For most of us the thought of sharing your personal life via the Internet is horrifying but for the panelists of Monday night’s “Sex, Politics and Social Media”, that is certainly not the case.
Shana Glickfield, founding partner of Beekeeper Group; Stef Woods, relationship, sex and dating blogger of City Girl Blogs; and James Norton, DC’s dating coach and founder of the Awesome Institution, have discovered the fine line between personal and professional.
Shana was studying law and working for a public affairs firm when she started her social blog about going out in DC. One day her boss took her aside. She frantically worried that she was going to be fired, but instead her boss surprised her by admitting his admiration for her blog. So she continued to put herself out there publicly and share her passion for the city.
Stef described herself as always being comfortable with her sexuality, but because she was in law school she started her blog anonymously, focusing on relationships and sex. Seeing that her blog was such a success, but realizing how small of a world this is (especially DC), she quit law school and publicly announced her blog.
James was working for a law firm but had started a men’s underground group to discuss their dating tactics and how they could improve. His boss was a little wary of the idea at first, but learned to embrace James’ business.
Each quickly learned how to balance their professional and personal worlds. Shana actually refers to the hybrid as “profersonal.” The three panelists emphasized that the content has to agree with your audience, whether it is your coworkers, friends or family, and you have to know what they want to hear. James believes it’s all about connections and brand management because however you deal with you is how people will see you. You are developing a brand of you.
If you are interested in starting your own blog, the three gurus offered this advice
- Pick a niche that you’re interested in and have a passion for. What makes you awesome? What moves you? Find your passion, then make connections.
- State your interests, topics and personal tidbits from the beginning so that your fans aren’t ever blindsided.
- Do your research. Research others’ profiles to discover what you like and don’t like to see.
- Be your own cheerleader. Naturally, people are hard on themselves, but in your own business you must develop a thick skin and be confident.
Now when it comes to damage control or recovery, Shana reminds us that mistakes happen and everyone makes them. Stef’s advice is to own it. Be authentic; it’s part of your personality. James believes mistakes can be good for you. He says you need to go out and fail, because if you see where you fail then you will understand where you can succeed.
In the process of not just mistakes, but in everyday blogging, you will have haters, but you just have to develop that thick skin. Shana said people are much more nasty when under the veil of the Internet, and she and Stef advised that we don’t have to engage with haters, but do need to acknowledge them. All they want is to be heard.
When it comes to sharing your personal relationships online, look no further! These three have found the balance of when, how and where to share their personal information. There’s a particular balance and Stef found hers by not blogging about her relationships anymore, but instead by using Twitter to express that topic. Although, when she did blog about her relationships, she didn’t blog in real time. The lull time helped her develop her stories and build up excitement for her readers. Before Twitter, that was the balance that worked for her. James suggests just to be authentic in who you are and be the image you have set up for your readers. Your social media life should reflect your real life.
Is it smart to have a presence on all social media networks? Yes, if social media is your area of work then you need to know what the next best thing is and how to use it. However, if you’re not on everything, Stef says you should stand behind your reason and defend your choice not to use that tool.
Near the end of the event, a question was asked regarding the Facebook timeline. Shana made an interesting point – that we really don’t know the lifecycle of social media yet. She believes Facebook was initially attractive because of its simplicity, but has lost a lot of that lately.
So will people adopt these changes or want something different? Social media hasn’t been around long enough for us to know what people really like and what they don’t like. Facebook is widely popular now, but who knows when the next best thing will pop up?
We just don’t know.
Written by Anna Steely, an official Social Media Week DC blogger. Follow her at @ALSteely.