Self promotion WITHOUT crossing the line into douchebaggery

Self promotion without being a douchebag

It’s a fine line, isn’t it?

The topic cropped up at work the other day – how some people successfully build a profile without coming across as total asshats. Figures who seem to do it naturally and almost effortlessly. Who are almost universally liked and seem genuinely lovely.

I have a few thoughts on this:

Twitter is where it’s at

Seriously. You cannot deny the power of Twitter in the age of brand-building. Funnily enough, many of the earlier adopters and self-style social media gurus (at least from an NZ perspective) have now more or less disappeared from Twitter entirely.

More shallowly, that TV confers legitimacy

TV is still sort of the lowest common denominator. And there’s the glamour factor. Everybody I know who has appeared on telly can tell you that everyone comments on it. TV, so freely and widely accessible, reaches people you wouldn’t expect.

Very rarely does anyone ever say they saw something I wrote online. On the other hand, dear biddies such as my mother’s friends have seen my byline in the newspaper and taken notice. And when a news camera once panned over a media scrum, a crowd of which I was part of, amazingly, an acquaintance of mine noticed my split second of fame and immediately sent me a message about it.

Selflessness, humility and humour goes a long way

Being good at self-promotion, without being a douchebag, inherently involves conversing with others and generally being a good bugger about it. Having a personality that shines through, consistently. Doing it the right way means building high awareness without hitting oversaturation. Being in relevant media, yet not quoted everywhere you look.

Being articulate, and ideally, quick off the mark

Twitter is great for those who can come up with witty quips. There’s a lot to be said for being concise and quick of tongue (and typing fingers). But being able to write well in longer form is invaluable. There’s a lot of money (and profile building) to be had in speaking/MCing at events, but cultivating your own content today is so easy to do, you’d be foolish not to, be it regular columns, reviews, or your own blogs or books.

On that note, I’m constantly dismayed at how many businesses in New Zealand fail at content marketing. Intellectually, I get it. They’re corporates. They don’t understand editorial.

Ask yourself: Would I want to read this? Are we only ever talking about ourselves on [insert any social network of your choice] ? Does every blog post end with a sales pitch?

If the answer to any of the above is no, then pass Go, do not collect $200, and start again.

On another, slightly related tangent, the new Advertising Standard Authority rules here are interesting, particularly the guideline that people who are paid to tweet should mark their tweets with the hashtag #ad.

I’ve done some sponsored tweets through Mylikes in the past on my blog Twitter account – tweets where you are paid per click, sometimes based on location.

When that first began, those tweets (sent directly from their site using their Twitter interface system) used to be unmarked, but today I think they are automatically appended with (spon) at the end, and you don’t have the option to remove it.

But what about tweets that are not strictly paid for? As part of my job I go to my fair share of PR events. At a recent lunch I instagrammed and tweeted pics of the lunch, and used their designated hashtag. I wasn’t compensated for that. I did it because the food was amazing and I wanted to share it of my own accord, and as they were sufficiently up with the play to have organised a hashtag, it was no trouble to use it. I would do the same if I was eating out on my own dime (I’m one of THOSE annoying instagram users), and I’d usually make the effort to @ the restaurant if they’re on Twitter.

Or for example at TedX Auckland recently, I queued up for my free drink at the coffee stall, which was sponsored by Kordia. I tweeted a pic of my cup (complete with logo), because I was genuinely impressed with the freebie hot chocolate. Plus, events live and die by sponsorship and I figured I’d do my bit by helping plug one of the supporting companies.

What’s your take on the commercialising of social media? Who do you admire for building a public profile from the ground up, and why?

11 thoughts on “Self promotion WITHOUT crossing the line into douchebaggery

  • Reply Veronica Hill November 20, 2012 at 12:05

    Would you say that the number of twitter followers is equally important as the quality of followers? I see some bloggers with 10-20 thousand twitter followers but their posts seem to have 10-15 retweets, while others have maybe 200-600 followers and get an equal amount of sharing. What’s your take on this?

    • Reply eemusings November 20, 2012 at 12:12

      I’d say there are hardly any hard/fast rules in social media. That said, quality trumps quantity pretty much every time. Having a lot of followers is great, but if they’re mostly spammers/barely active and hardly ever actually use Twitter/don’t tend to read your links/don’t engage or reshare, then what’s that really worth? Those stats might look impressive from the outside or to advertisers, but as you say, that doesn’t make a community. And that’s definitely evident with the latest Facebook Edgerank changes.

  • Reply Yakezie (@Yakezie) November 20, 2012 at 17:30

    Effective self promotion is definitely a fine line for sure. Self-deprecation is important, and something I need to do more of as I’m sure I come off as arrogant to some on Financial Samurai. The problem is, “You Will Always Be Perceived As Arrogant If You Have More.” It’s a post I wrote on the topic.

    Doesn’t matter what you do or so, you will not be liked by some. Hence, best to just focus on what you can control and continue doing what’s right that is bringing you progress!


  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) November 20, 2012 at 18:41

    Self branding and self promotion are definitely something I became aware of when I started at my job and started my blog for that matter. It’s a tricky thing, because honestly there are some people out there I feel come off as douchey but others don’t, so sometimes it comes down to personal taste. Twitter is amazing I completely agree. It wasn’t until I really started conversing with other people on Twitter that I realized how effective it can be as a social media tool. Great post. And I just noticed while reading you post that that little worm on the hook would follow me as I scrolled down, and I frickin’ love it!

  • Reply Amanda November 21, 2012 at 00:23

    This is something that I’ve not had to deal with thaaat much yet, being still a student and not in full-time employment. That being said, as I make moolah by gigs either teaching, playing or more often, photographing, I guess the “self brand” thing kicks in a little. Every time I blog and tweet these days, I wonder how many people I know IRL might glance at it, or the fact that future employers will have these sources at their fingertips if they wanted to do some background research on me. All of this makes me reaaaally uncomfortable.

  • Reply Gillian November 21, 2012 at 03:29

    It is a very fine like to not be over the top and seem not genuine. I think that having ad tags on Twitter would help for people to distinguish between personal opinion and paid sponsorships.

  • Reply Miss T (@prairieecothrif) November 21, 2012 at 04:28

    I try to be social and keep networked. I find this is a subtle way of promoting yourself while still maintaining good relationships. It seems to have worked for me. I find in my line of work, social media isn’t yet an advantage and hasn’t caught on yet. I still have to do things manually.

  • Reply TB at BlueCollarWorkman November 21, 2012 at 04:47

    I agree on humor being really important in tweeting and blogging. It takes serious things and brings them down a notch. And when you’re doing self promotion stuff, if you’re open and humorous about it, peopel seem to appreciate that. P.S. The little worm on a hook thing on the left side of your page is freaking cool.

  • Reply Budget & the Beach November 21, 2012 at 13:36

    ha ha! I agree it’s a fine line. I get embarrassed if I send out too many tweets promoting a post. I sometimes think people will be annoyed. There are some self-help gurus who I used to follow who I had to unfollow because I was getting so many of their messages I wanted to scream. I guess when you get “big” you inevitably experience some kind of backlash.

  • Reply cevanisk November 22, 2012 at 01:00

    hello. I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a little while and this is the first time I am seeing your new site. I absolutely love it! very cool.
    I think this is the area i struggle with the most for sure. I’ve always had a hard time selling myself or anything really, but without that skill its tough to make it.

  • Reply Pauline November 25, 2012 at 08:00

    It is a very fine line, but with modesty and friendliness, you should get by. If you are able to show that you deserve your success, that it took hard work, that you are no different from others but just worked a lot, people should like you and talk about you and what you accomplished.

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