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We’ve all been there — you’re having a conversation with someone and maybe divulged too much. The story about how all your family is crazy and then you go into a huge, cringe-worthy monologue about all the reasons why, when they were already convinced after the first story or two. I’ve been there.
We know that the secret to telling a great story is living one (it’s my motto!), and we also know that it’s important to storytell to sell. It’s also one of the most powerful things you can do to brand yourself and your business.
At what point is storytelling oversharing in business, though?
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of getting to meet Pat Flynn, who is notorious for sharing his monthly income statements. John Lee Dumas is also famous for sharing these. Seeing income statements at their level of business inspires many, and turns off others as bragging.
I’m in the former camp — I love when people share their monthly income statements! If I’m going to hire a business coach or mentor, I prefer to have proof of their financial success. Pat and John have made a name for themselves by doing this — it’s become part of their brand.
To rock or not rock?
Some marketers love to rock the boat. In fact, just last night I was scrolling through my newsfeed when a friend was dragging another coach through the mud — sharing their name and everything. The inner peacemaker in me cringed — yikes, that’s something I’d never share publicly!
Similarly, some people would never be as transparent as I am about my history of drug addiction, sex trafficking, teen pregnancy, abusive marriage, obesity struggles, parenting a child with SPD, and more. Some of you are probably recoiling just reading that, and that’s okay!
It took me a really long time to figure out that keeping my deeply personal stories of heartache and trauma to myself serves no one. I distinctly remember the first time that I shared my 123 LB weight loss transformation: I didn’t want people to see how bad things had gotten for me in just a couple years’ time. I threw up my before/after picture on social media, and quickly signed out. I panicked signing back in to see the damage I’d done.
To my surprise, there were over 400 likes, almost as many comments, and lots of shares on the transformation picture. All kinds of people were coming out of the woodwork to cheer me on and to ask me for help. My business completely transformed that day.
Because I was transparent, I was much more authentic than someone who didn’t have a story and were only sharing about a product.
You can choose what you keep private to avoid oversharing in business
The internet is forever. Anything can be captured, saved, and used against you in the future. I know, because it happened to me at the height of my depression. An alleged best friend printed out my entire Facebook post history over several years for my abusive ex-husband to use against me during our divorce and custody battle.
The same thing can happen in business, where there could be significant financial impact. An overshare about a client could land you in court if you aren’t careful.
On Facebook, you have a personal profile as well as an opportunity to create a business page. I definitely suggest having both, as it’s technically against Facebook’s Terms of Service to conduct business via your personal profile.
Because I’ve been in business for nine years, inevitably people I know in business have migrated to my personal profile. I’m maxed out at 5,000 on my friends list, and have 2,000 followers just on the personal profile. This pales in comparison to the almost 60,000 followers I’ve got on my business page.
When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you’re saying it to. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you add can help maintain privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.
Because I want to surround myself with positive, uplifting people, I tend to keep my own posts pretty curated.
While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.
So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.
The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. If you’re not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they won’t be comfortable hearing about it, either. It’s okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.
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