When you think about working day in and day out in the social landscape, it seems like a no-man’s land for anyone who is shy and reserved. At first glance, social media can easily seem like a place where the bold and loud thrive in massive following numbers and less likely to reap the same success for anyone who is even slightly hesitant to send a tweet.
I am a social media manager who has, according to my Myers-Briggs personality test, been classified as an introvert. But can a social media manager afford to be an introvert? Does it ultimately cost them their job title to be more quiet than boisterous, or worse, make the employer question why they should even work in this field if they’re not actively on at all times? The answer here is yes, you can take charge in a social role and still be an introvert – and it may be much better for you than being an extrovert too.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t have ideas.
In an interview with The Washington Post, author Susan Cain remarked on a theory of “the new groupthink.” Groupthink is when a gathering of a group of people may cause irrational decisions to be made in the heat of the moment in order to ensure that the individual making them is just as like-minded as everyone else there. Groupthink pushes for harmony at all costs and fears rocking the boat with a different viewpoint, lest you be criticized for it or judged. The new groupthink does a similar thing, according to Cain, where meetings are called to come up with new ideas as ideas are said to come from a gregarious place.
For introverts, however, meetings can easily become a place where you can be ignored if you don’t speak up quickly enough. If it’s a sudden unscheduled meeting especially, it can also be hard to convey your ideas out to a group in a way that they can easily understand. They might need some time to collect themselves before presenting. It doesn’t mean that they have nothing to contribute to the meeting, are disinterested, or aren’t paying attention. They just need to take a moment to themselves to collect their thoughts and regroup from there.
You’re getting stuff done.
I speak from experience on this; particularly where content creation is concerned which takes more time, research, editing, and concentration to work on than it looks like it does. There’s a common misconception, whether you’re introverted or extroverted, that all anyone in social media does is toss out a few tweets and blog posts and that’s the extent of their workday.
Not true. Maintaining the voice for any brand or organization means being dedicated to the role and much of that role is spent on editorial calendars, scheduling, and maintaining strong communication via email. I may not be expressing everything I have going on aloud, but my emails and to-do lists tell a completely different story. And it’s one filled with steady strikethroughs as each item gets crossed off. Keeping your nose to the grindstone isn’t something that should be frowned upon by anyone if you work in social – it will pay off, and pay off well, for you in a very short amount of time.
You can still play up to your natural communication strengths.
Communication means something different for everyone. For some, it’s good eye contact or a wave to greet someone. For others, it might just be an @ mention on Twitter or adding a coworker on LinkedIn. Working in social media still means that you need to keep your communication skills sharp and acknowledge everyone who works alongside you for the hard work they did, but you can also do it however feels most comfortable to you. Former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, Doug Conant, wrote 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes to the employees within the company for demonstrating extraordinary hard work and leaving behind a lasting impact on the brand itself. “If you want people to be highly engaged, you have to lead from in front.” Conant said.
At the end of the day, both introverts and extroverts alike are needed in the social sphere. Studies have been proven that extroverts do well with inspiring passive team members who introverts excel more so with motivated employees. Ultimately, a manager can still be an introvert who leads with a quiet force and by example. It’s at the heart of the Big Stick ideology Theodore Roosevelt created (“speak softly and carry a big stick”) and ensures that whether during a crisis or not, an introverted social media manager will see it through with ration and reason until the very end.