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Fact or Fiction? You Must Be an Extrovert to Succeed in Social Media

Your personality impacts the way you respond to different situations throughout your day. You may get nervous around new people, find yourself irritated when a task isn’t completed appropriately, or become extremely lonely after a few hours alone. These responses can be emotions, thoughts, or behaviour and are often categorized under 5 personality traits (known as the Big 5):

  1. Extraversion
  2. Agreeableness
  3. Conscientiousness
  4. Neuroticism
  5. Openness

Our personality is so deeply rooted in us that it remains the same across all situations. Because of this, it’s extremely important to find a job that fits with your personality. Do you know your personality traits? You should. Here’s a great test to get you started from good ol’ Dr. Phil.

Why can’t we just "fake it ‘til we make it"?

Sure, you can fake a different personality and pretend to be someone you’re not, but at the end of the day, you’ll only end up hurting yourself. Doing a job for 8+ hours a day, day in and day out, that goes contrary to your personality will not only affect your performance on the job, but can also be detrimental to your well-being. Susan Cains, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts”, says it best:

“introversion and extroversion are at the heart of human nature. And when you make life choices that are congruent with your temperament, you unleash vast stores of energy. … when you spend too much time battling your own nature … you deplete yourself.”

So it’s important to (a) understand your own personality and (b) look for a job that suits you.

What personality drives success social media?

Working as a community or social media manager has you starting conversations all day long, seeking social interaction, and sharing updates. You’re a social media manager; a textbook extrovert. If you’re an introvert at heart, you’re just not going to flourish here, right? (Don’t know if you’re more introverted or extroverted? Take Susan Cain’s quiz here.) Just look at these common characteristics of social media managers compared to your typical extrovert and introvert:
Social media manager characteristics

Easy. Peasy. It’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that extroversion is the desired trait over introversion for being a social media manager.

Shoot. You’re an introvert you say? Well, unfortunately, it seems like you’re just a kitten playing with the heavyweights. Essentially, you’re doomed. Start your career shift now; this one is for the loud and boisterous.

Or is it?

Putting aside the fact that the line between extroversion and introversion is about as clear as your vision on a Friday night (in fact, it’s really more of a spectrum), there are many attributes of a textbook introvert that would, in fact, make them an excellent social media or community manager.

Introverts in social media

* consider causes here.

And the ones listed above in the first chart aren’t necessarily make or break, either. Many of these introverted characteristics can work well in a social media setting – personal happiness dependent less on social proof, developing great one-on-one relationship with community members, or ensuring shared content is of high value and not simply for the purpose of being in the spotlight.

So it turns out, even though the title and job description of the average social media manager leads us to believe you must be a social butterfly (and wrongly assume that introverts are out of the equation) introverts may flourish in this position after all.

Myth busted.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Which of your introversion or extroversion qualities help you to be a better social media or community manager?

Photo by Kathryn Cairney, on Flickr

Join The Conversation

  • Feb 25 Posted 3 years ago RedSofaMultiMedia

    Thank you for this article. Time to clarify our role (introverts) in the social media industry!

  • Nov 12 Posted 3 years ago Justin McAdow

    This is such an interesting article and topic. My friends are often confused when I tell them I work in social media. This is because I am an introvert. My girlfriend claims I am "anti-social on social media, of course referring to my personal pages not my company profiles. I took a social media marketing class a year ago in college & I was the last person to think I would have enjoyed it so much. 

    My close friends think I am witty and I think that translates very well to social media. The chart is spot on though because I prefer time in solitude and without a doubt think before speaking. I often wonder if I am a great candidate for working in social media. I think working in social media by nature allows introverts to drift towards extroversion and I definitely fall into that category. 

    While my core is introvert, social media extracts any extrovert characteristics I do have. Anyway I love the topic and will be sharing on my profiles. Great job!

  • Jim Starr's picture
    Oct 25 Posted 3 years ago Jim Starr

    Yes, and that's exactly MY point, Kimbe: that perhaps the mistake many have made is to have put the emphasis on “social.” There’s certainly that interpersonal interaction aspect to this business. But the “social media person” in a company can’t expect to be spending their day chatting, but figuring out ways to open up dialogue. Less about being a social butterfly, flitting about from channel to channel, and more about creating both “a voice” and ultimately, more importantly, “the ear” to go along with that voice.

    I’ve worked with teams in which the “social media person” had a grasp of socializing, but little grasp of media, and certainly not communications through media channels.

    Could it be then, that many extroverts have started a career in Social Media thinking they'd get to be "out there" in the literal, face-to-face way that best suits their personality, only to find that the field is about making connection and communicating in a less “out there” way?

  • Kimbe_Mac's picture
    Oct 25 Posted 3 years ago Kimbe_Mac

    Thanks for your comment, Jim. I certainly agree with you, but also think that the definition "social" is often mis-tied to extroverts. Introverts are not, by definition, anti-social; they just value and interact in social situations differently!

  • Jim Starr's picture
    Oct 24 Posted 3 years ago Jim Starr

    Kimbe: Glad you asked. I'm an INFJ and an introvert of the highest order. But as a writer and creative director, I feel freakishly comfortable working in social media, precisely because I am so introverted (whether I'm any good at it is of course another matter!). Maybe the answer is to be found in the term itself: it's the "media" that's being "social," not me! I'm simply doing what I've always done, creating messages intended for my fellow human beings. And to be doing so at a time when directness and authenticity are essential, I couldn't be happier. I think it's a great field, and an incredible time, for introverts like me. 

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