My blog is primarily made up of pieces about productivity, social media and how to succeed in the business world. This makes sense. As an independent consultant and freelancer, this is what I do, so why wouldn’t I write about it? I like to write about real life experiences, often unrelated to business, usually about my kids, and turn those experiences into lessons about running business, running social media or just being a general productive person. But the other day I did something very different.
Fifteen years ago, my grandfather passed away. Before he passed away, we shared an incredibly moving experience over a baseball game, which I wrote about on this blog. I sat on the story for almost ten years, and then wrote the piece. And then I sat on it for another couple years before I started to realize that I wanted to publish it somewhere. I’d shown it to a few people but I wanted to share the story with the world. So, without anywhere to post the piece, I decided to post it on my own blog, that one that I talked about being professional and all about productivity.
I wasn’t sure how that would go. I didn’t know if people would be bored by it or if they would hate it or if…well, I don’t know what I thought. The reaction was incredibly positive. People told me how much they enjoyed the post, how wonderful it was and how much they loved the story. In one case, I talked to a reader about whether they thought it was appropriate to post in on my business site and their answer stuck with me.
They said that my willingness to share that story and the details of the story itself showed the humanity behind my brand. I think this is one of the things that is missing from a lot of brands is the human element. People love stories and people love people. So when a brand is willing to put its people out in front of them, there is the opportunity for great success.
When I work with clients on social media contracts, we always talk about the concept of staying on brand. But most people think that means you need to be stuffy and impersonal and stick to the plan. I agree with coming up with a game plan and executing it. That’s what I do all day every day. But I absolutely do not agree that a brand needs to be uber professional and stuffy. Take for example, Honda. Honda had an entire week where they pretended that Skeletor, yes…Skeletor, from He-Man and The Masters of The Universe, took over their Twitter account. “He” joked about other companies and just generally took the time to be playful and funny for the entire week. And what happened? Followers spiked, engagement peaked and people had a great time.
There are things you probably shouldn’t talk about on your business Twitter account. It doesn’t mean you can’t. It simply means that if you do, you run the risk of being called on it. I tend to recommend to my clients that they stay away from politics and religion. Apparently those are two topics that tend to cause some debate. But it’s not a hard and fast rule. And here’s the thing about Twitter. Save for a few very specific beliefs surrounding automated direct messages, there really aren’t ANY rules about Twitter. You can do whatever you want. It’s the wild west of social media. Ok, well maybe that’s taking it a little far, but essentially brands are absolutely able to make their own rules and run their own show on Twitter.
So don’t be afraid to be personal. That whole “never let ‘em see you cry” thing is a bunch of horseshit. Right here, right now. I cry at movies. Most movies. Even movies you shouldn’t cry at. Movies you SHOULD cry at? I sob. Like a child. I cry at sporting events. I cry when my children do something amazing. I cry when my children do something horrible. “Never let ‘em see you sweat?” To hell with that. Sweat is the currency of hard work. Hustlers sweat. Workers sweat. Professionals sweat. Does everything come easy to you? Congratulations, but I want to work with people who know what to do when things get hard so you can ride off on your white horse to your big castle and count your money or whatever it is you do. I’ll be here. Working.
My real advice, when it comes down to it, sounds a little too much like an after school special but here it is anyway; be yourself. This, of course, assumes that you’re a good person. If you are not a good person, (and if you’re not, you probably know) then I’d recommend maybe not being yourself. Either be somebody who is a good person, if only for a while, or hide behind your brand.
Feel free. Just post corporate mumbo jumbo and hope it sticks. But if you ARE a good person, don’t be a shrinking flower, a wilting lily, or a something else that is weak. YOU are the most powerful piece of equity that your company possesses. Act like it.