Don’t play it safe on social media.
…and really, would it kill you to actually have a picture of your face in your profile? You’re not going to get your identity stolen just because you don’t use a generic cartoon or stock picture of a sunset as your avatar. Really. Relax, dearies, and replace that cute animal avatar with that cute selfie.
Because people appreciate authenticity.
Think about the advice you’d give your friend going on a first date. “Remember, now, never ever let that mask come off so that you seem both 2-dimensional and unattainable at the same time!” No! You’d most likely tell your friend, “Be yourself! Be approachable. Genuine. If the person is right, they will appreciate that and truly understand you better as a whole.” (…Unless you’re a lousy friend, in which case you should probably reevaluate your approach.)
In the same respect, think about the impression you want to make with people who may not know you very well and are probably going to skim through your accounts (twitter, facebook, your blog/tumblr, whatever). We jokingly call it “stalking,” but honestly it’s just leveraging social media to develop a better grasp of who a person truly is. Whether it’s a new follower on twitter or a potential new employer who’s going to be looking you up, embrace the opportunity! Just like you wouldn’t want your darling best friend to show up to their first date with a paper bag over their head and only a pre-approved list of notecards to speak from, you likewise shouldn’t shy away from the opportunity to make an authentic first impression.
Not only should you not just shy away from the chance, but you should actually go the extra mile to make that impression count.
You have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from everyone else and truly convey a vivid, colorful portrayal of who you are–so why not take full advantage? Putting your best foot forward on social media and painting an rich, vibrant picture of yourself is not mutually exclusive–it’s complementary.
My challenge? Go forth and differentiate.
Find a way to use some form of social media professionally–especially Twitter, because I’m biased like that (and also because Facebook is dwindling. More on that later). It sounds scary, but give it a shot! I’m not talking about creating a separate, impersonal account simply for professional use–but rather finding how you can leverage a personal account to truly merge your passion with your profession. When the two come together, it’s a powerful, powerful thing.
P.S. Stay turned for my next post in the Personal Branding series: curation creation! It has a play on words so you know it’s gonna be good.