for that matter) rising amongst children at record rates, it was misguided at best and irresponsible at worst.  And I mean, dear God, children aside, there is enough body shaming going on without the people who are supposed to help you getting in on the act. You don’t have to be Naomi Wolf to see her point.  Maybe they only want the super confident ones who are mainly concerned with their own looks.  Maybe they only want the ones with such low self esteem that they’ll buy their meal replacement shakes whatever the cost. Maybe they just don’t care.

I have no idea how long this ad has run without complaint.  I have no idea how many people know the brand and understand the nuances of their message or their particular brand of humour.  However, the actual ad is not the issue.

There was a moment on Twitter, after the woman who had objected post the ad, for a discussion.  There was a moment when they could have talked about whether the humour justified the outrage, or that they had listened to her concerns and would look again at the placement of the ads.  Or a respectful, ‘that’s not what we are about, please find out more about us before you judge us’  Personally I still think the issue would have remained but it would at least have been civilised.  They could have agreed to disagree.

This is not what happened.

This is what happened.  Actually I can’t post all of the tweets so here are just a few highlights.  These are screen grabs as some of them may yet disappear.

Screen grab skinnypigs

So, accusing your critics of being stupid.  Classy.


Screenshot skinnypigs feminazi.

There’s the ‘Feminazi klaxon’  10 points.

and it goes on.

I could keep going but I won’t – oh go on then!  If you insist!

Lovely use of the word pussy there, but then again I do love a Maverick.  He also refers to having balls later on, just to be clear.

Different pussies I’m assuming.

He’s keen to state that he ‘loves women’ apparently and employs loads of them – ergo he must be feminist.  Case closed.

However, he then got a bit fed up and said people were trying to ruin his business and bring a great man down.  I think you’re doing that all by yourself love.

Some people did defend him – although I’m not sure these really are his core market.


What one earth was he thinking?  Now it’s clearly a successful business and many clients (well a few) have come to his defence, which he has been retweeting like a demon.  However, this has nothing to do with how effective his classes are in making your arse smaller.  This is everything to do with how he views and treats ALL women, and anyone who disagrees with him for that matter.  You certainly wouldn’t be confident that he would treat you with respect if you ever had a complaint or issue in person.  He’s hardly likely to be willing to listen to feedback and respond accordingly.

I think Salome put it best.

I’m sure, for all the people screaming PC Brigade, there are an equal if not larger number of clients cringing with embarrassment, and dedicated class trainers furious that he doesn’t speak for them.

Now I would love to discuss this with him in person but when I tried he blocked me so, sorry no can do.  I’d be more than happy to give him the following advice though.

  • Humour is humour if it’s funny.  If someone doesn’t find it funny, that’s OK, they are probably not the client for you.  However smile, apologise and move on.
  • Don’t throw personal insults at people, even if they are not your clients.  How you treat your critics says more about the kind of person you are than how you treat your supporters.
  • Listen to your critics.  You might learn something.
  • If you want to grow your business, alienating and insulting people who aren’t yet your clients and showing a complete disregard for their opinions is not going to help.
  • There’s no use just retweeting people who say nice things whilst still abusing the people who are challenging you.  I mean, you can do that, some people have made a living out of ittrump

But maybe I’ve got this all wrong.  Maybe this is just a massive publicity stunt – I mean, I’ve spent the last hour writing this and I can’t remember the last business I did that for.  Maybe there really is no such thing as bad publicity after all.  Haters gonna Hate and all that.

I like to think not.

I don’t think he will change his views, or his mind, and I hope his clients find that he has slightly more respect from him that it would appear.  If that’s how he treats a stranger, that’s how he’s more than likely to treat you.

But it’s not big, and it’s not clever.  Enough with the rude, obnoxious people who think that just because they employ and sell to women they automatically represent them. Enough with the people who think free speech gives you free reign to say what you like and no one is allowed to mind.

I wave my feminazi flag with pride in your face.

What do you think?  Do you think this exposure will have benefited or harmed his business?  Would I have been better to spend the last half hour doing bench presses?  I would love to know your thoughts

How often should I post on Twitter? Combating Tweet Inflation

How often should I post on Twitter? Combating Tweet Inflation

The question I’m guaranteed to be asked in every training session is “How often should I post on Twitter?” I then wave my arms around and make some reference to string.

