I ask because we’re getting mixed messages out there.
First, you’re told; “Don’t talk about yourself, focus primarily on the needs of your readers and what’s on their minds.”
Then you hear; “You need to tell your story, share more about yourself and your life so you can build rapport with your readers.”
So which is it?
Building an online business is all about finding a hungry crowd and serving up what they’re searching for. And it’s also about reaching out and making personal connections and building relationships. That requires a liberal dose of you, or in this case, me.
So how do the socially awkward connect online? How much do we have to talk about ourselves, really?
And what about the socially adept among us? Can these folks talk about themselves too much?
Are there any rules for this sort of thing?
The Rules for Talking About Yourself Online
Most of us doing business online have two main tasks: write short, regular blasts for social media like Twitter and Facebook; and write blog posts and articles for our sites and others.
Let’s look at the requirements for communicating successfully in both forums.
Social Media – Talking ‘As’ Yourself
I think of your site as the home base, the place you bring friends for intimate chats around the fireplace. If your site is the front room of your home, then social media is the backyard, where you entertain friends.
You may be your own product, or your topic may reflect your interests and passions.
But when posting on the social media, what you write about is not about you.
Instead, you focus on your reader’s needs.
Social Media “Scientist” Dan Zarella believes so strongly in this philosophy, he sells a t-shirt that reads: “Stop talking about yourself.”
Dan sums it up beautifully in a blog post:
Imagine yourself at a networking event or cocktail party. You’re talking to a handful of people, and one guy is only talking about himself. Is he your favorite person to converse with? On the other hand there’s another guy who’s talking about you, your needs and your experiences. Which would you rather talk to?
Social media is a cocktail party, nobody wants to listen to you talk about yourself all day.
So stop talking about yourself, it’s boring and nobody wants to hear it. But start talking as yourself and show us how the world looks through your eyes.
Dan is writing about social marketing sites like Facebook. He suggests you talk not “about” yourself, but talk “as” yourself. What about your own website, where you are tasked to develop a personal relationship while serving your readers?
Are the “rules” different for your own website?
Blog Writing – Talking ‘About’ Yourself
This is where it can get tricky.
“Talk about yourself,” the experts tell you. “You have to forge a relationship with your readers, tell stories, relate common, universal truths by relating your own life stories.”
Yet in official marketing school it was pounded into me that you always focus on the primary needs of your audience: “you” disappear.
How do you connect and personalize your writing while also engaging your readers?
To help keep me focused on my writing, I made up a rule for this, See what you think:
If your story intersects with your reader’s most pressing needs, then tell it.
If your knowledge intersects with their needs, then share it.
When I talk about myself in some of my posts, my stories most likely rarely intersect with your most pressing needs – and yet I share those stories in an effort to become more “three dimensional” to those of you who don’t know me.
I guess that would be a third rule.
And when you’re writing in a more personal medium, that’s one of the keys. You’ve got to connect, as long as you surround those personal stories with information the reader wants and needs to know.
Now, in other formats, obviously, some of the more personal stories might not be as appropriate. Like, say on a Fortune 500 blog for lawyers or something.
The You to Me Ratio
Perry Marshall has a great formula he calls the “You to Me ratio.” He writes:
In copy, you should always talk about your reader (“You” – “Your”) more than you talk about yourself (“I” – “me” – “my” – “we” ). 1.5:1 is good. More is even better.
It’s much easier to listen to somebody who’s talking about YOU than somebody who constantly talks about themselves. It’s more fun and it’s less work.
Over to You . . .
Do you find it easy – or difficult – to talk about yourself in your writing?
Does this come naturally to you, or has it been a struggle?