Last weekend, I took a big trip. I’d been invited on a FAM trip to Vernon (for my other blog), and the drive was about 4 ½ hours.
In preparation for this drive, I made sure Chica (my new-to-me- 2006 Kia Rio) had been tuned up, and I had a new stereo installed in her so I could listen to podcasts from my phone. I then downloaded the 15 episodes of the Social Media Examiner podcast I had yet to catch up on (and a few more) and hit the road.
One of the podcasts was an interview with Seth Godin. Now, I’m pretty sure you know who Seth is. He is one of the leaders and one of the heroes of my Social Media Marketing world. Author of 22 books and a daily blog, he travels the world speaking (I had the privilege of seeing him live last year). Godin is one of my heroes, because in his heart, he’s an artist, and I can identify with that. His philosophies around marketing match my own, and every time I hear him speak, I feel incredibly inspired. I was literally in tears listening to this podcast, and that’s not something that normally happens.
So, I thought I’d pull together 5 of my favourite quotes from Seth Godin, and hope that you feel inspired, as well.
Strive for perfection? Hogwash. Especially when it comes to social media.
I feel like there are a bunch of folks out there that are trying desperately to create a brand for themselves that says “I am successful!” “I have an amazing life!” They carefully curate their social media content to that they show us only the best, the most fabulous parts of their lives, but the sad realities are never revealed.
I understand why. For someone like me, who is self-employed, too much information could easily kill a potential relationship with a client. If I come across on my social media as, say, unstable, it’s possible someone won’t want to work with me, because they will be afraid that, if they hire me, I might not be able to come through on my commitments to them. So I want to come across as responsible, competent, and, of course, successful.
As human beings, our bullshit detectors are finely tuned. Portray yourself as nothing but perfect, and you’ll find people will start to become skeptical.
Case in point: Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s been in the news a lot this past couple of weeks, because Mario Butali challenged her to take the Welfare Challenge (note: speaking of imperfection, she did write this after the fact). Now, if you’ve ever been on GOOP, you’ll know what I mean by perfection. Everything on that site is perfect, polished, expensive, and styled to within an inch of its life. In other words, I have nothing in common with the person in charge of that site. There is almost nothing on that site that falls within my price range, and even if I could afford it, I don’t really live the lifestyle that would support me wearing a pair of white, pleat-front shorts. Please understand; I’m not mocking Gwyneth. I’m just saying we don’t live in the same worlds. At all. And that feeling creates distance, maybe even animosity.
A different celebrity with whom I do not share a world is Tyra Banks. But I have very different feelings towards TyTy. Despite the fact that she is a model and actress (Harvard Graduate and entrepreneur), and lives in LA, and again, we have very little, if anything in common, I have a kind of fondness for Ms. Banks. Why? Her Instagram feed in particular, an her social media in general, gives the impression of a gal with some quirks. You’ll see her being silly, posting no-makeup selfies, generally being self-depreciating and poking fun at herself. Not all the time. But sometimes. Enough to make us all feel that a real person lives there behind the camera. Does she probably swan around in expensive clothes I could never afford doing things like hosting the Daytime Emmys? Sure. But she seems so much more accessible to me.
Here’s the thing: to err is human. When we allow people in, allow them to see our imperfection in social media (and in life, generally), it creates a bond. Ugh. Yes. I have also on my camera or phone photos of myself that are not “perfect.” Just like Tyty. But we can laugh at it together, because… that’s life. That’s reality.
Showing vulnerability creates trust. It creates a connection with another human being. And we want to do business with people we know, like and trust. Simple.
One last example. Love him or hate him (and I feel like most people fall into one of those polarized camps), Gary Vaynerchuck is a master at this stuff. He’s a smart, smart dude. He’s running a giant empire, travelling all over the world, making deals, doing speaking engagements, writing books. But you have to see his snapchat (username: GaryVayner). He creates daily short video updates that are not edited in any way, and are simply little slices of his life. He’ll talk about his day, how much he sucks at basketball, meetings, just basically whatever’s going on. It gives the impression that he’s just a regular guy, someone you could easily go for a beer (probably a glass of wine, actually) with.
