About this column
This post is part of a blog hop series on Social Media Consciousness, organized by the lovely and oh-so-conscious Heather Day of Vital Being Wellness. Click here for a list of all the posts in the Social Media Consciousness series. And if you tweet this post, please include the hashtag #SocialMediaConsciousness.
Most everyone I know who does anything intentional online wants to find their social media voice.
Of course, there will be those who read the title of this post and scoff. Pshaw, they’ll think. Ain’t no thing as a ‘social media voice.’ I’m just me. Let’s not get too self-conscious about it.
Allow me to paint a little scenario.
Most of us know what it’s like to open Twitter or Hootsuite or Facebook or Google+, and collect our thoughts, fingers poised over the keyboard. We want to connect. We want to add value, contribute meaning, be part of an Important Conversation. And, if we’re on social media at least partly for business networking and marketing, we want to generate some sort of interest in who we are and what we do.
And with that loaded pistol of creative expectation pushed into the back of our neck, we start typing.
What comes next is anybody’s guess. Maybe we write the most brilliant status update of our life; it gets 149 likes and 16 shares. We go to bed that night still high on the Social Media Validation cocktail we felt lucky enough to sip that day.
Or maybe, we write the most heartfelt blog post of our life, the one we feel perfectly marries the values we stand for, the work we have to offer the world, and our own poignant personal story. We push Publish. We perch like an expectant mama bird, waiting for her delicate, speckled eggs to hatch. Refreshrefreshrefresh. And — crickets. Crickets forever [great new band name by the way — somebody please steal that]. Two months later, still not one comment.
What does this mean? Does it mean that you, your voice, your essence, the ideas you care about, are not wanted, not desirable, not share-worthy? Not pruned and primped up enough for digital culture? Not spotlight-ready?
Maybe that is the case, if you see yourself as a fledgling content creator trying to navigate the thicket of social media without a clue, desperately wanting to find the magic Social Media Strategy That Makes An Impact [!!!!!!!!].
But probably not, no — not by my standards, at least.
Every voice, and every Voice Value that it might embody, can be authentic.
There is a realer (can we make that a word?) version of your voice and a less real version of your voice — even when you’re strongly identified with your Voice Value’s particular verbs, adjectives, and metaphors. I can be all Clarity/Power/Excellence/Depth/Legacy on my On Days and my Off Days. I can be writing and crafting social media updates from an authentic inner stance or not, depending on the context, whether or not I’m triggered, or how hormotional I am (let’s definitely make that a word).
How do you get to a stance of owning your authentic social media voice? Of not shrinking and shimmying into someone else’s brand language just because it’s the style of Call To Action, or it’s the phrase of the moment, that gets the most shares?
I’d like to offer this: finding your social media voice, as a thinker and a creator and a human being conversing in the digital marketplace, is about finding your intention.
And finding your intention has to be 100% about you, not about them.
You might have a high Helpfulness value. You can write a blog post trying to be helpful. You can share something on G+ trying to be helpful. But your desire to be helpful, and your act of helping, has to be enough. Enough reason to share something in the first place, enough reward on its own. You can’t hinge your success based on whether or not someone responds and says, “My God! That was helpful. Thank you.” Well, you can hinge anything you want on external validation, but it’s not going to feel very good in the long run. (Trust me. I know from whence I speak.)
Let me make this about me for a minute, lest I start to sound didactic.
My relationship with social media? Well, it’s a charged one.
I love social media — that it exists, what it can do. There are days when I love being myself on social media, and days when I hate being myself on social media, oftentimes in equal intensity, almost always within the very same 24 hours. Definitely always inside of every 7 days.
I’m one of those people about whom other people say, God, I don’t know how she keeps up with so many relationships and connections. Seems like she’s everywhere, all the time. How does she do it?
Truth? I’m a whiz at creating what this digital culture calls “valuable free content” — which is the stuff social media thrives on. I can give and give and give, and whether or not I get more business, I just keep creating and giving. Instead of building my next thing for sale (which would grow my business’s bottom line more quickly than will asking thoughtful questions in my private G+ community), I think of the next value-packed blog post I could write, the next color palette from Design-Seeds I could link to one of the 16 Voice Values, the next free call I could co-host with my collaborative partner. I think of adding value, almost to the deterrent of my own extraction of value (read: getting paid).
And if you look at my tweetstream or watch my Facebook page for a day, it looks as if I’m always on. Always there. Quickly hitting Like on nearly every comment someone posts on my Wall. Never failing to reply to a tweep. Plus-one-ing on G+. Pinning the shit out of everything on-brand for me.
But hey, this hyperconnectivity is not necessarily something to emulate.
(Have I mentioned I’m an introvert?)
Why do I do social media the way I do it?
For me, it’s a control mechanism as much as anything. [Ohhhhh, here we go . . .]
I love having a multitude of conversational tools and portals at my fingertips (literally). I love having the personal power — yep, I said it — to dip in and out of other people’s lives, to converse in slices, to convey huge support or fierce love or kooky wink-wink nudge-nudge humor in 140 characters, on my own timing, in my own way, and then to walk away. I like how social media allows me to connect, from a place that feels safe and relatively free, because nobody from Twitter is going to just come over to my house unannounced, and very few of my online connections have my phone number. I like looking as if I’m always watching, because to not always watch leaves you [me] unguarded, and vulnerable, and out of control. (High Power value, much?)
And this, my friends, is the most
valuable vulnerable I think I’ve ever been on social media. Right here, in this blog post.
So lately, when I’m on social media (or my fingers are itchy to pick up my iPhone and get on social media), I do an intentions check.
I ask myself (in my head, not out loud):
Why do I want to use social media right now?
Why is that reason important to me?
Can I use social media right now, for that reason, without expecting anyone else to do something, say something, be a certain way, or respond to me in a way I’m pre-anticipating?
And if the answer to the last question is NO — and the truth is I need some kind of external validation — then I try to go find something else to do. Make a smoothie. Walk my dogs. Take a nap (but not really). Or pin some shit.
Now over to you.
In the comments, I’d love to hear:
How do you connect with your authentic social media voice? How do you check your own intentions?