Talking About Yourself on Social Media: For those of you with a social media account, take a minute to think back through your recent posts. The majority of you will find that most posts are in some way related to you – to what you’re doing, what’s happening in your life, or – if you’re ‘that guy’ – to what type of food you’re eating. This is pretty common.
What isn’t as common is the knowledge that this is actually pretty natural and, by extension, that it can be used in your day to day business life.
According to research, about 30-40% of what we say on a daily basis is dedicated to informing others of how we feel, what we think or what we want, in one way or another. A few years ago, researchers at Harvard University in the United States managed to uncover the reason why – it is rewarding. In short, talking about yourself actually stimulates the same areas of the brain as does food, money or sex.
When we move this online, we actually find that around 80% of social media posts are self-centred (not selfish, just focussed on yourself!). This rise is attributable to something call self-presentation, or being able to present yourself how you want.
In everyday life, questions are asked and meetings are conducted in real time, we react to body language and facial ques, and our emotions can get in the way of ensuring we come across exactly as we want to.
On the internet, particularly on social media, we have time to present ourselves as we want – we can agonise over whether that particular sandwich filling makes us come across as ultra-chic or decidedly relaxed; lazy or willing to try new things. We can construct a status or tweet, refine it, and then release it to the world in the optimal form.
On a side note, this may potentially be why people appear to really enjoy using apps like Tinder or other internet dating websites – we can come across as much more lucid, amusing and considerate than we ever could in real life. Food for thought, perhaps…
Anyway, in short, self-presentation is making yourself appear as you want to be seen. It’s removing any unwanted photos from Facebook, deleting any disagreeable comments or tweets and – in the real world – can be seen in terms of spending money clothing or ‘stuff’ which shows us in the light we want to be seen.
The psychology of it aside, self-presentation is powerful stuff – viewing your own profile on Facebook has been shown to increase your self-esteem, according to researchers from Cornell University.
So how is this relevant to small business?
In short, let people speak! Ask them questions, engage with them. Far too many brands are broadcasting on social media – “Visit our store and see our products” – rather than seeking to engage: “What new products would you like to see in our store?”, “Which shoes do you guys prefer?”, “Send us some pictures of you using our tools at home”.
Small businesses can be very agile on social media. We’re constantly connected via smartphones, apps and the seemingly omnipresence of Wi-Fi. As such, if one of your customers comments, make the effort to engage them, ask them about themselves – after all, that’s probably what they want to talk about!
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