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Social Media Conversation

Abby Kerr at The Voice Bureau is a participant in the blog series Social Media ConsciousnessThis post is part of a blog hop series on Social Media Consciousness, organized by the lovely and oh-so-conscious Heather Day of Vital Being Wellness. Click here for a list of all the posts in the Social Media Consciousness series. And if you tweet this post, please include the hashtag #SocialMediaConsciousness.

Most everyone I know who does anything intentional online wants to find their social media voice.

Of course, there will be those who read the title of this post and scoff. Pshaw, they’ll think. Ain’t no thing as a ‘social media voice.’ I’m just me. Let’s not get too self-conscious about it.

A baby bird cries in its nest alongside two unhatched eggsBut I’d like to challenge that.

Allow me to paint a little scenario.

Most of us know what it’s like to open Twitter or Hootsuite or Facebook or Google+, and collect our thoughts, fingers poised over the keyboard. We want to connect. We want to add value, contribute meaning, be part of an Important Conversation. And, if we’re on social media at least partly for business networking and marketing, we want to generate some sort of interest in who we are and what we do.

And with that loaded pistol of creative expectation pushed into the back of our neck, we start typing.

What comes next is anybody’s guess. Maybe we write the most brilliant status update of our life; it gets 149 likes and 16 shares. We go to bed that night still high on the Social Media Validation cocktail we felt lucky enough to sip that day.

Or maybe, we write the most heartfelt blog post of our life, the one we feel perfectly marries the values we stand for, the work we have to offer the world, and our own poignant personal story. We push Publish. We perch like an expectant mama bird, waiting for her delicate, speckled eggs to hatch. Refreshrefreshrefresh. And — crickets. Crickets forever [great new band name by the way -- somebody please steal that]. Two months later, still not one comment.

What does this mean? Does it mean that you, your voice, your essence, the ideas you care about, are not wanted, not desirable, not share-worthy? Not pruned and primped up enough for digital culture? Not spotlight-ready?

Maybe that is the case, if you see yourself as a fledgling content creator trying to navigate the thicket of social media without a clue, desperately wanting to find the magic Social Media Strategy That Makes An Impact [!!!!!!!!].

But probably not, no — not by my standards, at least.

Every voice, and every Voice Value that it might embody, can be authentic.

There is a realer (can we make that a word?) version of your voice and a less real version of your voice — even when you’re strongly identified with your Voice Value’s particular verbs, adjectives, and metaphors. I can be all Clarity/Power/Excellence/Depth/Legacy on my On Days and my Off Days. I can be writing and crafting social media updates from an authentic inner stance or not, depending on the context, whether or not I’m triggered, or how hormotional I am (let’s definitely make that a word).

How do you get to a stance of owning your authentic social media voice? Of not shrinking and shimmying into someone else’s brand language just because it’s the style of Call To Action, or it’s the phrase of the moment, that gets the most shares?

I’d like to offer this: finding your social media voice, as a thinker and a creator and a human being conversing in the digital marketplace, is about finding your intention.

And finding your intention has to be 100% about you, not about them.

I’ll clarify.

You might have a high Helpfulness value. You can write a blog post trying to be helpful. You can share something on G+ trying to be helpful. But your desire to be helpful, and your act of helping, has to be enough. Enough reason to share something in the first place, enough reward on its own. You can’t hinge your success based on whether or not someone responds and says, “My God! That was helpful. Thank you.” Well, you can hinge anything you want on external validation, but it’s not going to feel very good in the long run. (Trust me. I know from whence I speak.)

Let me make this about me for a minute, lest I start to sound didactic.

My relationship with social media? Well, it’s a charged one.

I love social media — that it exists, what it can do. There are days when I love being myself on social media, and days when I hate being myself on social media, oftentimes in equal intensity, almost always within the very same 24 hours. Definitely always inside of every 7 days.

I’m one of those people about whom other people say, God, I don’t know how she keeps up with so many relationships and connections. Seems like she’s everywhere, all the time. How does she do it?

