Recently I sat in a room full of brilliant women talking about careers and dreams and goals. One after another I heard hopes of changing the world through activism, spreading joy, and setting a strong example to others like themselves. When our formal presentations were finished, talk turned to social media. Gone was the language of dreams and hopes, of confident goals and paths forward. Instead, an air of questioning and pleasing replaced that confident conversation. The language changed to self-doubt and subservience.
In our goals for our careers, it is simple to say I will do X to achieve my dream, because we recognize the power that we ourselves possess to make those dreams a reality. But in the realm of social media and marketing, we believe we are subservient to the greater population.
Much of this ingrained belief comes from entitlement issues online. Not long ago I fell sick and was unable to keep up with social media for one full week. I ceased all communication and didn’t touch my phone. When I finally picked it back up, read my emails, saw my DMs, and took a breath, I was shocked. I received emails and messages from all types of people with a similar message: we expect an explanation.
Certainly, there were well-wishes and genuinely concerned people, but even so, the underlying message (and sometimes overlying), was the same: a demand for information. This happens in big and small ways, and sometimes it is the small ways that are the most destructive.
We post an image on Instagram. We hear instant feedback, sometimes in the form of silence. We share an opinion, and we instantly know how people feel about that. This alone is not the problem. The problem is that we, as the sharers, begin to feel that that however someone reacts to our provocation (even if it is silence), is the right way to react. We feel that their reaction validates our contribution.
WE FEEL THAT THEIR REACTION VALIDATES OUR CONTRIBUTION.
This is how we learn about entitlement through social media. Because our careers, our income streams, or (and this is the heart of the issue) our self-worth are tied up in how people react to our social offerings, we become beholden to how people interact with us online.
And it is the acknowledgment of that relationship that pushes us to explore how to tide the ebb and flow of social media in our favor. We study charts and graphs, take classes, hire mentors, obsess over SEO, and for what? To find the best time to post online, in the most engaging way.
But really, all we’re doing is finding the most effective way of being beholden to someone else’s desires.
When I sat in that room of women all sharing “tips and tricks” for social media, myself included, I recognized the deep emptiness that had entered the conversation. Why, when we talk about our dreams, do we speak so confidently about what we will do to make them a reality, but when we talk about marketing those dreams, we demurely ask how we can serve others?
My social media strategy, if you can call it that, is an intuitive one. I do not study numbers or charts. I don’t care when the best time to share on Instagram is, or what type of post does best, or how to create cohesion in your gallery. Once, I cared. But a lesson, deep and nourishing, crept in at some point:
You can get people to follow your work. You can get people to take notice, you can post at all the right times, you can build a successful business by doing “all the right things”. People do it all the time.
But you can build something real and lasting if you let all of that go.
There is a way forward through authentic and intuitive social media marketing.
It’s called trailblazing. This is my social plan:
- Care about what you put out so deeply that others care too, no matter what time you share your post.
- Speak about what you care about so deeply that others are compelled to speak back.
- Stop worrying about if you will offend or put off or alienate with your work. You will. GOOD.
- Let your passion be the light that brings people to you. Not gimmicks. Please not gimmicks.
- Let people go. If you lose followers, they were never meant for you.
- Stop using the word follower, it’s yucky.
- Start conversations that you want to have. Don’t start a conversation if you don’t want to have it.
- Find your purpose in everything that you do and share.
- Never let the reason for sharing be to satisfy a statistic (ie: when you should post, what you should post, how you should post).
- Let your legacy fill your marketing strategy.
Go forth and conquer, Passionates.