There are social media experts and then there’s the rest of us. Here are some social media tips for 2021 for people who aren’t social media experts and never will be.
If you want to get ahead in your career and elevate your personal brand or that of your small business, you’re probably going to have to leverage social media.
There are billions of people out there using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to market themselves and their projects. For some, it’s intuitive and easy. For others, it’s a slog. I think most of us fall into the latter category, and even most people who claim to be experts are actually not that great at it.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s too much work and too much noise. It’s time consuming, and stupid. The algorithms are infuriating and they change with no rhyme or reason. And there’s always some new platform that the kids are using and it’s like JFC do I have to learnt to use that now too???
But we have to use social media, and it is useful, amazingly so. Through social media I stay connected to old friends with whom I’d otherwise have lost touch. I’ve found many a freelance job, made hundreds of new friends, and raised awareness and thousands of dollars for refugee causes. Because of social media there are refugees that have a new home and others that have hope. And it’s free, or at least very cheap, compared with other marketing options.
Fortunately, social media has been around long enough now for even non-experts to have a rough idea of what works and what doesn’t. Here are five social media tips for 2021 for people who are not social media experts and never will be.
Think but don’t overthink – Ask yourself before you post if you’re representing yourself and your brand in the best possible light. Don’t express strong political opinions unless that’s part of your brand presence and you only want customers who align with your views. Don’t get into arguments with strangers or insult people. If you have an urge to respond angrily to something, walk away. Once you post something you can’t take it back and, if you piss people off, your only recourse is to go into damage control mode. That being said, too many people overthink their social media content. I know I do. And then you wind up posting nothing. Overthinking can lead to content that feels forced or disingenuous, and If you present something inauthentic to the world, you’ll have to keep up the lie.
Read the room – Should you post your boasts about your weight loss journey on a body acceptance group? No, you should not. I see so much of this level of tone deafness. How are people feeling? Bad news days are also not the time to post your own awesome news. You know those posts about how great the COVID pandemic has been for someoene and their personal growth, or whatever, heedless of the reality that people are losing their jobs, businesses, and homes and actually dying. It’s gross. Don’t do it. Don’t be that guy at the party talking endlessly about things that interest no one, totally oblivious to the fact that people are avoiding him. Pay attention to what is going on around you.
Don’t jump into an already full pond – You can try to be the pretty girl or the workout guru on TikTok or Instagram, or the personal branding expert on LinkedIn. But there already too many pretty girls, workout gurus, and personal branding experts on these platforms. Every once in a while, someone gets lucky, but for every pretty girl with 100,000 followers there are 1,000 with 400 followers. You might get some attention – or you might just add to the noise. What can you be that nobody else is already being? Be that.
Document, don’t create – A friend recently gave me this brilliant advice that he got from this Gary Vaynerchuk guy who’s one of those personal branding type dudes and really good at social media. Vaynerchuk says, “I believe that the people who are willing to discuss their journeys instead of trying to front themselves as the ‘next big thing’ are going to win.” You’ve already got a life going on. Document those things. Write, talk about, and post pictures of what’s already happening (don’t forget to post stories. Stories are big. I always forget to post stories). No need to make stuff up.
Just be yourself. The good version – What it comes down to is that 2021 is the year to be the best version of you that you can be. Radical transparency and true representation are possibly the best ways to cut through the noise right now. There are (apparently) 2 million posts, articles, and videos published on LinkedIn every day. And every one of those people wants some variation on the same thing – a job, a sale, a promotion… On Instagram there are 95 million posts a day. Whatever you’re trying to fake, there’s someone else out there faking it better. The only thing they can’t be better than you is you. There are thousands, maybe millions, of people out there making waves and impressions with their niche interests, their cool talents, and even their vulnerabilities.
But that doesn’t mean you have to let it all hang out. You know that asshole part of you? The part that wants to get into online fights with strangers and express controversial and meanspirited opinions? You can hide that part. Even the most seemingly transparent people on social media are showing a carefully curated version of themselves and hiding the worst parts. Transparency doesn’t mean “be an awful person.” It’s like that stupid Ricky Gervais movie, Liar Liar. I hated that movie because it’s based on the premise that not telling lies means spewing everything in your head, no matter how mean or hurtful. That’s idiotic. You also have the option to be quiet.
Some people toss etiquette or caution to the wind under the banner of “just being themselves” or “the right to express their opinion.” Sure, knock yourself out. But you’re more likely to grow a network if you’re kind, friendly, and helpful.
Be you. Just be the best, most thoughtful version of you.
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