Overcoming social media stage-fright

Blogging, PR, Social Media — By on December 4, 2009 9:38 am

Stage-fright

So, you’re convinced
of the benefits of social media. You’ve read the endless blog posts,
emails, newsletters, case studies and even books about it. The theory
is all there, but somehow, when it comes to actually drafting a post or
recording a video, you just can’t do it.

Don’t worry – it’s
perfectly normal to be concerned whether what you have to say is
interesting, up-to-date, or correct. Submitting our ideas to scrutiny
ranks right there alongside public speaking for some. Fear of ridicule,
vitriol or just plain obscurity is rational, understandable and
frequent. Plus in ‘meatspace’ if you’re a little shy until you get to
know people, then why wouldn’t you be reticent in sharing your views
online?

Well guess what? Perhaps you’re right. And yet millions of others have overcome this fear. Here are a few things to to help you overcome social media stage-fright:

Convincing yourself it’s fine

1.
You’re more interesting than you think
– when things are familiar, we
tend to forget how interesting they are. Most people probably aren’t
exposed to all the fascinating experiences you have every day, so share
them.

2. If you’re not interesting, no-one will care – they’ll
just move on. There is lots of great content, so if yours turns out to
be banal, the worst that will happen is you’ll be ignored. You won’t be
vilified, you’ll be overlooked. Wasted effort, perhaps dented pride,
but no lasting damage.

3. Most people don’t comment – only a small percentage of people say anything. Most of us are consumers not contributors.

4. Most commenters are people just like you - and so will say something rational, fair and helpful.

5. Some commenters are trolls – and will craptalk you regardless of whatever you said. Ignore them.

Minimizing the risk of failure

1.
Start small
– update your Status on your social network once a day.
Just say what you are doing, even if it’s a TV program you are watching
or going to the gym.

2. Comment on someone else’s post – this gives you a chance to air your
views amid the comment stream where it’s less prevalent and won’t be
indexed. Comment anonymously if you must, but get used to contributing
and sharing your views.

3.
Draft a few posts, but don’t publish them
- this will get you used to
the writing style. It’ll also help you compare with other relevant
bloggers. Did they write about the same topics? Were your views aligned
or constructively different?

4. Contribute to a multi-author
blog
– perhaps your company has one with a generic author title. For
instance, my agency has a ‘LEWIS Team’ name for general updates and
infrequent contributors. While I  strongly believe that an opinion
worth having is one you’ll put your name to, the security this provides
will enable you to post and see the response without feeling exposed.

5.
Select a safe topic
- stick to something factual, such as a
news-related post. Don’t offer an opinion, just update your audience on
something they might find relevant. And source the information. You
can’t go far wrong with this.

6. Publish and be damned - like
that tricky email, at some point you just have to hit Send. Put your
tin hat on, stuff the phone directory down your pants and put it out
there. Chances are it’ll fall on deaf ears. I’m sorry but awareness is
earned so it’s likely many people won’t notice your golden prose. But
some will. And then some more the next time. Be patient.

Building confidence

1. Publish, publish, publish – once you’ve got over the initial post, podcast or whatever stage-fright, just keep going.

2.
Get back in the saddle
– at some point you’ll come a cropper. Just like
your father said when you learned to ride a bike, dust yourself down
and get back on quickly.

3. It never truly goes away – so get
used to it. In fact, if you don’t feel some angst when you publish,
you’re probably not pushing yourself enough. Take risks or be ignored.

I hope this helps. If not, please let me down gently ;)


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  • http://profile.typepad.com/cattchat CattChat

    Don’t forget retweeting

  • http://profile.typepad.com/morganmclintic Morgan McLintic

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    Good one! Thanks.

  • http://www.thoughtleadership-guru.blogspot.com rajeev

    Interesting points Morgan makes about overcoming stage fright in starting out on social media.
    I would add the following three points that may not have been thought about…
    1-the biggest thing about these tools is that they allow for 2 way dialogue- which means, be prepared for all kinds of stuff to be written in response to what you write- including spam- which you can remove, negative comments -which you shouldnt remove… in particular, dont remove negative comments- thats a big turnoff
    2- be prepared to be directly active- these tools are not about someone else writing your stuff for you- you have to be much more an author than you perhaps are now…
    3-comment/ write on other people’s stuff- there is an ecosystem out there, and everyone wants comments, feedback etc- not just you- so oblige a few, and they will perhaps oblige you…also this kind of a thing takes a while to build before folks start commenting…
    happy joining the bandwagon…

  • http://profile.typepad.com/morganmclintic Morgan McLintic

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    Thanks Rajeev – I like the point about social media not being being regarded as a way for the community to convey your message for you. You might be able to energize or empower that, but you can't dictate what people will say or the message transmitted.