by Kristin Battista-Frazee
If you prefer spending time alone and when at social gatherings feel more comfortable observing others from the edge of the room, you’re most likely an introvert. These quiet tendencies may carry over into the social media world, too. Since social media is essential for shaping your personal brand, and has made the world a smaller and more interconnected place, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone to interact online.
I’m not suggesting that you become an online extrovert overnight and tweet incessantly, but instead think about how to use social media in a way that is most comfortable for you. As it turns out, interacting on social media is sometimes a lot easier for introverts, and—think about it—you can network in your PJs instead of going to events. Social media also provides you a quiet space to be more thoughtful in your interactions and more purposeful in your connections.
Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, mentions in talks that one third to one half of all people in the world are introverts. I was relieved to hear this stat. I definitely lean toward introversion (although I might be an ambivert) and realized I wasn’t the only one. I am one of those wallflowers at parties and sometimes feel envious of others who effortlessly become the center of attention. I enjoy talking one-on-one with people instead of large groups. Writing and reading help me think. I am not a prolific sharer on social media, either, and watch in awe when friends are a tornado of pithy and insightful comments.
I quickly realized through various marketing jobs and the challenges I faced in promoting my book that social media would have to be a big part of my work. Too much opportunity would be left on the table if I chose not to embrace it. I’ll share a quick story here, too. If I had not connected on Facebook with a former high school classmate, my last job might not have been possible. In this instance, my profile listed my relevant work experiences and, through thoughtful engagement, led me to a great opportunity.
The more I engaged and networked on social media, the easier it became. I took all the things I liked about social media and made it work for me. Periscope, an on-demand live streaming video app, is a good example. It’s a great tool, but it’s hard for me to jump in front of the camera, and instead I broadcast events. Shifting the focus outward rather than on myself works best.
If you’re a self-identified social media introvert, here are a few ways to jump start using social media. I hope this makes the prospect of engaging more doable.
- Post about issues you care about. As a social worker, you are an expert and have a lot to say about certain issues and many injustices happening in the world.
- A picture speaks a thousand words. A powerful image can express more than if you posted a novel. Keep in mind, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Pictures can make people laugh and cry, and they can convey your passions.
- Follow and like people and organizations that share your values. This will keep you more engaged and more likely to share content and comment on posts. Don’t follow anyone just because you think you should, and quickly unfollow when the content just isn’t doing anything for you.
- Find influencers and your target audience. Social media is the quickest way to scan relevant conversations about what’s happening in your area of expertise, find your target audience, and spot key influencers to engage. Social media can help you better tailor your one-on-one interactions if larger group activities drain you. As an example, I am a partner in the #MacroSW twitter chats and love it.
- If you don’t feel like engaging online some days, that’s okay. I used to believe I was unproductive if I didn’t post something every day. I let that go and realized that if I’m just posting to post, what I’m sharing won’t mean as much to my followers or to me. Your day- to-day life is busy, and you can’t spend hours posting content. We all need a break, too, from the constant stimulation. Social media will always be there waiting for you.
Let’s face it. Just because the word “social” is in social worker, it doesn’t mean we all gain our energy from endless outward interaction. But what’s true in both personal branding and social work is the value placed on relationships. Social media can be instrumental in forging these connections.
- 8 Ways Introverts Socialize Differently, Introvert Dear, September 30, 2015
- Social Workers It’s Time to Get on Twitter, The Political Social Worker, September 21, 2015
- Personal Branding for Introverts, Harvard Business Review, Dorie Clark, September 17, 2013
- 7 Personal Branding Tips for Introverts, The Ladders
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- Susan Cain’s TED Talk, The Power of Introversion