The fact of the matter is, obviously there is no right answer, and everything depends on what it is you are posting and who you are posting too.  It also touches a nerve with me because I feel torn between what I ‘should’ say and what I actually think.

In the 4 years I’ve been running Armadillo Social, I’ve noticed a massive increase in what I would call ‘Tweet inflation’, with companies posting more and more tweets as the months go by, and wondering why less and less people are seeing them.

I blame myself.  The rise of tools like Buffer and, even more convenient for volume Tweets Edgar, have made it easy to phone it in.  You can set up 50 tweets in a few minutes, all promoting the same thing if you really want to.

In my first workshop I declared people should aim for about 3 tweets a day.  Last week I heard a social media ‘expert’ say that companies should be aiming for about 20 to 25!


I’ll admit it’s tempting, and it goes a little something like this….

Your followers are following an awful lot of people, so their timeline is pretty clogged.  Tweets are coming thick and fast, so someone is only likely to bother to scroll down that last 20 minutes or so, if that.  But you posted that link to you blog over six hours ago!  Only 120 people saw it.  You’d best post it again.  The trouble is – everyone else is having the same idea, only their going for every five hours, so you’d best aim for every 4.  And so it continues.

Before you know it, your twitter timeline is like a cheap shopping channel, full in promotion after promotion with very little meaningful content in between.  This is why you are not allowed nice things.

If you ask me, this is why Twitter is faltering, and this is why people are wandering off, or never really get the hang of it.

Twitter is by far my favourite platform of choice, but then I use it for more than just marketing. I use Twitter to discuss ideas, politics, causes, things I’m passionate about and the odd joke about Ed Sheeran. I go to Twitter when I want company, or a laugh, or to find out something new – not to hear about your latest special offer.

This is how the people who love Twitter, use Twitter.  The rest are just junk mail leaflets on the floor.

“But you’re supposed to be in marketing! What shall we do?”, I hear you cry.

Now I know people will come along and say ‘but this is business and it works’.  Well it might do, but then again it might not, and it doesn’t make it big or clever! Take some time over the summer to really think about what you are trying to achieve and take a long hard look at whether your tweets are actually doing that.

Here’s my summer Twitter challenge for you.

–     Of course, you need to promote yourself to some degree, but try and make about 1 in 10 tweets actually about something that you sell (I’m including replies in this).  Other things you could tweet about include

someone you’ve met

something interesting you’ve read

a news story you have something to say about

something you are proud of

  • Enough of the scheduled posts. If you’re going away, go away.  We’ll all still be here when you get back but at least you’ll be there to actually talk to us. (SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT: although don’t tell Twitter you’re going away, particularly if you work from home)
  • Clear out your followers. I need to practice what I preach here but have a good, ruthless clear out.  It’s easy, especially if you take part in lots of networking hours, to follow lots of accounts you don’t really care for. Go down your timeline and unfollow anyone you have no real interest in, don’t want to connect with or are just random.
  • Make some Twitter lists. Search out people you are genuinely interested in and create some Twitter lists so you can read their tweets easily.  Maybe a list of people who post interesting things to read, or people who are good to chat to.
  • Talk to some people. Actually read your timeline and find someone to interact with to build some real relationships.  These could be individual conversations, or finding tweets that you can share and add your own insight to.

If we can all join in, together, maybe we can make Twitter a happier place.

If you need some help with honing your digital strategy, then book yourself in for some training.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Who do you think you are talking to?

Who do you think you are talking to?

How to identify your target market

The wonderful thing about digital marketing is that now, the world is your oyster.  You can talk to anyone on the planet who has a Twitter account, and sell your goods and services to anyone you like, whatever your target market.

This can also be bewildering.

The first question I always ask my clients is “Who’s your ideal customer?”  All too often the answer is ‘anyone’.  This is ultimately an unhelpful place to start. Like an enthusiastic toddler in their first game of tig, if you try chasing everyone at the same time, you’ll end up with no one.

You need to pick your target market – and focusing on a handful of people will help you to define your messaging.

This needs to be at the forefront of your marketing and don’t think of attempting to design your website, branding or take to social media before you’ve done it.  Once you know your target market, your activity then becomes a doddle.  You know exactly who you are talking to and what they want to hear.

If you don’t, then you try to please so many people, your message ends up as bland and indistinctive.

Every business is looking for a person who

  1. Has the same worldview
  2. Has a problem you can solve
  3. Has the time and money to give

Once you’ve found them, they then need to

  1. Be engaged with your product
  2. Understand and appreciate what results you can bring

Starting with number one

Is it really that important that your target market has the same world view?

