After reading Deb Ng’s post on the self-centred world of social media I began to think about the balance of self-promotion and engaging conversation, particularly in online content marketing (which is where I mostly hang out). I don’t think all self-promotion has to be selfish, in fact, I think self-promotion can even qualify for engaging conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, we can all spot (whether in others or ourselves) people who suddenly become very active online, only to reveal it’s to support their upcoming launch, or those who constantly brag about their achievements, or those who only form relationships based on list size, influence ability, status and what it can do for their business.
So how can we find a comfortable balance? I think it helps to remember these three things:
A Little Talking About Yourself Attracts Like-Minded People
I’m a huge fan of listening to other people, but if all you do is listen people can feel they don’t actually know you all that well. Yes you’re attentive and nod in the right places, but peppering your conversation with little details about who you are and what you love can solidify a bond with like-minded people.
Don’t be afraid to be personable in your conversation or your online content. Let people know you love Neil Diamond, or Bluegrass music and your passion for what it is that you do. These are the things that make you stand out amongst a sea of people who are trying to say the right thing to get “everyone’s” approval.
Accomplishments Build Trust And Credibility
Deb mentioned that she was incredibly proud of her job and the book that she’s writing, but feels uncomfortable talking about them when it starts to fall into the realm of self-promotion. I am similarly proud of certain achievements, but by nature am a bit of a quiet soul. However, I have found in the past that being so quiet doesn’t always serve you or your audience that well.
Mentioning that you are writing a book, or have relevant achievements to be proud of in your field bolsters trust and credibility. Let’s say someone is interested in how to use social media to promote their business and you give them a few tips. They nod politely and promptly forget all of your advice.
Now let’s say that you casually mention you wrote a book on the subject and have spoken at a number of conferences, and then give them a few tips. Suddenly they’re actively listening to what you have to say, and are more likely to take your advice, put it to work in their business and get results that they’re happy with.
In copywriting, trust and credibility are influential factors in giving people the confidence and security to buy from you. Sharing your accomplishments doesn’t have to be about saying “look how great I am” it can be a more subtle message of:
“I’ve been down the path you want to go down and I got some pretty good results, let me show you how to do the same.”
Selling Doesn’t Have To Be Selfish
Promoting your product, event or cause doesn’t have to be a “bad thing.” The problem happens when:
- We promote to people we can’t help
- We use the “spray and pray” tactic of promoting to anyone who will listen
- In our promotion we forget about the benefits to the potential customer
Telling your community or your target market that you have a product or event that you think they will enjoy, isn’t selfish, it’s reaching out to people whose lives you can improve.
Asking people to give you money so you can take a holiday, or a trip to a conference (with no benefit to the contributory) is pretty selfish and ugly.
Promoting yourself in content or in person doesn’t have to be a selfish act and by listening, you improve your chances of finding the right people who not only welcome your promotions, but will thank you for them.
What about you? Are there self-promoting techniques that instantly turn you off such as automatic pitches through Twitter? Or have you felt uncomfortable about selling or promoting, only to have a grateful audience for sharing your knowledge with them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Constantin Gabor says
So it’s like talk about yourself but through the filter of your experience which must be relevant to what your teaching on your blog.
It’s more like telling a story which has a lesson attached, only you’re both the storyteller and teacher.
I used to write a “personal journal” and when I switched to writing for my audience the traffic stats started climbing up and it seems they’re still on an uphill trend. The point is, even if you write about yourself, don’t forget to teach or give value. That’s the “trick”.
Thanks for the article, Amy! You reminded me to keep my focus on my readers and deliver my personality as well.
Applying the relevant filters makes the difference between a story that someone wants to listen to, and being a bore who talks about anything without regard to her audience. Or at least thta’s how I see it 🙂
Stacey Herbert says
Hmm..this is an interesting one for me..as I’m more worried about sounding ‘preachy or like a no it all’. rather than self asbsorbed. Actually scrap that.. I’m worried about that too, lol. Maybe this is naive, but when I sit down to write, my most flowing times are when I don;t think about my audience, I just write. Leave it all on the page, then leave it alone for at least 24 hours. On return I can see where I might sound like a twat and carefully edit, otherwise, sometimes I think you have to just trust your intuition and gut instinct and when in doubt..your stats. I enjoyed reading this and it got me thinking
Thanks Stacey, and I know what you mean about finding that flow when you don’t think about your audience. Worrying too much about what people think make writing like walking through treacle. But at the same time, if you want to attract clients you can’t write in a vacuum, you have to understand what people are looking for and what they want and expect from you. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule to it either. Like you say, it’s part intuition and part hard facts. 🙂