Recently, when meeting with a client, I made an offhand comment that someone is never too old to be a mentee and never to young to be a mentor. Then I said, “That would make a good tweet”, and tweet I did, with some positive response.
Afterward, I began to ponder how strange our world is these days. Our conversations and our actions have become less about connecting with someone, and more about fodder for tweets, blog posts and videos. We put ourselves on display in the name of connection and engagement - but is our online presence really more about our image and vanity?
Our addiction to sharing has created a whole generation of “image mongers” whose every interaction, every meeting, every meal, every vacation is either an opportunity to unburden themselves, or to tell the world how wonderful they are. And while there can be benefits to this, it's not always positive, or healthy.
Stuck in the Prism of ME
When we post the pictures of our trip to the tropics, while our friends and colleagues are shivering in the cold weather we left behind, we tell ourselves that we're just sharing our lives. In our professional lives, we post self-congratulatory content about the client we won, or the presentation we nailed. But are we delivering information or content that's useful to others, or are we simply satisfying egos?
Of course, businesses need to build their brands and connect with their clients and customers, and social media is a great medium for this purpose, but too often our “conversations” are stuck in the “Prism of Me”, droning on about what matters to us, without stopping to consider whether it matters to anyone else.
Social media is inescapable. Even if you aren’t a participant, those within your orbit are, and it's not likely to become less intrusive, despite the outrage generated by the Facebook data-sharing scandal. In fact, most people consider an absence of privacy an acceptable fact of 21st-century life.
Given this, it's important to consider the way in which we use it, and the contribution we're making through our every tweet and post - and if we are, indeed, making a contribution at all.
Posting to social to boost your own ego obviously has its own benefits, but it may not be the best way to use the medium, especially for business purpose.
Next time you go to post, consider these tips, and look at the value you're creating for the reader, not just for yourself.
Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Think about your audience - Can you give them a suggestion that will make their work or life easier or better? Can you make them laugh or tell them about an event or share some content that might be of interest? Focus on what you're adding to the conversation, or what challenges you're removing to your engagement with others
- Be authentic - Don’t post to puff yourself up, post to reveal who you are and what you think, so that you can forge connections.
- Be vulnerable - When talking about a success, also consider talking about the challenges and doubts you've had along the way. But don’t go overboard on the sharing, but adding a level of balance to your posts can help your audience relate.
Essentially, there's nothing wrong with posting about your wins and joys, but it's also worth considering what value you're providing with such posts. This is especially true from a business perspective, and too many people still transfer what they've learned from their personal social media accounts across to their professional efforts. They are not the same, and it's important to keep your audience in mind when looking to build your professional profiles.