I’m currently re-reading (and loving) Dan Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas (mouthful isn’t it? Try saying that three times after a red wine or two!)
He found that
“…as negativity increased, the number of people interested in reading…decreased.”
Dan was talking about personal accounts and I totally get what he is saying – after all, I really don’t like reading tweet after tweet of negativity – I can go to the local TV news for that.
And I know from personal experience that I will mute or stop following someone if they continually tweet negativity at me.
But does the same advice follow for business orientated accounts?
In my opinion, yes and no. (And from now on I’m talking about all online communications, not just Twitter updates).
When running online communications for a large, faceless brand, the ability to inject one’s personality into those communications is very, very, very low.
As consumers we’re only going to see the ‘good’ stuff – the stuff that’s gone through focus groups; has been approved by internal committees; and spun by PR professionals to make sure it pushes all the right buttons in our consumer heads.
But when running online communications for a small or micro business the opportunity to inject personality is not only infinitely higher, it is almost mandatory.
In the small business world, your customers are buying from ‘you’ – the personality behind the company – and giving them a glimpse of your personality (and the personality of your team members if you’re lucky enough to have team members!) is vital.
And that means showing the good side and perhaps sometimes the not so good side of running a business.
It might be scary but it can really work
My best example for this is James Altucher. His writing is raw and personal and totally riveting. There’s no way I can compete with his words, so I’m just going to put some of my favourite quotes of his down:
Bleed in the first line. We’re all human. A computer can win Jeopardy but still not write a novel. You want people to relate to you, then you have to be human. Penelope Trunk started a post a few weeks ago: “I smashed a lamp over my head. There was blood everywhere. And glass. And I took a picture.” That’s real bleeding. My wife recently put up a post where the first line was so painful she had to take it down. Too many people were crying.
Deliver something of value. Everyone has read blog posts like “10 ways to have more confidence in a meeting”. Without the above three items though, nobody will read that post. But people want help. They need it. It’s a hard world. If you really have something you are expert (through personal experience or heavy reading that you can synthesize) then share it. But deliver value in every post. Deliver value in every sentence. Try to in every word if possible.
(From 10 rules about blogging)
How I do it
Like most things in life, this is something that is best done in moderation, especially if you’re not so comfortable sharing personal stories. I hate doing it, both in person and online, but I’m trying to get better.
This is how I want to do it:
- Write the post – usually immediately after the event, but sometimes a bit later once I’ve recovered a bit.
- Leave it in drafts.
- Come back to it when I’ve recovered, as part of my daily writing routine.
- Decide whether it has value or whether it was really just me whinging about my #firstworldproblems
- If there’s value, edit it and put it up online, either here or on my personal site.
I’ll let you know how I go!
Need help getting started? Come and have a chat with us, we’d love to see how we can help.