Finding the Right Balance of Self Promotion

How do you feel about promoting your business or your brand through your personal networks and social media channels? Do you think it’s appropriate, even vital, for someone to share news about their business or professional accomplishments? Or do you view this as tacky, uninteresting, or even annoying? It’s likely you fall somewhere along this spectrum with the answer “it depends.” We can all think of a few examples of self-promotion done well, and self-promotion that utterly failed to miss the mark. In seeing other triumphs, it makes us feel like we, too, want to shine a light on the good things taking place in our life. But when we see those cringeworthy moments where self-promotion did more harm than good to one’s reputation, we pause with hesitation that we could experience the same result.

Having spent my entire professional career helping organizations and individuals navigate this tightrope of timely and appropriate promotions, I’m confident that what you stand to gain far outweighs anything you stand to lose. But you have to take the right approach. Even the best message will be ignored or dismissed if it’s not packaged appropriately. What does that mean? And how can you learn to “perfectly package” your promotional messages and leverage your personal networks and social media channels to share them? That’s what I’m sharing – so keep scrolling!

Know Your Why

Even more important than what you’re sharing is why you feel the need to share it. Did your business pass a major milestone? Is it impacting the local community or economy in a positive way? Did it receive an award or honor? These are all common instances where you may want to share good news about your business, and specifically your role that contributed to this good news. That’s your what, but what’s your why? There are a lot of acceptable reasons why you might want to promote your business (or yourself) for doing good work. Being proud of what you do is a good thing. But always, always make sure your desire to promote a self-serving message isn’t to put someone else down or you make yourself appear better than a competitor. By knowing your “why” (which is your motive for sharing this news), you’ll be better guided to craft an uplifting and authentic message that is filled with grace and gratitude, rather than an obvious desire to assert dominance and importance.

Leverage the Correct Communications Platform

Now more than ever we have ample communications channels at our disposal, namely our fingertips. Think about who you most want to receive your message. Is it business contacts or family and friends? People who know you personally, or only in a professional setting? Do you want to communicate to the masses or to a select core group? The answer to these questions will guide you toward the best communication channels to spread your message. Rarely is the best answer truly “everywhere” even if it may feel that way. So be realistic and targeted in your approach!

Consider Your Audience – And Outliers

Especially when we think about our social media channels or even our email list, it’s easy to focus on the common majority. But don’t overlook the outliers within your audience who may perceive your message in a different way. The easiest example is to think of your Facebook friends. Sure, you likely have a lot of contacts who share your demographics and psychographics, but then you also have your mom, great aunt, and that neighbor down the road who is on the other end of the political spectrum. Social media audience as a mixing bowl! Not every message, photo, and meme you share needs to be perfectly tailored to each person. That’s not possible or necessary. But when you choose to share a self-promotional message, just be sure to consider how this may come across to your outliers who don’t know you in the same context as many other people in your network. This may help you shape your message in a way that provides a bit more background and clarity, offers a universally uplifting message, and keeps gratitude at the forefront. Trust me, this approach is something both grandpa and your boss’s girlfriend’s cousin can rally behind.

What’s Your Desired Outcome?

Let’s be real. There is always a motive or objective behind any message we share. It could be your newly organized coat closet, or a recent promotion, but we hope to gain something out of sharing this message with our networks. For a self-promotional message that highlights a professional accomplishment, taking a direct approach might be best. Do you want people to check out your website, a job listing, sign up for your blog, or attend an event? Invite them to do so and make the action easy! Provide a link right within your post so the action is merely a click away. Or maybe your intended action is to build brand awareness or lay the groundwork for what could become a future ask. That works too. Consider ending your message of good news with something like “I hope you’ll stay tuned for more exciting announcements to come!” or whatever fits your brand and context. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. So if you’re going to make the effort to promote yourself, don’t go half-way and stop! Prime the pump for your desired outcome.

Check Your Heart and Be Authentic!

And finally, if you find yourself struggling over whether or not you should share news that may be viewed as self-promotional, come back to the heart of the matter. Sleep on it and really consider why you want to share the message, and why you’re feeling hesitant. What’s your heart telling you about it? If you’re hesitant out of a lack of confidence or fear of what other people might think, I suggest you push through and live outside your comfort zone. Confidence comes from doing hard things! But if your hesitation is your conscious telling you something doesn’t feel right and that this message might need an ego check, heed that intuition. Better yet, take it to someone you trust who knows you well. Whatever you ultimately decide, share your message authentically. Use your platform to uplift yourself as well as anyone else deserving of praise. Rarely is it a solo accomplishment! And gratitude looks great on everyone.

What’s your approach to sharing self-promotional messages with your peers? Do you enjoy spreading good news or feel shy about doing so? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

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