Social media has become a part of life these days, and it is a platform to have fun with, yes, but also to use to your advantage when you’re building a brand. Never before have budding entrepreneurs been able to have such fast and direct communication with their audience. But it can take on a life of its own, and if you aren’t smart about protecting whatever project you are promoting with it—not to mention your private life—it can lead you somewhere you’d rather not go. So, here are some things to think about when you decide to dip a toe into the social media pool.
How Much Do You Want to Share?
Some people online are open books. Other people can tweet or write a blog, but maintain a little distance from personal issues. Rather than just impulsively dashing off a new post, you should have a little conference with yourself and decide from the beginning how deep you’re willing to go. Do you want to share medical problems? Personal problems? A personal history? Who and what you want your online persona to be is very important. Keeping these guiding questions in the back of your mind will help prevent you from casually crossing your own line.
Get Personal (When it’s Relevant)
I mostly choose to keep my personal life private. But parts of my life relate to my business—and I know my audience wants my opinion when it comes to cleaning, cats, food, housewares, business, and fashion. For the most part, you won’t find me posting family events or personal problems on Instagram (although I do tend to be a bit more open on Instagram Stories). With our baby on the way, things have gotten a bit more personal—take our gender reveal video, photos of how we shared our news with our families, etc. Even so, I am still choosing to keep certain things out of the limelight because I have to decide what is comfortable for me. Would I be OK if my relatives were to read or watch something? That’s usually my gauge.
Be Vague About Your Whereabouts
Many people online will literally post the coordinates of where they live or visit daily. To me, that feels invasive. I don’t post location tags when I’m out and about in my neighborhood. When traveling, sure, I’ll do it from time to time, but at my local grocery store or out for a walk, no way. If I bump into a reader or fan at a restaurant, I’m of course more than happy to chat. But I don’t need to let thousands of people know my specific whereabouts at all times, thank you.
Take Loved Ones Into Account
Chad and I have an unspoken understanding about the kinds of things we both go public with on social media. We knew we wouldn’t share news about my pregnancy until I was safely into the second trimester, for example. But when one of us is going to post something that involves the other person, we talk about it before it goes up. If it’s something personal or big, we absolutely check in with each other out of respect and to make sure we’re on the same page. It goes beyond your spouse or partner, too. Sometimes, when I am out with friends, I’ll say, “I might post this, is that okay?” I have to be mindful of that—not everyone wants to be seen by thousands of people.
Sweat The Small Stuff
There was one time Chad was on Twitter on his phone around the American election, scrolling through something, and accidentally “liked” a tweet that referenced a controversial policy. It really pissed our Twitter followers off. We heard about it and had to put an apology out. We stay out of politics publicly, but that simple accidental brush of a thumb showed us very quickly how people can react in a big way.
Once you’ve developed an online persona or brand, you don’t have the luxury of just casually “liking” or commenting on anything—even accidentally! Be mindful of everything you say and do; one small comment about a divisive issue can lose you a brand deal or a group of followers. So be very careful and deliberate with your online actions.
Expect That People Will Sometimes Cross Boundaries
Before I announced I was pregnant, people started commenting about it on the Clean My Space channels. There were comments about literally everything from the way my body looked to my hair. This stuff is so personal, and I wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. The truth is, if you have a public persona, people are going to go there, even if you wish they wouldn’t. Look, I’m a real person, with a job, a life, and a family. I have my own struggles and feelings. It can be upsetting. And yet, I get it. Frankly, I’m always fascinated by someone who I follow who appears to be going through a big life event.
The online chatter can feel like a violation of privacy. And it can make someone feel bad inadvertently. To someone developing a public persona, I would say, be prepared for it, and carefully consider how you will choose to respond. We chose to mostly ignore it until we were ready. And then when the time felt right we told people.
There is a lot to consider when going public. We have learned that like our home, we (try!) to keep things as clean as we can. It suits us and our mission best. While it might lack the blatant “putting everything out there” approach that some more dramatic online personalities use, our way feels comfortable for us; we have found our voice. We know who we are, how we act and react, and what we wish to put out for the world to see. So far, so good.