Toot Your Own Horn… at Your Own Risk

By Skip Lineberg

Seen recently on social media networks (editorial comments not seen but likely thought by thousands of viewers):

“I’m being interviewed on Channel 8 News tonight!” (Yayyy for you! Aren’t you a bigshot? And I should care because ….?)

“John Doe says you like John Doe. Click here to become a Fan of John Doe.” (How presumptuous and arrogant!)

“Be sure to come to our event.” (What’s in it for me?)

If you are constantly telling the world how great you are … or how important you think your stuff is … what does that make you?  At the least it makes you a noisy and borderline-annoying chatterbox.

That creates a real quandary, though, doesn’t it? We all want to leverage the power of social media to brand ourselves, yet no one wants to become THAT annoying person.

How do we remain humble and stay relevant while communicating self-related content, news and accolades?

There’s a subtle, simple solution: get others to say it for you. It is far more credible and powerful when someone in your social network touts your expertise or spreads the news of your latest award or accolade. Referrals and testimonials are two of the most powerful tools in marketing. They’re just as powerful in the personal branding arena as they are in commercial or retail marketing.

When it comes to the mechanics of getting third-party assistance, there are two ways to go about it. The indirect method follows the Golden Rule of Social Networking: Tweet, comment, Like and favorite unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Simply put, what comes around goes around; so if you lead by touting and publicizing others, they will reciprocate. Note: this takes time and is not an immediate tactic… so start today!

The direct route involves coming out and asking a trusted friend within your social network to communicate on your behalf. This works if you do it sparingly. I have a half-dozen Friends and Tweeps with whom I am able to make such requests (very infrequently) and from whom I am always happy to receive similar requests (periodically). When I have important news to spread, or when I want to promote an event or a website, I’ll send a link to one of them along with a courteous request. “Would you mind to Tweet this event out for me?” Or, “Could you pop up a short blog post with a link to this news clip?”

Now, let’s re-imagine our opening examples … having originated from third-party sources:

“Can’t wait to see John Doe on Channel 8 News tonight! Tune in at 6:30 if you happen to be in front of the tube.”

“The new John Doe Fanpage is excellent. Check it out if you’re looking for some great info, ideas and entertainment options.”

“I’m really looking forward to the John Doe event next Thursday. Will you be there too?

Refreshing, isn’t it?

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