At this point in the semester, we know a lot about the ways that a person can use social media for professional purposes. Businesses can market their products and services on social media and individuals can market themselves. We’ve also talked about our personal uses of social media, and how that personal use is becoming increasingly professional for many of us. One of the class discussions that really stuck with me was our conversation about voice and craft. We craft a specific voice on social media to persuade people to like us and agree with our message. We post photos and share content that will make others like us, literally and figuratively. But after reading a recent article on the Entrepreneur, I found myself wondering if we sometimes sacrifice our true selves for a voice that will get us more likes.
The article highlights a recent study of social media use by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield. The duo surveyed over 1,600 participants online and found that many of us have become social media “trophy hunters.” This means that 58% of the people surveyed claimed that attempting to craft the perfect post has prevented them from enjoying life. Participants also admitted to neglecting their loves ones, driving recklessly, feeling humiliated while snapping selfies in public, and posting things that they would never say in real life. People seem to focus on crafting a voice that will gain them attention, while neglecting a voice that conveys their true personality and allows them to live their life without interruption.
This article made me consider our discussion of voice and the ways that we change ourselves to appeal to other people. When we craft a new voice, are we ignoring our true selves? Are we placing our real lives on hold just to get social points and social media likes? I definitely think there is a danger in creating a completely new voice for your social media self, but I don’t think that we’re all in doomed to lose ourselves if we attempt to appear a bit more professional online. The danger for me comes when I focus less on crafting a voice that is a professional version of myself, and more on gaining likes, followers, and favorites.
According to the study, social media is killing our capacity for happiness. I don’t think this is completely true, but I bet there is some validity to the conclusion that social media affects our feelings of self-worth. I know that I feel bad when I post something that no one likes or engages with. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I feel awkward and slightly disappointed when my posts go unnoticed. My solution to this problem? I’ve tried to stop caring about likes and social confirmation. This is obviously easier said than done, but I’ve compiled a short list of steps that you can try to avoid becoming a slave to social media self-worth.
- Focus on your voice: Create a voice that is professional, but don’t lose your true personality. When you create a voice for yourself and focus on keeping that voice consistent, you will become less focused on pleasing your audience and more focused on staying consistent in your social media persona. If you’re spending a lot of time considering what tone will gain you the most likes, you may want to sit down and think about the message you want to send to your audience, not the message you believe they want to hear. Be the professional you, not someone else. To ensure that I’ve kept my voice on a professional account, I usually draft like I would post to my personal account and then edit to something a little more professional. Don’t sacrifice your voice for likes.
- Do Not Check After You Post: The number one way to ruin your confidence in a post is to check on it every 4 minutes. Yes, you want your business to get noticed on social media. You want your ideas to be spread and confirmed, but if your post fails, what’s the big deal? You can post something better later. Don’t stress over a post by logging onto Facebook 20 times throughout the day to check how well your post did. Put the phone down and get back to more important work.
- Don’t Post Excessively: If you find yourself posting to a professional account many times in one day, it’s possible that you’re posting too much. Of course, some jobs call for multiple posts in one day, but most do not. When you post many times in one day, it’s likely that the quality of your posts is steadily decreasing. You probably don’t have that much important information to share. And when you think about engagements, its simple math that the potential for failed engagements increases as you post. Limiting your posts (if possible) will limit your daily reliance on social media self-worth.
My intention with this post was not to sound negative towards social media. My goal was to highlight the importance of maintaining your voice and focusing on your likes rather than the likes of others. In order to be good professionals, we must realize that social media is just a tool for most of us. For the majority of professionals, one popular post won’t land a promotion and unpopular posts won’t end a career. We should utilize social media, but we should not compromise our lives and personalities for social media popularity.