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Social Media Tips for the Timid

Social Media Tips for the Timid

If you're a natural introvert, or if you've recently lived the life of an aesthetic monk, have caught bull at four and are now ready to come out of your mountain cave to join the rabble, there's no reason to shy away from social media. Don't let the word 'social' throw you. Social media sites offer a great platform for hermits and outcasts to be social on their own terms. You will have the opportunity to interact with others who are of like mind. But DO keep your cool. Many shy folk get in touch with their hidden extrovert online. Then all hell breaks loose. For such cases I would offer a small bit of advice:

To illustrate: Let's take the example of the prudish secretary who comes to the party, gets drunk, and then ends up wearing a lampshade while hula hooping all night from atop the wet bar in her skivvies. The point here is to resist being carried away by your newly found bravado.

In way, the internet is similar to Las Vegas, "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas," except in this case Las Vegas covers the whole wide world (perish the thought.) So keep in mind, most everything you write online will stay online... forever! Long after humans have vanished from the face of the Earth, and in the centuries afterward when chimpanzees will be askin' each other to pass the Grey Poupon, Google servers will still be humming away. They'll be blurping up every word you've ever written too. So please don't write anything online that you might not want your grandkids to find, ("Grandpa, did you really say THAT back in 2014?") let alone next week when your potential customers decide to plug your name into the Google.

Don't Be a Hermit

If you're using social media for your marketing purposes, consistency is important. But if you're a true head-in-the-sand ostrich type, it's easy to forget there's a whole world of people out there. Most marketers schedule social media interaction daily. This is especially important for people who happen to be on the shy side. Check in to your social media account at least twice a day to see what's going on and interact with your friends and followers.

Personal vs. Professional

For the timid who are uncomfortable with sharing a great deal publicly, it may help to keep personal and professional life separate. This is actually a good idea for all marketers. Only reveal what you want your fans and social media followers to know or what's relevant to your topic (your experience in your niche.) While it helps to show some of your personal side in order to connect with others online, you can keep it to a minimum. The fact that you believe you were abducted by space aliens may not be of interest to the person considering the purchase of your Buck Rogers theatrical ray gun from the early '40s. Then again, I suppose it might. How personal you care to be depends entirely on the nature of your market and niche.

Ease Into It

If the idea of interacting with people online is frightening to you, just dip your toes in rather than diving in head first. Not unlike other tasks you may have taken on in the past (such as that online course in hypnotism or advanced acupuncture technique) it takes practice to get good at socializing online. And for all of this stuff you need other humans to practice on.

Here's another thing that holds back some people: Don't like how you look? No problem! Find a picture of yourself taken 20 years ago, scan it, and put it up as your profile photo or avatar. Or use some photo of a famous movie star. Animals, cartoons or even photos of inanimate objects can work well for this. Personally, I can't count the number of Sponge Bobs I've had interesting philosophic discussions with over the years. Just think of this as an image of your inner self that you've choosen to put out there. Laughing monkeys, Chevy carburetors, space aliens, sex doll faces, it's all fair game. The goal here is to expose yourself, well in a "G Rated" kind of way. Then practice commenting, asking questions, engaging in conversation, and so on. And no, you don't have to act interested if someone starts bloviating about the Obama administration secretly conducting brain scans. But then again, it all depends on what your goals are.

Speaking of which, set a goal for yourself to do X number of interactions each day. The more you socialize online, on a regular schedule, the easier it will get. Heck, after a while some folks might actually look for you to show up then greet you warmly, or they may start logging off in quick fashion when you get there. Either way, you'll know that you've created an impression!

I would issue another note of caution here - If you ever decide to meet up in real life with an online friend, try not to look visibly dismayed when the person coming into to the restaurant has way less hair than Brendan Fraser or doesn't look anything like Madonna in her heyday.

Don't Force It

There's no reason to pretend you're an extrovert like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby. You'll connect much better to your audience by being yourself. Some timid folk may feel pressured to come out of their shell online because that's how everyone else appears, but it's easier to build connections when you're being real. Even if you are in deep self disdain for being a sub-average doofus with no more creative thinking than your average turnip, give others a chance to arrive at their own conclusions. Overall, the more you like yourself, the more others will too. Well, to a point anyway.

Find Your People

Join groups that you're interested in and that are relevant to your niche. When you do this, you'll find that there are others online with similar interests and you'll make connections with them. These days everyone from exotic matchbook cover collectors to NASA booster engine mechanics can do this, and so can you. Don't bother hanging out with graffiti artists and break dancers if that's not your thing. It will be much easier to relate to birds that are more of your feather. You'll also build important business relationships in a relaxed and casual way.

Find the Best Fit

Some arenas may just not feel right to you. For example, Twitter, which is all about real-time updates, can push you too far out of your comfort zone. If tweets from ex-circus jugglers or over-caffeinated members of the surrealist society get too overwhelming, just skip it and use a different social site. While everyone needs to push beyond their comfort zone to grow, it doesn’t mean you need be some kind of Lawrence of Arabia every time it gets hot.

Coming out of Your Shell

Interactions in social media often don't feel 'real.' Even though you're interacting with people, the face-to-face element isn't there. After all, a Facebook "friend" will never be like your chum from grade school, unless your Facebook friend also happens to be that person. It can help to put things into perspective if you translate the phrase "Facebook friend" to "Facebook contact".

It can help introverts break out of their shell by contacting social media friends and followers outside of the social media site. Meet with them in person or even talk to them on chat or Skype. Then, when you “see” them online, you’ll find it easier to engage in conversation. But DO keep in mind the cautionary advice given earlier in this post -- about Brendan Fraser's hair and all. And don't meet up in a dark alley at 2AM during a cold wet night in London. I wouldn't buy a used car from them either, well, not right away. At least have it checked for explosives before you take it out on that first test drive.

If you're still wary of getting involved in social media, here's a good confidence-booster. Whatever you're doing on the site, make sure that you're adding value. If you don't feel that you're adding enough value, find a way to give more. Be overly generous and you'll find it easy to make friends and gain followers. I mean, don't give them password access to your bank account or anything like that. I guess too many friends could be a bad thing too.

In any case, good, bad or ugly, it does not matter. From time to time you may find tremendous value in recalling the words of one particular poet laureate who graced the airwaves of the 50s and 60s. As Popeye once said, "I yam, what I yam!"

-- Joseph Maas, support management, LinkSky Value Host