Are You Worried About Being Too Personal Online?
When I first started blogging here on Spiderworking I had a dilemma. I had previously been blogging for my first business, an eco-friendly corporate gift company. I had built an online personality based on that audience I wasn’t sure if I could make the leap and do the same for my new, more techy business.
Anyone who read my first few posts would have noticed a difference in style. A guarded tone of voice, a clinical approach to my subject matter. It took me a while to find my blogging voice but over time it has evolved and I feel that I have managed to find a personal style that I am comfortable with.
What Are The Benefits Of Being Personal?
When I teach blogging workshops I recommend that small businesses try using a chatty tone in their posts. With so much content online it can be ‘how you tell it’ rather than what you tell that makes you successful.
Speak to your customers in a language they feel comfortable with and you will build a loyal audience who trust you.
For many this presents a problem. Doesn’t being personal online mean revealing too much about ourselves? We may consider ourselves private people. We worry about our online privacy and the ramifications of over-sharing online. These concerns are valid, but you don’t have to compromise your privacy to be personal.
Alfred Hitchcock once described drama as ‘Life with the dull stuff cut out’.
When we post online we can do the same. We can share an edited version of ourselves that is far more interesting once we’ve cut the rubbish and the overly personal bits out.
To be effective as small business owners, we need to construct a version of ourselves that will work for our customers without compromising our privacy, but how?
How To Be Personal But Not Too Personal Online
1. Know who you are writing for
Who do you picture when you write your online content? Have you spent time thinking about your ideal reader? The better picture you have of your reader the easier it is to develop a personal style that will appeal to them.
Consider creating reader personas to represent your ideal readers, this will keep your style consistent.
2. Be Chatty
Try reading your blog posts back to yourself before you hit the publish button. Does it sound like you are having a conversation with someone? Telling them a story? If so you are on the right track.
3. Decide on Your Online Personality
How do you want to be percieved online? Are you going to be friendly? Fun? Clever? Helpful? Professional? Serious? Controversial?
Each of these styles can work, you could even pick two or three of these as the basis of your online personality. Whichever traits you choose stay consistent. A dramatic change in style will confuse your readers.
4. Reel Yourself In
Did you see my video last week? In it I mentioned ‘tin foil hats’. One commenter suggested I should have worn a tin foil hat in the video to illustrate my point. I have to admit I was tempted but after consideration I decided it was a bit too wacky even for me and my style.
To avoid making mistakes like this, set yourself some ground rules.
- Will you talk about your family?
- If so what will you call them?
- Will you use their real names or will you use code words to describe them?
- How much will you reveal about yourself?
- How wacky is too wacky? Will it affect your professional persona?
To avoid over-sharing give yourself a few seconds to think before you hit publish. Ask yourself is this of value to your customers or your business. If the answer is no, don’t post.
5. Tell Stories To Illustrate Your Points
Different storytellers can tell the same story but each will do so with their own style. People will always come back to the one who tells the story in a way that appeals to them. You can only do this by adding personality to your stories.
Anyone who has been on one of my workshops will know I like cats. I’m known for this because I use them as a storytelling device to illustrate points and make my examples more memorable. I even managed to sneak them in to this video on Facebook ad targeting.
Cats aren’t the only device I use. I share stories about relatives and friends who think blogging is ‘people banging on about themselves’ or who have found products and services using Facebook.
Being chatty and adding personality to our blog posts and social media updates helps us build relationships with our customers but we don’t have to share our whole selves. Instead of sharing everything warts and all share an edited version of yourself that will appeal to your target market.
Do you find it hard to be personal online? Do you feel closer to businesses who share a bit of their own story when they blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts.