Sometimes there is value in cleverness. Even if you run a business not usually associated with showing its personality, there can be a usefulness in making sure that something about yourself – or your company – shines through. It’s the reason that social media is considered a big part of any new business. Social media allows you to build relationships with clients and potential clients, and those relationships may bring you future revenue.
However, many companies take this too far. Recently I came across a t-shirt company on Twitter that was shouting profanities at athletes and making their highly partisan political beliefs well known. Yes, they may build relationships with some customers, but they’re also turning off a lot of others, and so their “personality” went too far. They became a person with flaws, not a business with personality. Not even those that use profanity and subscribe to their political affiliations are going to use them as a business, because they lost that degree of professionalism that makes companies successful.
Toeing the Line
So the question becomes how to give your company personality without crossing that line into becoming less than a company. Consider the following:
- Never Take Controversial Sides – Try not to take sides or let your opinion be known about any event or belief that matters. That includes religion, politics, and even news events. You can cheer on your sports team, but even then it’s better not to say negative things about other sports teams, and stay out of any controversial sports issues. If someone can be upset by what you’re saying, it’s best to avoid it.
- Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation are a Must – You also need to make sure you’re running any social media account or blog like it’s a business, because it is. That means that you need to always use as close to excellent spelling, punctuation, and grammar as possible. “It’s the internet” is not an excuse. You run a professional business, so you need to make sure that you’re always as professional as possible.
- Take a Break – Try not to be “all personality, all the time.” Make sure that you’re still running any account or blog like it’s a business. You give announcements on exciting news, post about your industry, etc. Let your personality be something you show only once in a while, so that you show that you’re a professional first and an interesting person second.
- Always Be Positive – You should also always try to be as positive as possible. People love positivity. They love to see that you are happy with life and are likely to bring more happiness into their life. While you can have the occasional funny tweet that gives off a very slight negative vibe, it should still be written in a positive way and be something that makes people smile or think:
I haven’t met anyone that loves their Chihuahua.
— Micah Abraham (@GreatLeapStudio) August 7, 2013
- Assume No One Gets Your Jokes – Before posting any humor, it’s best to assume that no one will get it. That way you can try to figure out what people will see if they don’t think your joke is funny. Sometimes you’ll find that a joke that isn’t seen as funny can be misinterpreted to be something very negative, in which case you may not want to post it. By assuming no one will understand it, you put yourself in the best position to avoid mistakes.
- Reach Out – Finally, remember that personality isn’t something you always show by what you say, but also how you treat others. You don’t have to worry about clever jokes or funny blog posts to attract clients. Instead, you can build great relationships by simply responding to what other people say with helpful information, tips, or the occasional joke. You show that you have personality without any chance of making a mistake in how you do it.
This is obviously only a very small part of building your online reputation, and chances are I’ll actually add to it in the future because there are new thoughts that come up every day. But the main takeaway is that showing you have a personal side to you is great, but remember that you are a business, not a person, and so maintaining that professional view is also very important.