A lot of what I disliked about the corporate world can be applied to the business of social media, particularly the phony factor. Every day we would show up to the office, smile, ask how you were, return with a “good” when politely asked in return, and resign ourselves to small talk while brewing our morning coffee. I never knew any of these people; I knew their names, their job title, and their e-mail address. This wasn’t for a lack of trying, but the corporate world values concealing your real life behind brewed coffee and a constant interrogation of “how was your weekend?” every Monday morning. I felt like I was the only one with personality, with feeling.
Sometimes I’d meet someone at work who would tell me they were having a hard time at home, or how they hated their current client or they’d talk about the VP like high school girls talk about each other, and my eyes would light up. Not because I’m excited at their frustration, but because this was a person who had no problem dropping the veiled, fake image of perfection and showing that their life was just that – life.
I feel the same about businesses on social media. Linking to business articles, Tweeting about professionalism and success, preaching the business word as gospel. These are great practices, don’t get me wrong, but I never had a desire to follow any company who stuck strictly to this formula. They took away the human factor of the person who was speaking and replaced it with something that anyone could come up with. I choose who I liked based on their personality and the same applies to social media.
It’s key to not lose your voice in the sea of Tweets; yes, you want to come off as professional, but anyone can talk about #success and tell you the 5 things you’re doing wrong as an entrepreneur. However, let your voice shine though. Share something personal or funny, make a joke, and even if you outsource your social content (without which I wouldn’t have a career so, yay outsourcing!), remember to Tweet as yourself once in a while and show the person that customers are dealing with.
If you want an out-there example, look at the Twitter account for DiGiorno Pizza. It’s just absurd; bad jokes, weird thoughts, harsh voice, poor grammar, and occasionally offensive. Very occasionally, there’s a real Tweet about the new sauce recipe, but other than that it’s pretty awful. But it’s unique! This is an oven-pizza brand that has 85,000 followers and growing and it’s not because people love DiGiorno (it’s not even available in Canada so I couldn’t tell you), it’s because the account is such a flip from your typical brand management.
In my case, I haven’t started censoring myself on Twitter just because it’s linked to a business. Instead I project my business image here and there but the rest is crude jokes or things a CEO is not actually supposed to say. Why risk it? Because immediately people know who they’re dealing with and I don’t have the stress of putting up a front or being caught making a joke deemed inappropriate. On that, it also means that I’m not attracting customers or associates who don’t line up with my personal values and sense of humour and makes for a more pleasant work experience overall.
What seems to have been forgotten is that when people are honest and vulnerable, they come off as trustworthy; wouldn’t you want to seem trustworthy to your customers? Anyone can be a business and post business articles from business places, but you’re a person – be a person. Talk about having a good night, share a joke you thought of, post a photo with you friends; your work is a part of your life, not your whole life!
You wouldn’t enter a relationship with someone who doesn’t know who you are, so how does the business world make that any better? You’ve added money. How does that make it more acceptable to be untrustworthy? Perhaps your kindergarten teacher was right, if someone can’t accept you as yourself then you don’t need them.