When my kids were growing up and social media was becoming a thing I had two concerns.
First, what crazy whack jobs could potentially be stalking my children.
And second, what are my children projecting.
I've been doing a lot of thinking regarding social media these days. We've all seen people go on-line and behave badly. We see the political debates turning into the ugly bashing of people's opinions. We see a lot of mean girl type behavior. We see it all on social media, literally. We also see people posting all about the good things and how perfect there life is. Kudos.
I recently had a conversation with a couple of fellow authors about putting our best foot forward when showing ourselves on social media. Authors are using social media to promote their brand. Their business. Their livelihood. So, during the discussion, the question then became: where do you draw the line between being professional, being authentic, and crossing the line?
How I behave in a business setting is very different from how I behave in a personal setting. With my friends, I have the mouth of a truck driver. I like to swear. Do I do that in business? Nope. Do I do it on social media? Sometimes, depending on the circumstances. When I'm hanging with my girlfriends, I'm not concerned about how I come off. I'm being me. My friends accept me, faults and all. But do my business associates? Probably not because they aren't my friends.
So, what am I to do on social media? Do I be myself? Or do I curb my personality traits that others might find offensive?
I do the latter. Why you ask?
Because people are watching. My Facebook page is public. It's not private between me and my friends. It's out there for the world to see. For editors, agents, other industry professionals, and readers. Does that mean I'm not being authentic? Absolutely not! I'm still being my weirdo self. I'm just doing it in what might be considered a less offensive way. I liken it to getting dressed and putting on make-up when I leave the house over staying in my PJ's all day with my hair in a messy bun. When I go to a conference, I dress a certain way. I don't wear what I lounge around in the house in and I don't go decked out as if I'm going to a nightclub. Two things I will do in my personal life.
Social media has merged social and professional. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I have no issues with people posting political opinions. I won't comment on them, because it's their opinion and I'm good with that. I don't need to agree, or disagree and it has nothing to do with worrying about what others think and everything to do with separate personal from professional. It's a fine line in today's world, but it's one I still believe we need keep in mind when we're posting things on social media.
I teach a workshop on building your brand. Everything you do on social media is part of your brand as well as an extension of your personal self. You want to balance being your authentic self and being a professional. Why is that different? Your authentic self might fart at the dinner table, but does that need to be posted on social media, no matter how funny it might be? That said, do you need to be completely well-behaved? God no. This is a fine line that anyone who uses social media to promote a business or us authors promoting our books. One of my author friends asked why I so readily post some of those name games that show me as a bitch, or something else when I feel so strongly about straddling this line between showing your ass and being professional. I answered with the the idea that it's good for my readers, as well as other industry professionals, to see me outside of being on my total best behavior, but not having to hear me sing in the shower.
I say to you, beware your audience. Not everyone is going to like us but for those we have to work with, why ruffle feathers? And remember that even if you delete something from social media, it takes a while for it to go away, and if you feel the need to delete it, than maybe you shouldn't have posted it in the first place.
Now, on the flip side, only posting ourselves at our best can have an adverse reaction to our followers. We need to be ourselves, to a certain extent, but we also need to make sure we are being professional.
And that is my rambling for today.