May 22, 2013

Find your voice in the social media crowd

Photo courtesy of Grant Neufeld (Creative Commons)

How enemies, unfollowers & churn can be a good thing

Chris AbrahamEvery other week I like to remind you that you’re being a social media wuss. And, by wuss, I mean you’re being too much of a social media “nice guy”; spending too much time worrying about what others think. You spend too much time trying to get everyone to like you. You’re always afraid of stepping on toes or offending anyone. You’re especially afraid of getting fired. If you’re honest with yourself, that’s your biggest fear: losing your job if you’re an employee, or losing (or alienating) your clients (or prospects) by doing something as revolutionary as having a voice, an opinion, an agenda, or a point of view. Heaven forbid.

Here are three signs that your social media shout isn’t really getting heard.

You don’t have any champions

Your brand shouldn’t be a one-man band. The online world is — and has always been — a conversation. The Internet is a collaboration. The social mediasphere is a two-way-street. And if you’re speaking to yourself alone in your social media room, you’re doing something wrong.

What are you doing wrong? Are you boring? Are you afraid? Are you insecure? Are you derivative? Do you create unique and compelling content or do you just repeat, retweet, and reshare the hard work of others? Are you a soloist or just another face in the choir? Cowboy up and audition for the solo.

Even better, why don’t you write your own music? Become a social media composer?

Even if you have nothing to actually say, say it loudly and with confidence. Loud and proud always wins if you never leave the choir. Not everyone’s meant to become a soloist, a composer, or a conductor.

You don’t have any enemies


If you’re willing to compel the attention of the spotlight, you’re going to have critics. If you don’t, you’re not saying anything. You may not actually be dull but you’re being a dullard online. You’re not even being a dullard worthy of bullying or mocking, you’re being a gray man. “A gray man?” you ask. “The gray man is someone who can walk through a crowd, be seen by everyone, but remembered by nobody because nothing about them stands out.” The gray man is a concept taken from survivalism. The belief states that being invisible is better for survival than running around brandishing assault rifles and a big fancy 4×4. Cool, right?

Being a gray man may well be dandy for keeping alive in a post-apocalyptic deathscape, but being an invisible wallflower is antithetical to what you’re supposed to be doing on behalf of your brand, your company, your boss, your products, and your services.

Yes, I know you love social media because you’re naturally bookish, introverted, and a little anti-social (which is why you’re so good at social) but you’re now in content marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing. Marketing is a subset of selling and sales requires that you beat the band, get out there, and break through the chaff, the ack ack — that you’re able to go from your librarian’s whisper to Whitman’s “barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world!”

If at least a few people a month don’t even care enough to slag, slander, hate on, or flame you enough to make you a little nervous, then you’re not yawping very well; you’re not being authentic enough.

The reason everyone hates a nice guy is because the nice guy is often kind of a jerk. He spends so much time doing things he hopes and prays you’ll find appealing that he’s essentially a liar. He’s inauthentic because he’s not being himself and he’s got one hell of an unfulfilled agenda that moves further and further away. People really do want to know you better — stop being such a bifurcated putz.

Nobody unfollows you

We keep on talking about acquiring followers, Likes, friends, and fans. We’re obsessed with it. We’re also super-afraid of being unfollowed. If you’re never being unfollowed, unliked, bozo-filtered, banned, blacklisted, spam-boxed, or tarred-and-feathered, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. I don’t mean you need to bash people over the head — you can win with charm, playfulness, smarts, humor and entertainment.

But one thing you may need to do is message a little more than you do. Or choose a side. Or have an opinion that is a little more controversial and risky than glib beauty pageant aspirations for world peace.

If you’re never being unfollowed, unliked, bozo-filtered, banned, blacklisted or spam-boxed, you’re probably not pushing hard enough.

OK, I thought I should mention just about now that I am being a little extreme. I want you to increase your volume: frequency-of-tweets, boldness of voice and directness-of-intent. Ask yourself: What do you want from your followers? What do you need from them? How would you like them to help you?

In a perfect world where you actually got your heart’s intent, what would all your social media profiles, handles, Walls, channels, etc., be doing for you? Would they be adding bottom line to your revenue? Would they result in more donations to your cause? Would people be buying from your awesome eCommerce site?

Remember this: You can kiss your followers! They’ve already admitting to having a crush on you. There’s no reason in God’s green earth why they would be following, liking, and subscribing to you otherwise, right?

And really, the only reason why anyone would unfollow you is because they just don’t think that this is the right relationship. That this match wasn’t made in heaven and they’re going to look some more. It’s not you, it’s me; it’s not me, it’s you — whatever.

Churn’s a good thing. I mean it. If your followership is stagnant, it’s because you are, too.

So, you’re really not even risking anything, are you? If they’re already into you, you can come from a place of power, of leadership, and of control — but in a good, supportive way.

A little bad boy can go a long way

You don’t need to fear rejection because your friends, followers, and subscribers have already made the first move. Yes, I know that doesn’t make it any easier, but you’ll never make it around all the bases and get a home run if you don’t start with a first kiss. But, at the end of the day, the reason why everyone likes bad boys is because they take what they want, they speak their mind, they don’t apologize, and they stand their ground!

While I don’t necessarily recommend that much aggression be dumped into your social media platforms, I do agree with one thing: The stereotypical bad boy certainly gets what he wants because he knows what he wants and he lets people know in a very clear, easy-to-parse and easy-to-understand way. Even though he may well be bad, he’s not duplicitous and you never (ever) need to read his mind to know what he’s after. He’s willing to raise his voice and become the center of attention. He’s even willing to make a scene when there’s no other choice — and so should you.

Never has the mediasphere been more noisy, competitive, or easy to access in the history of mankind — you’re going to need to be willing to shamelessly and fearlessly draw some attention to yourself to draw attention to your brand or corporate mission.

Good luck — I wish you good luck on your quest.Chris Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Find your voice in the social media crowd

  1. And chameleons, the “likers” of everything, sometimes we get to move in and out, seen, yet unseen. :) Great article Chris.

    • Thank you, kind sir. The only thing is: chameleons — and I have had them as pets — do everything they can to conceal themselves, to blend in, and that’s what they need to stop doing.

  2. recently re-investing myself into the social game, your articles and info are fantastic. love it and thanks