Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Social Media: Separate Business from Personal.

Harder than you think: One of the difficulties with social media is separating your business posts from your personal ones. This is worth working on. If you look around, you'll see that those who have a handle on how to use social media in their businesses are precisely those who can keep the personal out of it.

This is a bit counter-intuitive in my world, in that I often can be heard telling my customers, "You are the brand." It's my mantra. But now I can hear the same customer saying, "If I'm the brand, how can my use of social media not be personal?"

Good question.

When I say, "You are the brand," I mean that you are the face of your business. You are its personality. You are its voice. In the book world, it almost has to work this way. The author must be the brand. 

However, I do not mean that you are only your book. Or that you are only your business. I do not mean that everything about you must become part of the business. Your religion, your politics, your hobbies, your family, your friends, your guilty pleasures, your eating habits, your workout regimen, your views about your neighbors or in-laws, your pet peeves, your children's successes or failures, and so on ... may not be appropriate fodder for your business. Depending on your business, some of these areas may be fair game. Even so, some of them surely won't be. (If someone on your Facebook page has just announced that she's finished clipping her toenails, you know what I'm talking about here.)

You are, in short, more than your brand (even if your brand is you). Understanding this will be good for you and your business.

This may not be easy, and it certainly is a different kettle of fish for each of us.

For example, The Publishing Pro, LLC, is what I would call a "secular business." By this I mean that I want my customers to be authors or wanna-be authors, but I don't want to otherwise restrict them to a particular religion, political persuasion, philosophy, subject, point of view, and so on.  For this reason, I need to be careful about what and how I express myself.

Not all business owners feel this way. Some businesses are clearly sectarian. If you start a business selling crucifixes, you're going to have the most success marketing to Catholics. If you write a book about being born again, you might want to target your book to evangelical Christians. Some businesses seem sectarian—that is, they aren't about a product or service limited to a particular group—but the owners are comfortable making their religious or political views part of the business. If you make it known publicly that you will never hire a Smurf to work in your Gerbil Burgers Restaurant, you may lose the business of all the Smurfs in your area. However, that may be a price you're willing to pay, especially if the people in your area love Gerbil Burgers and are known to be uncomfortable around small blue beings.

My problem is that I'm a "scanner," which is a term I borrowed from Barbara Sher, a career professional who used to appear regularly on PBS. A scanner is a person who can't focus long on any one subject because he is interested in nearly everything. As a scanner, I have a little bit of ADHD in me, maybe more than a little bit. I'm a bumblebee, hopping from flower to flower, looking for the latest innovation in nectar. My opposite is a "diver," who becomes obsessed with a particular subject and dives into it, ultimately becoming an expert in the field. I'm not a diver. 

My business is perfect for a scanner. People of different interests come to me, and I get to work on their book projects. The trouble comes with social media. Because I'm interested in so many things, I'm inclined to write about them. Social media gives me all kinds of opportunities to sound off. About anything. And doing so is usually not good for my business.

Discipline is called for. The Publishing Pro.

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