Entrepreneur by Divya Parekh
A member of my community was very frustrated because she was getting nowhere with her social media efforts. She had used all the conventional means: a website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. As she was in an industry that I don’t engage with regularly, I had never looked at what she broadcast into cyberspace. When we talked, she told me that she was active in all aspects of her social media presence, but it didn’t seem to be working for her. I agreed to take a look at it.
First, I asked to see the analytics of her website. I could see that if people came to her site, their length of stay was brief, and there weren’t too many returning visitors. Then I spent time reading her website and social media posts. It didn’t take long to see the issue.
My friend’s material was well-written, and she had a great deal of variety on her website. But her posts all had the theme of, “This is who I am and why I am good at what I do.” We all have to do something like that when we are putting ourselves out there to get known. When we craft our messages, we have to strike a balance between talking about who we are and how we can help others. From everything I saw of her social media output, her writing consisted mainly of how terrific she was.
Don’t let it be all about you
Have you ever been to a party or a conference where you talked to someone who was great at telling tons of stories about themselves? However, as soon as you or someone else talked about something else, their eyes glazed over because it wasn’t about them? I have. It is funny to see the glassiness come over their face as they mentally check out. Call it narcissism, low self-esteem, or whatever the underlying cause is, but this is a genuine malady for some people. And it turns others off after they have encountered it a couple of times.
This woman was doing the same thing on social media. I found it odd that she was not like that in person, so I looked at it as a misconception in marketing and how she thought she needed to get her message out to the masses. As with so many things we want to do, it is best to have a strategic plan to make it happen, and your social media presence is no different.
Your messages should be about your readers and followers
Everything depends on the message you want to communicate with others. A priority in that message is WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR OTHERS! That should be your central theme. When people are looking to connect with something or someone, it is usually to seek help. This rule applies from needing a new washing machine to working with someone to become a better version of yourself. A person looking for either one of them will not waste their time looking at something that is not going to help them!
You would be surprised at how many people I meet who genuinely want to be a positive resource. They want to help people in whatever their expertise is, and that is what drives them. It is part of their values, but that gets lost in the activity of developing their message. You target your message to others, not yourself. Again, you have to say who you are and what you do, but it is best to construct your message on how you help others. When you do something like giving examples or stories of how you enabled others to achieve their goals, you illustrate your abilities without blatantly stating them. Your audience will understand what you can do, and they will be positively affected by your illustrations of being there for other people.
The paradox of using social media is that we want others to see who we are, but it can’t be about you continually putting your resume out to the world. It can be part of the “About You” section of your website. But most of your outreach to others is how you can make their life better – whatever your speciality field is.
Be a problem solver
Look at yourself as a problem solver. You are putting yourself out there to the public because you can solve a problem they have. For some of you, you might have a very niche audience that you can help while others might have more widespread appeal. Your message needs to be the same – how you can help others. You want your words to be about them. You want to show your empathy for those you can help. When you can relate on that level with others, you will make that elusive connection that will serve you well for a long time.
Empathise with your audience
Your audience wants to know that you know who they are, you’ve heard their issues, and you can help them. People flock to someone who understands and can help them. When you study influencers or those with exceptional standing in their industry, that is their followers’ impression. He or she offers insight or provides a service that others need and use. If you are not sure if you are doing an excellent job at this, look for a third party to objectively look at your social media and anything else you put out to the public. Sometimes we need another set of eyes on what we do. Getting others’ opinions is not a sign of weakness; it is an example of strength and perseverance as you craft your best possible message to the masses.
This article first appeared in Entrepreneur.