Truth? I’m a whiz at creating what this digital culture calls “valuable free content” — which is the stuff social media thrives on. I can give and give and give, and whether or not I get more business, I just keep creating and giving. Instead of building my next thing for sale (which would grow my business’s bottom line more quickly than will asking thoughtful questions in my private G+ community), I think of the next value-packed blog post I could write, the next color palette from Design-Seeds I could link to one of the 16 Voice Values, the next free call I could co-host with my collaborative partner. I think of adding value, almost to the deterrent of my own extraction of value (read: getting paid).

And if you look at my tweetstream or watch my Facebook page for a day, it looks as if I’m always on. Always there. Quickly hitting Like on nearly every comment someone posts on my Wall. Never failing to reply to a tweep. Plus-one-ing on G+. Pinning the shit out of everything on-brand for me.

But hey, this hyperconnectivity is not necessarily something to emulate.

(Have I mentioned I’m an introvert?)

Why do I do social media the way I do it?

For me, it’s a control mechanism as much as anything. [Ohhhhh, here we go . . .]

I love having a multitude of conversational tools and portals at my fingertips (literally). I love having the personal power — yep, I said it — to dip in and out of other people’s lives, to converse in slices, to convey huge support or fierce love or kooky wink-wink nudge-nudge humor in 140 characters, on my own timing, in my own way, and then to walk away. I like how social media allows me to connect, from a place that feels safe and relatively free, because nobody from Twitter is going to just come over to my house unannounced, and very few of my online connections have my phone number. I like looking as if I’m always watching, because to not always watch leaves you [me] unguarded, and vulnerable, and out of control. (High Power value, much?)

And this, my friends, is the most valuable vulnerable I think I’ve ever been on social media. Right here, in this blog post.

So lately, when I’m on social media (or my fingers are itchy to pick up my iPhone and get on social media), I do an intentions check.

I ask myself (in my head, not out loud):

  • Why do I want to use social media right now?

  • Why is that reason important to me?

  • Can I use social media right now, for that reason, without expecting anyone else to do something, say something, be a certain way, or respond to me in a way I’m pre-anticipating?

And if the answer to the last question is NO — and the truth is I need some kind of external validation — then I try to go find something else to do. Make a smoothie. Walk my dogs. Take a nap (but not really). Or pin some shit.

Now over to you.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

How do you connect with your authentic social media voice? How do you check your own intentions?

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Unfollow and unfriend everybody.

The End.

Social media can be a bummer.Just kidding. There’s more to this story.

Seriously, though, I’m up writing late this evening (10:34 PM is late for me, who is wont to go to bed on Granny Time). There’s been something on my mind lately that I really want to talk about, but haven’t been sure where to start the conversation, or what effect it might create. So I’ve decided to share it here.

You see, I seem to be having the same conversation lately with everyone I talk to: clients, colleagues, friends. So many of us — and I certainly include myself in this group — are feeling SO OVER THE INTERNET. Especially over social media.

For me, the OVER IT-ness is specifically around Twitter.

Before you tell me, But Abby, Twitter is what you make it — I so know that. I have been making it what I’ve wanted to make it. And therein lies the problem. And so now, I’m making it something new — something I need right now.

But first, let me tell you a story.

Input is my party trick.

When I used to teach high school English (in my pre-business owning days), I had a sort of party trick I’d demonstrate to students on the first day of school, every year. Within 55 minutes (that’s how long each class was) of taking attendance for the first time and putting a face to each name, I’d do The Name Thing. I’d lay the roster facedown on my desk and proceed to go seat by seat, row by row, and recite the names — first, middle, and last — of every student in the classroom. Up to 30 students per class, up to 6 classes a day. My accuracy rate was about 80-90%, the first time through.

What’s my trick? It’s not a photographic memory, but a high Input strength. My mind is constantly in Input More mode (even when I’m dead sleepy, quite sick, or otherwise compromised) and I rapidly catalogue and archive new info according to my own specific schemata. I collect names, data, and details like other people collect baseball cards. Or tattoos.

Input has been my way of getting through the world. I rely on Knowing Stuff About Stuff.

For this reason, Twitter has been a huge joy — a perpetually updated feed of info parcels for my consumption, some of them even wittily wrought! — and a huge hindrance to my being able to stay in creation mode, in flow, and at peace. Because my penchant for multitasking is so high, I move my business forward on the daily while always knowing what everybody else is up to.

I want to quit that habit.

Breaking up is hard to do.

