Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham and now former pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, stepped down after admitting to an extra-marital affair. This may seem like an odd way to start a blog post about advertising, but it illustrates a very important point that builds on my last blog post about the persona of social media. In it, I stressed the importance of being an actual person as opposed to a business or advertiser. What the news of Tullian really drives home with me is the importance of not simply being a person, but being your own person.
Huh? Well, I think it’s best to explain it in terms of what it does not mean.
Being your own person does not mean you have nothing to learn from other people. As you begin to craft your business’ persona, it is wise to look for examples of businesses that are already doing it well. Find them. Follow them. Engage with them. Even seek them out to arrange offline meetings to learn how they do what they do. Make them your social media mentors.
It also does not mean that the business has to even be your own business. If you are an employee or a paid consultant, you can still think like an entrepreneur and adopt the business as though it were your own. That means not only do you want it to succeed, you also believe in what it is doing and want to share it with people.
Start by finding those characteristics about the business and its people that you like and that resonate with you. By forming those connections yourself, you are not only internalizing the message and persona of the business, you are preparing to create those same connections with others on social media. This approach will blend your voice with the characteristics of the business and the result will be authenticity. People can sense a phony, and once they do, they tune them out.
Finally, being your own person means learning from others without relying on them or defining yourself in relation to them. Tullian, like every other person anyone chooses to learn from, is just a man. Being inspirational and having the ability to connect with people are desirable traits, but that is all they are. They do not define the man, nor do they define you. So yes, by all means seek out people who can teach you things and learn all that you can from them. But do not, for one second, think that those things are the full measure of a man any more than his failings are.
Social media engagement and social media advertising are not exact sciences. There is a tremendous amount of trial and error involved and the process never stops. The good news is, being a person is also far from an exact science, so building a business’ persona is as well. Furthermore, your competition has to undertake the same process. They, and those you look to as mentors, will get things right and they will fail. So will you. Learn from it all and your business persona will develop, and strengthen, right along with you.