In the post “Is your ego driving your social presence”, I asked how often you promote yourself or your brand as an indicator of whether or not ego is driving your presence. This is a pretty big topic that really needed its own conversation because we’ve all been self-promotional in social channels. So I thought it was a good time to dive deeper and get to the heart of self-promotion so we could analyze value versus ego, when to share, when not to share, and how to know if it was really about you or about your audience.
First, it’s important to have a discussion about self-promotion and why we do it. The reality for many of us is that we have social presences for our brands and ourselves because we wanted another distribution channel to drive traffic to something. It could be our blog, our products, our website, or some other web property. After all, that was the promise of social from the beginning, right? And the only way we can actually deliver on that promise is to promote things that will drive that traffic.
Is self-promotion all bad? That’s definitely up for debate. The only way we can have a healthy debate on the topic is to take a deep look at how much value we really provide to our audience when we self-promote.
Analyzing value versus ego
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if your audience really cares about your self-promotional content? I’ve always looked at it through this lens, “If you add value to your audience 80% of the time, you earn the right to talk about yourself 20% of the time.” Personally, I still think there is some relevancy in that equation; however, it’s what we are doing with the other 80% and how we talk about ourselves in the 20% that is really coming into question.
In “Is your ego driving your social presence” , I asked, “How much do you promote yourself or your own content?”, and I said:
“This includes all of your status updates about your blog posts, your speaking engagements, your recent awards, your sales offers, and even that testimonial from your customer. If it’s more often than not, then ego is driving your social presence. Because if it weren’t about our ego, wouldn’t it be okay to simply go out there and help people? I mean help ridiculous amounts of people with all kinds of things that have nothing to do with us? Wouldn’t that be okay, if it weren’t all about us and what we can get out of it?”
How often do you help other people and ask nothing in return?
When social media started it was about conversation and building relationships
I have typically looked at a content strategy and adding value as sharing really great content from other people, not the brand. But as I’m looking deeper, I have to question whether or not content curation is the best and only form of value. Because if we go back to when social media started to get popular, it was about conversation and building relationships. It seems like we may have lost sight of that and turned it into a broadcast channel. And trust me, I totally understand how this happened. Some of us have limited resources assigned to social media channels and the best way we can maximize those resources is to schedule posts. Content curation makes it easier to add value 80% of the time than actually engaging and helping people. To help people would require someone to be in front of their social media management tool, look for opportunities, and act on those opportunities. That would take a lot of time and it’s a pretty big ask, but I believe it’s an important one. And I fully admit that I am personally guilty of not spending enough time helping people and that SME hasn’t spent enough time helping people.
What if we better defined the 80/20 rule and changed it to something like 41/39/20? Recognize that any arbitrary percentage we discuss is just a starting point; it’s not a definitive answer for everyone.
- 41% Helping people and asking nothing in return
- 39% Adding value by sharing helpful content
- 20% Talking about ourselves
If we spent at least 41% of our time in social helping people and ONLY moved on to the other areas after we had done it, would it change the relationship we have with our audiences? Would it make it more about them than about us? Could it help us check the ego at the door and better understand what some of the individuals that make up our audience need? I believe it’s worth testing and seeing what happens. Ultimately, if we are truly helping people, the person who received assistance would most likely consider it a valuable exchange.
Is the content we’re curating really valuable to our audiences?
Does the content you’re curating really add value?
A lot of companies I’ve talked to and consulted for use some form of content curation as part of their value equation for their audiences. The big question that comes into play with content curation is, “Does the content you’re curating really add value, or is it just there to open up the door for a conversation about your products or services?” When we look at whether or not ego is driving our social presence, another possible indicator can be found by looking at the content you curate. If the only type of content you curate has a direct line to your products or services, couldn’t it be more about you than your audience? To be realistic, we are the only ones with this kind of tunnel vision. I’m 100% sure that our audiences are made up of real-life human beings. They have diverse interests that expand beyond what we can do for them, yet we choose to curate content that is so hyper-focused on something that relates to us that it begs the question as to whether it really is valuable? Yes, if your company sells running shoes, it would be a little odd to share the top movie releases for the week, right? That could be more confusing than valuable. However, we could likely go a little broader with our curation strategies. If we sell running shoes, we could curate articles about fitness tips beyond just running because, I know it’s crazy, but a lot of runners do other types of work outs. We could mix in some articles with healthy eating tips, some of our favorite recipes, and even some articles about great workout clothes. Or what if we did something totally crazy and actually asked some of the people we help with 41% of our time what kind of content they are interested in and shared that type of stuff? We don’t want to confuse our audiences by sharing anything and everything, but we could do a better job of understanding more about our customers and sharing stuff that doesn’t always have a direct line to what our company does. I believe there is value in sharing informational content that helps our audience without a veiled sales tactic.
Is promoting yourself okay, at all?
In a perfect world, we might want full reign to just go out and help as many people as possible. This would be amazing, for sure. However, reality shows that companies and individuals at some point in time are going to need to promote something they have to offer. So we are going to have to find a happy balance so that we can promote ourselves when we need to, but the question is, “How can I promote myself and remove ego from the equation?” and “What does that balance look like?”
If we are honest, the answer to the first question is that you can’t. Inherently, any type of self-promotion has your ego attached to it. So it’s probably best to just accept that we all have a little bit of ego, but we want to work harder at helping our audience and do our best to keep our ego in check.
With that in mind, what does balance look like?
If you truly believe that your products or services add value, perhaps we make a simple change and not mention our company or ourselves in the status updates. We can leave that as a little easter egg for people to find out if they engage with the status update. For example, I speak at a lot of events. I don’t necessarily have to mention that I’m speaking at the event in order to share the event with my audience. If I genuinely think the event is valuable, I can share it and say so. It doesn’t have to be valuable because I’m speaking, it can be valuable on it’s own merit. I may think my audience is interested in knowing I’m speaking, but frankly they aren’t going to buy a ticket to an event because of me. This could work in a variety of situations and for a variety of different types of products and services, but to really take a deep look, let’s look at when to share and when not to.
How can I check that my ego isn’t driving status updates about my company, brand, or myself?
- When you ask “does this add value to my audience or is it about me?” can you honestly say it’s to add value to your audience? If not, it could be ego.
- Is it still valuable to your audience when you remove your brand, product, or services from the message? If not, it could be more about you than about your audience.
- How deep does the value go? If you were to guess at the percentage of your audience that would truly care about the information in the message, is it the majority or a minority? Anytime it’s the minority, it may not be valuable enough to share.
Keeping self-promotion in check can be challenging when we are dealing with resource and time constraints. However, if you agree that you want to have a more engaged and deep relationship with your audience, it’s worth taking a look at how much real value you’ve been adding. If the value you’ve been adding is holding up a mirror to your ego, I think we can all agree that we have a lot of room for improvement. Myself included.