I’ve been using Twitter for business since 2008 (certainly not the early days of Twitter, but, well, for five years!) and I’ve been on Facebook longer than that. These platforms have changed through the years, but one thing is certain: the inflation of airy ideas and plastic promises into near-religious doctrine (in 140-character homilies) is at an all-time high. (Are you with me?) Not to mention, the ego battles, the link blitzes, the snark fests, the one-sided humor, the political diatribes, etc.

I’m not saying I’m not part of it. I certainly contribute my own biz-promotional tweets to the mix. There’s nothing wrong with any of us using Twitter for business. Heck, if I didn’t have a business, I probably wouldn’t even be on Twitter. (It’s a privacy thing for me. Not so into sharing my personal life over the interwebs. No judgement if you do.)

Now granted, Twitter is quite often a wonderful, validating, ego-supportive place to be.

But is that really so good for a creator, or a teacher, or a consultant, to be petted, praised, and stroked? Are we training our brains to need the ongoing validation, the retweets, and the backchannel high-fives that flow in over DM? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my creative output to hinge one iota on some kind of Pavlovian response.

On a delightful day, of course, I adooooooore Twitter. It’s one of the most fun places in the world for writers. We get to communicate in short, poem-like bursts of concrete ideas. We get to practice our dialogue-writing skills. We get to experience the rush of a first-time share from Somebody Big, the tiny thrill a new @ reply serves up, the internal jazzle of a really good 3-way, 4-way, or 5-way convo with mutual tweeps.

And yet — I have to notice, and admit to myself, and respect, that my MOST productive days are the days I spend the least time on social media. And the weeks when I feel really, really great are weeks when I’m a little social media-lite.

I can’t do Twitter like I’ve been doing it anymore.

And so — I’m making Twitter an easier place for my brain to be.

This week, I embarked on what will likely be a massive unfollow of Tweeps. I’m radically paring down my Home feed so that I only see the kinds of content I feel drawn to engage with, right now, this week.

If I want something different next week, I’ll add more Tweeps. Or delete a few more.

Yes, I know this is why Twitter lists were invented — so that we could segment who we follow into feeds that make better sense to us. Tried it; ultimately, it’s not the solution I’m looking for. Lists just give me one more schema to layer into my schemata. But maybe Twitter lists are a great solution for you.

In doing this massive unfollow, I’m accepting that :

(A) since I’ve been a really friendly, conversational Tweeter, some people may take offense to my unfollow and (A1) unfollow me back if they see following as a reciprocal deal (it’s okay with me if you want to) or (A2) get offended with me (though I hope a social media unfollow doesn’t bum you out that much), and

(B) as a Connector, this may somewhat compromise my ability to . . . connect. Or not. We’ll see. It’s an experiment.

Someone I like a lot challenged me last year to spend 6 months deepening the business relationships I already have rather than intentionally expanding into new relationships. She also challenged me to stop pretending to be an Extrovert because it’s not good for my Introversion. [Ahem.] I can sense that the time for all this is nigh.

Many of the people I’m unfollowing are friends, friendly acquaintances, peers I respect, and clients. Many of the people I’m unfollowing on Twitter are people I look forward to remaining connected with elsewhere (like here or here). Some of the people I’m unfollowing are people with whom I’ve never exchanged Tweet One.

And that’s all right with me. Reducing some of the connectivity that this digital life affords us sounds like just what my soul is ordering. And I’m choosing to listen to my soul, not to the electronic chirp.

Now true connection (as opposed to connectivity) is something I’m still interested in. Tami and I are designing for true connection over on Google+, where we’ve just opened our Voice Bureau Community. If you’re into thoughtful conversation, not just noise, please consider joining us there.

In the comments, I want to hear:

What about you? What do you do (or what will you do, starting now) when social media bums you out — hampers your flow, harshes your mellow, impedes your process? 

photo by: Kerem Tapani
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So you’ve discovered your Voice Values, you’re actively contemplating a rebrand, and you’re focusing on writing for your Right People.

Wouldn’t it be nice to share this experience with other thoughtful types who are doing the same?

Join The Voice Bureau's Community on Google+.Introducing the Voice Bureau’s Google+ Community — a place for deep-thinking business owners to connect and converse.

Tami and I look forward to having a conversation with you.

