The challenge of being yourself

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The challenge of being yourself

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Remember what happened when you were a kid and and you got anxious about walking into a new school, a new club, a new sports team?

Mom or Dad would place a comforting hand on your shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, [honey/sport/sweetie/buddy]. Just be yourself and you’ll do fine.”

We smiled, we nodded, and as soon as they walked off we wondered to ourselves “And just what in prepubescent hell does that mean?”

Fast-forward a couple of decades and we find ourselves on the receiving end of the exact same advice when it comes to social media:

“Your blog should be a reflection of you”
“Find your social voice and let it resonate”
      (yeah, that was me)

“Express your brand personality to set yourself apart”

And for many of us, these words of wisdom are about as useful as Mom’s well-intentioned counsel all those years ago.

Fortunately, you don’t need a week of navel-gazing at a mountaintop retreat to address the eternal question “who am I” when it comes to your business—just a little informed observation and creative thinking.

Listen to yourself

Spend a few minutes thinking about how you interact with business contacts in person or over the phone. Are you chatty? More to-the-point? Do you ask more questions or make more statements? Are you all business or does the conversation meander to family, personal interests, and the like?

Even your choice of words can give important clues to your public persona. For example, what’s your exclamation of choice when you hear good news? “Awesome?” “Super?” “Groovy?” “Hella-cool?” Scribble down your findings and chances are you’ll see the beginnings of a shiny new social voice taking shape.

Ask your network

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your customers, peers, partners, and other trusted sources on your business’ public persona. Jot down 20 or so descriptors that may apply to your organization and ask people to circle the top five.

Pick an icon

Pick a famous spokesperson. No, really, I’m serious. Indulge in a little creative daydreaming and decide which celebrity you’d pick to represent your business.

Would you go for a refined Kelsey Grammer, or is outrageous Lady Gaga more your style? What about sports? Jerry Rice and Chad Ochocinco played the same position on the football field, but their personalities couldn’t be more different—which one would you hire if you had to choose?

This is a fun exercise that can involve your entire staff, your clients, your family, and anyone else who knows your organization, so don’t hold back. (And remember that the new-and-improved Facebook Questions is a great platform for taking questions like this to your social peeps!)

So what’s your secret to “being yourself” in social media? Share your success with us in the comments!


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