Subscribe for Letters From The Interior & discover YOUR brand's Voice Values with our complimentary self-assessment.

Finding your authentic social media voice

by Abby Kerr

in Uncategorized

About this column

Abby Kerr at The Voice Bureau is a participant in the blog series Social Media ConsciousnessThis 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.

A baby bird cries in its nest alongside two unhatched eggsBut I’d like to challenge that.

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.

I’ll clarify.

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?

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen May 24, 2013 at 6:09 am

I can totally relate to this! I’m an introvert as well but have become wedded to social media. I have slid into the give, give, give place. That’s not always a good place for me to be. Like you, I will continue to put content out there and share without necessarily getting a whole lot back in return. I have gotten much better at catching myself before putting something out there just because I feel as though it’s expected. It’s so easy to get lost in all of it. I’m working on not letting that happen.


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Hey, Jen! —

My new question for myself before hitting Publish on a great new piece of content is: “Wait a minute, should I be selling this instead?”


Heather Day May 24, 2013 at 10:15 am


Abby, when you said this was a little different from your usual style, I wasn’t sure what to expect- but I *love* this piece! In a conversation about authentic voice, sharing, and validation, you so clearly shine through. I too am working on putting something out there because I feel it’s of value, not just because it’s expected that I’ll post a tweet from time to time. It’s a constantly process of checking in on my intentions…. and maybe I need to get on your train and pin some shit. Just maybe. Adoring you.



Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Thanks, Heather. So glad you got us going on this important series. Grateful for you and the conversation you’ve inspired.


Heather Day May 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm

My pleasure! I’ll happily ask questions and let my talented writer friends sound off, any day ;) xo!


Erin Gael May 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I love this post! As a non-addicted social media user (and I also don’t need to use it for my job or business), sometimes I feel a little lost in the fray. I love the idea of questioning intention before sharing. This feels like an evolution of the conversation about WHY we are all out there in the spheres of social media, sharing all this information with one another. Thanks for being thoughtful and providing valuable, vulnerable content! :)


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Thank YOU, Erin! I like the thought that our relationship with our ‘social media selves’ evolves just as the channels themselves do.


Susannah Conway May 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

BAM! Hormotional is now officially a word in my vocabulary. Thanks for that (and for the post, obviously ;-)


Jo May 25, 2013 at 2:00 am

I was JUST going to say the same thing : )

P.S. Does social media addiction also manifest as an inabaility to write anything, anywhere without hashtagging it? If so…#ohcrap


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Glad you both like ‘hormotional.’ It’s an apt word, eh?

And Jo — yes, I think so. #HashtaggeryAsASymptom


Melanie May 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Also a fan of hormotional! :)


Molly Morrissey May 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for this post! As someone who is just starting to dip into places like twitter and g+, and starting to develop my own blog, this is a really crucial thing for me to consider. And I am seeing that if frees me up to consider the intention of each post – to focus on it’s essence rather than get caught up in wanting to teach well.

Right on.


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm

. . . to focus on its essence

I like this, Molly.


Jess Dolce May 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for months, but I’m commenting for the first time because your vulnerability makes me want to shed my anonymity (as your reader). And Crickets Forever. Crazy good. That’s worth a big high five.

I struggle with staying sane on social media, both personally and as a community manager for multiple pages. In order to maintain some sense of peace with posting, I’ve stepped way back from responding to comments. If I can answer a thoughtful question or celebrate a brave share, I’ll be there, but I’ve learned to let the rest go. Not getting “hooked” by the need to constantly respond or expain myself helps me tp stay connected to my authentic self (helpful, playful) online.


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Welcome, Jess! Thanks for introducing yourself.

I’m still learning to give myself permission not to respond to all comments. I almost chose not to respond to comments on this post. That’s a start!



sas May 25, 2013 at 12:47 am

yes to all of this. sarah bray cured me of a hormotional (LOVE) social media suicide caused by crickets forever – now i just imagine that even if peeps aren’t responding, sharing, retweeting or liking, they are nodding along in the conversation.


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I love that. That Sarah Bray knows her stuff. :)


Heather Day May 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm

YES. We can be seen without hearing the echoes of applause or the pats on the back. Nodding along, Sas. xo.


Tanya May 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

Yum. Yes. Yay. Thank you.
I continue to hold the cocktail party perspective of Twitter (in particular). This means that my conversations don’t go as deep as they would over dinner, coffee or a walk. So my contributions tend to float in the realm of “My God! That was helpful. Thank you.” I think I’d like to dive in deeper annnnnd I’m acutely aware of what boundaries I’d need to set up to allow myself those chunks of time to truly engage in that way. That feels pretty vulnerable to share too, but you’ve modelled vulnerability so beautifully…how could I NOT show you mine?


