“Can you please log into Facebook and appreciate this post?”
It was one of the strangest requests I had heard in a very very long time. I wanted to make sure I heard it right, so I clarified the ask. “Please just like this post”, was the response.
On probing a little further, this is the story I got from the friend who made the request. It goes something like this –
It is her friend’s daughter’s page. She lives on Facebook and is very sensitive / touchy about posts and the responses she gets. A good day, means certain number of likes and comments on her post. A bad day means less likes and comments. She has the tendency to get ‘depressed’ if her posts do not hit a specific number of likes / comments. So, the parents put out requests to their friends and network to ensure that the daughter gets her likes / comments.
No. I am not exaggerating. And no, I did not make this up just for the blog. This actually happened and I am very sure we have all been at the receiving end of such strange requests. If not from parents, from friends and random strangers too – who hanker after likes to either feel or show how important they are, their thoughts are.
If not that, for sure we all know people who have been drawn into this web where appreciation is more important than conversation; where perfect is more important than reality and where quantity is more important than quality.
Welcome to the overcrowded, noisy and not so perfect world of Social Media.
In this digital age, getting swayed by latest trends, jumping on to a popular hashtag bandwagon or projecting a perfect lifestyle just to gain eyeballs, likes and popularity is very common place. Little do we realize that we are not the only ones who want this. Millions of others like us, want it too. And the strategy is pretty much the same.
So, how do you stand out in the digital noise? Like, actually stand out? I think the answer is rather simple. Be who you are and bring your entire self to the platform. It may look like you are a fighting a lonely battle. In the long run however, you will see real engagement that will help you stand out from the crowd. Here are three simple ways of achieving this.
Purpose - Why
- Always begin with the Why: Why are you on Social Media and what do you want from it?
- Pick the platform: Don’t simply create accounts on all Social Media platforms because it is cool to be seen there. For example, if it is about Networking - choose FB, Twitter, LinkedIn; if it is about Visual Communication - choose Insta, Pinterest; for Vlogs - choose YouTube, Vimeo; for Interactive Media - Snapchat, TikTok and for Blogging / Community Building - Tumblr, Medium, Reddit
- Write / share to express, not to impress: Work on themes and what you actually want to share with people. Always write because you have an opinion or want to express an idea that you are passionate about. Don’t worry about the likes, focus on engagement and meaning. The likes will eventually come – and will come from relevant people.
- Stay relevant: Engage only on things that matter to you; or things that affect you. Do not engage on trending topics just because they are trending. If you are unfamiliar, or its not relevant to who you are as a person, discomfort will show, credibility will take a beating.
- Dump the calendar: The engagement will start enthusiastically but will quickly become a drag. You will forget the why and post generic stuff. By all means maintain consistency, but do not be led by the calendar. Be led by the topic or what you want to share.
Reality check: “Social Media is a dangerous place to seek affirmation, acceptance, identity and security” – Cornelius Lindsey
Identity – What do you stand for
- Don’t fake it: Pick only topics that you are passionate about, or want to learn. Else, you will spread yourself thin and confuse the reader.
- Brace yourself for feedback: Whenever there is passion, there will be debate, discussion and dissent. Deal with the bad as gracefully as you deal with the good. That will show a balanced mind.
- Personal branding:
a. Picture: Another opportunity to show who you really are. Pick a picture that typifies you, not perfect practiced studio shots that projects you as someone completely different.
b. Title: Again, use it to describe who you are (as a person) and not what you are (your professional title)
c. Intro: Make the introduction a story about something that you’re passionate about. People relate to personal stories, not borrowed pieces of narratives. Does not matter if it shows vulnerability, it will show you are for real.
Reality check: “Don’t lose what is real chasing what only appears to be.” – Your Tango
Beliefs – Who you are
- Core: When you talk about core values and beliefs, it reflects not just what you are about and what you will do, it also subtly tells someone what you won’t do or what you don’t stand for. Very useful in work place conversations, interviews and the like.
- Personal anecdotes: When you get personal, people will relate in the form of “hey, she’s been there before, so she knows how it feels”. Not only are you being who you are, you will also help others be who they are as well. That’s when meaningful engagement and conversation will happen.
- Watch the line: When you get personal, so will others. Discuss and debate but know when to let go. Always be in control of the conversation. If it gets belligerent and one-upmanship becomes the goal, you will not be in control of the conversation anymore. Consequently, you will get lead to wherever the other person wants you to go. That, could end up being in complete contradiction to the Why.
Reality check: “Everything you post on Social Media, impacts your personal brand. How do you want to be known?” – Lisa Horn
As is with anything, too much of something is always detrimental in more ways than one and Social Media is no exception. It is, no doubt a very powerful tool. Use it, but responsibly and remember “if you follow other people’s footsteps, you will never make any of your own”! So go out there and let the world see you and hear you for who you are and what you are – passion, warts, blemishes and the works