Well you’re not asking them to marry you, so arguably it doesn’t matter that much.  Depending on the strength of your convictions, you may not turn business away because of it because they’re not really your sort.

However, there’s no denying that these people will be your easiest customers to find, convert and are most likely to become your champions. These are the people your marketing needs to be aimed at – the rest may follow along regardless.

Simon Sinek

The easiest customers to reach are those you have the most in common with.  You know in person when you just click with someone, the conversation flows and you know exactly what the other means.

The first rule of  social media is to be authentic, honest and as natural as possible.  Your ideal client will like you for it or, as I said recently to a client “they’re going to work out they don’t like you when they meet you so save yourself the bother”

However there needs to be a Venn Diagram in there somewhere of what is you, what is your client, and what you have in common.  If you can try sticking to the common ground, you’ll be quids in.

Some of my favourite brands make me feel like I’m one of the gang – that we would get on if we actually met.  Similarly, I’ve made some great relationships through social media months (and even years) before I meet them in person.


Start with your fantasy client and pick one very specific client at a time.  Build a full and proper picture of them – not just their job title.

Maybe consider it more like dating.  Age, gender, location are all vital factors, but then define even further on your key attributes and characteristics.

We may as well be sitting on the sofa next to you.

We may as well be sitting on the sofa next to you.

What do they care about? This does not mean that you have to nail your political colours to the mast (even if you have them) but it does mean that you need to work out where their sensibilities are likely to be.

  • Are they concerned about the environment?
  • Are animal rights likely to be important or not a factor?
  • Are there any particular social causes and campaigns they are likely to be interested in?

I find I can judge a company instantly on their choice of quotes on social media.  If they sound like a reject from The Apprentice, then they are probably not for me.

  • What are their hobbies likely to be?  Are they outdoorsy, interested food, culture, sport, fashion
  • What style of images would they most respond to?
  • What TV programmes are they likely to watch?  What music?
  • What are they likely to find funny?

What do they drink?  What supermarket do they shop in? Where are they likely to go on holiday? What brands to they buy? Do they care who wins X Factor?

They might sound like irrelevant questions, but it’s a really useful exercise to build your target market profile.  If you want to really have some fun, find some pictures to go along with it.

Just putting it out there as an example of what your dream client might look like ….


“But I thought I was supposed to be being myself, not pleasing others!”

Be Your Own Beyonce

Once you have given this some thought, your social media ‘voice’ becomes easy to find.  Put yourself in Beyonce’s shoes and you can craft an online identity which is authentic and honest but also perfectly reflects the brand that you are trying to create, rather than a warts and all profile.

You don’t need to start talking about yourself in the third person, but think carefully about which parts of your brand are for public consumption – and which ones aren’t. For example, I am a fairly vocal political sort, but I try to tone it down on my professional accounts. I will share some things, often with a social media slant, but I don’t use it as a soapbox.  I have a separate Twitter account for shouting at Question Time.

It’s about values rather than partisan issues.  I’m quite happy to tweet about Hillary Clinton because I don’t really want to work for anybody who would consider themselves a Donald Trump supporter.  I’m more than happy for them not to pick up the phone.

But here’s some rules to bear in mind

  • Sometimes it’s a matter of volume.  The odd tweet so I know that you like football and support West Ham, but a running commentary of the game, no thank you.
  • No oversharing. By all means give me an insight into your private life, so I can understand a little more about you but think ‘Hello centre spread’, rather than a tabloid expose or radio phone in rant.
  • Remember that social media posts never really go away. A full and frank Facebook post might be cathartic but is it really what your brand wants to say?
  • Friendly and approachable does not always mean ‘cutesy’.  If you’re not that sort of brand, don’t feel you have to be just because it’s social media.
  • Don’t be mean or offensive.  I shouldn’t have to say any more

Hopefully, you now have a clear idea of your head of the people you need to reach.  In future blog posts, I’ll cover more on how to track them down and build relationships.

What criteria do you use to decide who your ideal customer might be? Biscuits? Favourite Friends character?  Let us know in the comments below.

In the meantime if you’d like some help with defining your target marketing and branding, then get in touch for a consultation.


The Introverts’ Guide to Social Media

The Introverts’ Guide to Social Media

Hillary and the social media generationLast 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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”

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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!