Please click the image at right to learn more. We’ll see you on G+!

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It’s time.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. ♥

I’m taking a social media holiday hiatus and will be back in the New Year. I’ll be spending this time advancing clients’ end-of-the-year projects, orienting new clients for 2013, and putting the finishing touches on our 2013 service pages.

I won’t be checking Twitter or Facebook, but you might catch me on Pinterest, building our Voice Values boards.

Feel free to contact us through the website in the meantime! We’ll be checking and returning emails per usual, and all client projects are progressing as planned.

Source: babble.com via Abby on Pinterest

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Big news out of InstaGram headquarters: InstaGram, the beloved photo-filtering app for iPhone and Android that was acquired by Facebook earlier in 2012, recently announced a change to its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Horses, taken with Abby Kerr, on InstaGramIf you haven’t heard, here’s the scoop, straight from the horse’s mouth. (By the way, I filtered the photo in this post using InstaGram for iPhone.)

I’m an avid InstaGram user.

I IG something in my life — or someone, or some plate of food, or some landscape — almost every day, often multiple times a day. (Yes, I know that sounds a little ridiculous to all you non-IG users. But I’m not quite this bad.)

I dig InstaGram. A lot.

I follow brands there and I follow people there.

I experience a deeper sense of community — of the type people commonly say they find on Facebook — than I’ve found on any other social media platform.

I like getting tiny, stillshot glimpses into the lives of people I know and care about. I like that the interface is relatively text-light. I like that saying I’m with you is as easy as clicking the ♥ button. (Somehow it feels entirely more intimate than clicking Like on Facebook.)

And yet, my InstaGram account is private and, for the foreseeable future, will remain private.

I don’t IG for business, as a web traffic generating tool. (No judgment on those who do.) I don’t link to my InstaGram account from my social media panel on my site. My account is private, which means people have to send me a Follow request to view any of my photos. And I deny almost all of the Follow requests I get. Unless you and I have had a voice conversation (or two), or we go way back on social media through many, many warm interactions, I probably won’t be clicking Accept.

Why? Because I use InstaGram like a photo diary — one that I care to share only with people I already know in some way.

I snap and filter moments in my life that aren’t business-related. They’re personal. And, to some degree, private. (And yes, — snicker — subject to InstaGram’s Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.)

There are select photos from my InstaGram account that I do share publicly, via Twitter or my business Facebook page. The others? Well — me stirring chocolate batter over a double boiler for no-bake cookies? Is that really all that interesting to someone who was drawn to my brand to learn about brand strategy, copywriting, and voice development? Yep, I hear you — we want to know the person behind the brand. Of course we do! In — I would argue — a composed way. And InstaGram — that’s one little space where I let myself go off-composition.

My interest in InstaGram as a user is that I can maintain the private space there that feels good to me.

And according to InstaGram’s latest articulation of its new terms, this is exactly what I can keep on doing. This is from the article I linked to at the top of the page:

Privacy Settings Nothing has changed about the control you have over who can see your photos. If you set your photos to private, Instagram only shares your photos with the people you’ve approved to follow you. We hope that this simple control makes it easy for everyone to decide what level of privacy makes sense.”

Most of the hubbub I’ve heard in the Twitterverse and blogosphere is around the misconception — at least for now it’s a misconception — that InstaGram has plans to sell our photos for ad spots.

Here’s this, from the same article I linked to above, from co-founder Kevin Systrom:

Advertising on Instagram From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear. . . .

Ownership Rights Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.

So for now, I’m staying put on InstaGram, whose terms really aren’t all that different from its parent company Facebook’s, whose ever-changing Privacy Policy and Terms of Use I find obnoxious, though not aggregious.

After all, whether they yet have sustainable business models or not, these two software platforms don’t exist to foster community — although that’s what they end up doing.

They exist to seek profitability, and they’ll iterate until they figure out what that looks like, and until they find a business model that meets their users’ needs at a core level, so much so that enough of us will gladly “pay” (in some way) to keep interacting with the brand as often as we want to. I don’t fault them. Isn’t that what microbusinesses like yours and mine are doing every day?

For now, I’ll gladly stick with the IG company I keep.

In the comments, I’d love to know:

InstaGram: you jumping ship? Why or why not?

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