Anyone who has vaguely glanced at my Facebook page or even just read my Twitter profile will have an inkling that I am rather a fan of chocolate, in its many forms, be it freshly-baked chocolate cake, a steaming hot chocolate or just a plain ol’ block of chocolate. I even celebrated my travel blog’s birthday a couple of years back with a chocolate cake!
Mentions of chocolate weren’t an intentional social media strategy – I just found it hard to avoid talking about it! But looking back, I can see that introducing this personal element into my social media is not a bad thing at all. It might sound simple or even trivial, but enjoying chocolate is something a LOT of people can relate to, and provides a starting point for conversations that lead to something further, or at least encourage other people to join the discussion.
And of course there are a few perks. I made a presentation on social media at a Perth library once and one of the audience members came up to me before the talk started. She said she had googled me and discovered I loved chocolate, and she wanted to give me a gift of her favourite chocolate. Before she’d even heard me speak! And I have a few clients who are aware of my preferences and stock up on something chocolatey when they know I’m coming.
In fact, this tweet about hot chocolate was seen by the client I was meeting with the following day too, and he made sure to have a very tasty hot chocolate ready for me when I arrived!
But putting those personal taste bud bonuses to one (far) side, I really believe that introducing a personal element of something you love into your online persona is really important. I was thinking of examples of people who do and don’t do this, and how differently I feel about them.
For example, I’m a big fan of Valerie Khoo who wears numerous hats but among them is founder/managing director of the Australian Writers Centre, author of the excellent “Power Stories” (a book that stays on my desk) and also a slightly mad cat AND dog woman. And that final bit is something I’ve picked up from her Twitter feed, from podcasts, from various bits and pieces, and it makes me really feel that she is human, it gives me a connection point (I have cats!) (and isn’t she smart for having both? Nearly everyone is either a dog or a cat person!), and an extra reason to “know, like and trust” her, which is one of the big points of doing social media.
On the other hand, there is Facebook guru Amy Porterfield. I have followed her work for some time and I listen to her podcast, and I’m excited that I’ll be able to hear her speak at the ProBlogger conference later this year, but I don’t feel the same warmth and “trust” that I do with others – and, strangely perhaps, it’s because she seems too professional. On her Facebook page or in her podcast, I’ve very rarely heard her mention anything outside of work, and I don’t feel anything personally in common with her beyond our work. I still feel that she does her job very well, but that feeling that I “know” her just isn’t there. (I hope I’ll be able to meet her at ProBlogger and find out that she’s totally lovely and friendly!**)
I’m not suggesting for a minute that we all need to divulge intimate details of our personal life through social media. I don’t. But social media is all about being social, and to be social, you have to stop being 100% professional from time to time. For me, it’s mentioning chocolate or cake, or occasionally the antics of my son, and mixing these ingredients in with my usual professional and work-based posts. For you, it might be a pet, or an obsession with tea or coffee, or your love of exercise, anything in fact that is a bit tangential or even quite removed from your actual work, but gives people another connection point with you. It might just naturally happen, like it did for me, or it might be something you need to think about first, but whichever way, I really think it helps the people who follow you online to connect, like and trust you, and when they feel that way, the bottom line is they’re much more likely to buy your product or service, and that’s not a bad thing, right?
**PS Sept, 2013: I can confirm that Amy Porterfield is, indeed, a totally lovely and friendly lady. And interestingly she has been sharing a lot more personal information on her podcasts recently. Good work Amy!
So, a question for you to answer: what’s your quirk, or special like?