Everyone’s on social media and some people seem to mix the personal and the professional fairly willy-nilly. It’s not just Hollywood stars showing us their kitchens but also entrepreneurs posting gifs of themselves dancing with their babies. The personal and the professional are more intertwined than ever these days.
If you’re posting on social media for professional purposes and would like to get more personal in order to better connect with your audience, how can you self-edit to avoid falling into the over-sharing trap?
To answer the question, I’m going to use a friend as an example. She’s an artist with experience teaching children. She’s illustrated a children’s book. She’s had solo shows in galleries. She recently moved overseas and is thinking about how to profile herself using social media.
The first thing she needs is a clear goal. This means outlining for herself what her professional goal is right now. Does she want to teach again or maybe do more book illustrations? Does she want to create art for galleries? Is she interested in creating products for the local craft fair market or Etsy or a more professional outlet?
Next, she needs to know who her ideal audience is. Without an ideal audience, you don’t know who you’re talking to. For a lot of us, our first audience is largely made up of friends and acquaintances and initially, personal sharing feels comfortable and even natural. But over time, we want to attract our ideal audience. That audience is made up of the people we want to reach, whether it’s to start a community or to sell a product.
You’ll notice, we went back to the goal there. Your goal will help you define your audience. It really is a great starting point.
Finally, she should know what the purpose of each individual post is. For the record, “telling people what’s going on” isn’t a purpose. We might share to build a community, or to create stronger tie with your audience. You can do that by sharing something that they can relate to or finding the relatable or universal perspective on whatever it is you want to share. By doing this, you serve your audience and give them value in your post. You make sure they get something out of paying attention to you on social media. You make it worth their time, attention, and screen space.
So, let’s say, your goal is to establish a thriving art practice in your new community. You’ve got some past projects you want to share. Your audience, to begin with, is probably fellow artists. If you can build a good relationship with them, they can help you grow.
You want to share some older pieces in order to share your style and interests with the community – but really, the purpose in sharing those is to find someone who you might be able to work with or could introduce you to more community. You share your work, but then a detail of one piece and write a brief note about the technique you used or the challenge you faced or whatever it is that inspired that detail. All of these allow you to share your work while making it interesting for the audience.
Once you’ve worked through all that, you may find that the thing that seemed personal is more like a personal take (your take) on the professional. It’s your way of looking at your work.
Finally, ask yourself how comfortable you are with your neighbor, a child’s teacher, parent’s co-worker, your boss, or a stranger in the supermarket asking you a question about this post. Does that idea feel alright? If so, you’re in your comfort zone of personal-professional sharing.
So, here are the four questions you can ask to self-edit. The first two you will hopefully answer only once. The last two you should ask yourself every time.
- What is my goal?
- Who is my audience?
- What is my purpose?
- How do I feel about a stranger knowing this?
Now do a little self-test. Go back and look at the last three professional messages you posted on-line. Do the check, are you still happy with them? Are there areas you can improve on?
Will this approach solve the personal-but-not-too-personal dilemma for you? Let me know in the comments!