Feels like this “Imperfection in Social Media ” movement is where it’s at right now, and I, for one, am all for it. It creates a connection, and that’s a good thing.
The challenge, of course, is knowing where to stop. How much is too much? I can’t answer that. It’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself, based on your own levels of comfort, and your business and personal brand. But I want to encourage you to show your imperfections a littel little more today.
The other day, my friend Raj made a big announcement on her Facebook. She has recently been selected as a P&G Mom. What this means is, over the next year, she’ll be getting tons of free products from Proctor and Gamble, and she’ll be writing about them on her blog and instagramming and the like.
Now, I will admit, when she first told me about this, I felt a twinge of jealousy. I mean, what a cool gig! I would love to get a ton of free stuff like that. I had a clear case of Facebook Envy. But. But… here’s the thing: I know how hard Raj works all the time to create outstanding content for her blog, and I also know that she’s a great fit for P&G’s brand, whereas I am not.
So, I’m super happy for her, but I think we all have those moments where we see someone has gotten a new gizmo or toy or is eating at a new restaurant we were dying to try, or is taking a wonderful trip, and we feel that twinge of jealousy. “Wow. I wish I could do/have/see that,” you think.
I recently read this article about a study that was done at the University of Missouri. Margaret Duffy, a professor and chair of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism, did a survey of a bunch of Facebook users, and she and her research partner found that some of those who engage in “surveillance use” of Facebook also experience symptoms of depression while those who use the site simply to stay connected do not suffer negative effects.
They go on to define “surveillance use:” when users browse the website to see how their friends are doing compared with their own lives (read the entire article here).
Facebook is a wonderful tool. I love how it keeps me in touch with peeps I don’t see all that often. But it can also be dangerous if you let it have too much power.
When I’ve gone through a breakup in the past, I’ve often had conversations with my ex- about whether or not we should remain connected through social media. My policy is to cut off all communication, especially on Facebook. This is not for any other reason than the fact that I don’t want to be tempted to “stalk” that person. It’s easy enough to do… and it can lead to crazymaking. “Oh, that’s a pretty girl in that photo with him. I wonder if he’s dating her?” See? Crazymaking.
Don’t make yourself crazy!
How to Combat Facebook Envy
1. Keep things in perspective. Realize that most people on FB are posting what they want you to see, not what the reality is. I have bad days sometimes. I have been through some horrible, dark times. I don’t post about that stuff on Facebook. I only choose to post the upbeat, good things that happen to me. That doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen, I just choose not to share those, and I think a lot of people feel similarly. So take things that people say on FB with a (sometimes really, really large) grain of salt.
2. Remember Karma. Whenever I see someone on FB posting about something wonderful that’s happened to them, I try to remember something good that’s happened to me, lately. Yes, sometimes good things happen to my friends, and that’s a good thing! I’m happy for them. But good things happen to me, too, and it’s important to remember, acknowledge, and feel grateful for those things. They will go a long way towards ameliorating your feelings of jealousy.
3. Take a break. Seriously. Go cold turkey. Digital detox. Just get your head out of the game for a while, and I think when you come back, you’ll feel like you have a bit more perspective on Facebookland.
4. Don’t compare. Just don’t. You are a unique individual, and you have strengths and weaknesses, the same as everyone else. When you don’t see other’s weaknesses, it’s easy to forget about them, and focus on your own. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone messes up sometimes. Be gentle with yourself.
What advice does Duffy and her team give?
Users should be self-aware that positive self-presentation is an important motivation in using social media, so it is to be expected that many users would only post positive things about themselves. This self-awareness, hopefully, can lessen feelings of envy.
Now, get out there and be as fabulous as your Facebook life would have you to be!