by Brian Carter, Fuel Interactive
As director of an advertising agency that manages social media campaigns, I
was recently brainstorming recipes for social media success. Every formula I
came up with included personality.
In Social Media, Personality is Key
You can be controversial, funny, or intellectually stimulating. "Bland" loses.
- Do you have a personality or personal brand?
- How well developed is it?
- How well are you conveying it with social media?
Although your avatar, pictures and banners make a difference, social media is
primarily a written format. Maki is a great example of strong branding via
images. But he's also a good writer. If he were a horrible writer, it wouldn't
work. Eighty years of data from direct marketing and copywriting has taught us
words are more powerful than images.
Writers can tell you that learning to write well is about knowing yourself,
defining yourself, even branding yourself. Personality, in written form,
includes things like:
- Your Obsessions
- Your Opinions
- Your Rhythm
- Words You Love and Hate
All of that can be unconscious; not everyone has analyzed their style. But
your style must be distinctive.
Personality Alone Can Be Enough
The Twitterers who amaze me the most are the ones who have thousands of
followers, and they're ALL personality. All they do is share themselves. They're
not marketing something (other than themselves). They're not pushing their
latest blog post. Some of them don't even @reply much. They just constantly
Social Media Personality Optimization Tips
- Share your whole life. All work and no play makes you dull! The more you
share, the more points of reference people have to connect with you, and the
more people you'll connect with.
- Talk about what you love, complain about what you hate; preferences
define personality. Ever read the philosophical portions of Zen & The Art of
- Admit to your mistakes and foibles. People hate perfect people. That's
why we like to see celebrities fall and celebrities without makeup.
- Antagonize, but be careful. I usually do it playfully with humor. People
don't like being made to look bad in public, so watch out for that. Some
things need to go to the private messaging arena. If do you create public
controversy, be authentic. People can smell agitators who just use
controversy to get attention.
- Apologize. The capacity to make mistakes and realize you're wrong, to admit
when others are right, demonstrates humility, teachability, and is likeable.
- Get to know people and demonstrate you know them. A mixture of
self-centeredness and focus on others is required to create, share, and
- Spend enough time online to learn to "live" there. The more time you
spend there, the more ways you'll find to show yourself and the more parts of
your "real life" you'll find you haven't shared there.
- Exhibit signs of life: emotions, mind, body, and soul. Real people have
all of those.
- Be three dimensional. Photos are two dimensional, so I need a bunch of
shots of you to "get" you. Use Flickr extensively. I've spent more time in
people's Facebook photo albums than I'd like to admit. Pictures of people
grab us and we're into their lives before we know it.
- Be boring every once in a while. No one is interesting all the time.
It's not realistic. It seems inauthentic.
Talk about mundane things you'd tell a friend: what your pet's doing, what
you're eating, where you're driving. Caveat: I still think Brightkite
check-ins without photos or other content are annoying.
- Invite us into your solitude. What you do and think when you're alone is
fascinating. The same curiosity that sells celebrity mags works in social
- Think about the whole of your social media as a big four-dimensional
painting. (The fourth dimension is time.) Reveal every part of the elephant,
About the author: Brian Carter is a humorous keynote speaker and Director of SEO, PPC, and Social Media at Fuel Interactive.