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Tanya, thanks. You are a mentor of healthy vulnerability online, for me.


Tamisha May 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Love this post, Abby. I’m not so good about checking my intentions when I get on as I am leaving comments or interacting when it’s time. I can get on Pinterest to pass time, or see beautiful things and for me, that’s justification enough, but when I get ready to leave a comment, I read it 50 times before I submit it, and probably make modifications twice that many.

As a caveat – introverts tend to love social media and the environments it has created for us because it is, in a sense, our perfect ‘way’ of communicating – on our own merit. That ‘dipping in and out’ action is ours for the taking – we love that aspect of it. I remember when you took your hiatus – it inspired me to do the same, but I was never able to do it for the length of time I wanted. At that point, I really questioned my intentions more than I ever have. “Why can’t I just take a break for 30 days?” Sheesh.

I was finally able to do it in an authentic way for me – more piecemeal. It felt right, good, and appropriate. I also have people that think I’m “always on.” And I am in a sense, but a lot of the time not. I have learned to use HootSuite in a way that feels authentic and real for me – many of my social media posts are scheduled ahead of time, which leaves me plenty of time to interact in person when I want.

I recently turned off Facebook and Gmail notifications too, and am enjoying that freedom – to check them when I want, not because there’s a glowing icon in the corner.

Love that you’re bringing light to the questioning of intention here. I don’t know that we can really grow without it. Or maybe that’s just my depth value speaking.


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The nice thing is, the busier our businesses become, the LESS actual time (as opposed to perceived time) we have to respond to every single comment, in depth. I’m at that critical mass point myself, which is part of why I must give myself permission to stop responding ALL of the time. I have to remember that there are other ways to show appreciation for and engagement with readers, beyond comment tit-for-tat. :)


shanna May 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm

As always, Abby, a resounding yes! Spot on–Intention is what it’s all about. Do your actions (social media or otherwise) enhance your life and the lives of those around you (or of those who read you)? And thank you SO much for linking to my article on Intentionalism–love you for that!


Abby Kerr May 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm

You’re more than welcome. It’s a great piece, and dovetails importantly here.


Melanie May 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Abby – I love this post. I just started reading your work (and joined your Google+ group). You’re so insightful, and I can’t wait to read more.


Abby Kerr May 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for being here, Melanie, and for letting me know you’re reading. :)


Wendie Tobin May 28, 2013 at 9:13 am

Before even looking at the comments, I thought, “I LOVE Abby’s voice in this post.” I really do. It’s fantastic, Abby. It is open and offers a glimpse into your own thought processes. You’re already high on the expertise list; this was a great peek at the human being. [*I* know you’re ahmazing, already, but…]

How do I connect with my social media voice? Well, this is probably not a good thing, but I’m completely myself. Social media dialogue, specifically as it relates to tone, feels so intentional and engineered. I spent enough years—Stepford Wife smile plastered on my face—in meetings, at conventions, and shaking hands with people that I didn’t care for.

I’m going to use the grotesquely overused word; I’m in search of some authenticity and that starts with me.


Abby Kerr May 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Thank you, Wendie. xo


alexis yael May 30, 2013 at 10:50 am

(Hi, I just surfed over off of someone’s link.)

I’m an introverted extrovert (or extroverted introvert?) so this piece really speaks to me. I’ve been social online for a very long time (before “social media” was a thing, we had LiveJournal and it was good). Facebook came and took the place of LJ (at least for me, I don’t do twitter) and I also started seriously blogging shortly after joining FB.

My blog is more of a “nod your head and let it simmer in your consciousness for awhile” than a conversation starting place (on purpose, although I like when I get comments, because they’re very random). Facebook is where my conversations happen. (And now Instagram, which I’m starting to prefer.)

And oh my gosh, do I fall into the trap of craving likes on instagram or facebook sometimes! So yes, yes, yes, setting the intention is really important to me, especially in those two places. It can be hard when I post a photo that I particularly like (I’m doing a personal 365 project on insta) and get crickets forever. But it is what it is. I am doing the project for me.

Once, I had crickets on *everything* and realized after four days that all my privacy settings had been (accidentally) changed to “private.” And that was kinda funny, after. But weird. Really, really weird. It made me realize that I don’t really get crickets forever, even when I *think* I do. That’s just comparison rearing its head. So, I let it go (over and over).

And when I get too needy about social media, I go read a book (because that’s my deepest pleasure) or take photos (because that’s my second greatest pleasure).

It’s wonderful to have this Social Media Consciousness project, I am enjoying it immensely (thanks Heather!).


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: