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How are you using Social Media?

I got to hang out tonight with one of Chicago’s top women in tech, Marcy Capron. Jaren Atchison and I took her and her boyfriend to dinner and spent some time talking about technology, entrepreneurship and WordPress. I’m here, after all, because I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Chicago.

While at dinner, we got onto the topic of our social media accounts – both Twitter and Facebook – because Marcy’s beau doesn’t have them. And Marcy referenced that when clients tell her they read her tweets, she apologizes.

The question of Social Media

This all raises the question, which I’ve never written about on, about the role of social media and our accounts when it comes to managing your personal brand.

But to get to that question I want to first introduce you to a concept that I’m sure I’ve borrowed from someone – I just can’t remember who. It’s the concept of touch points.

Every interaction reinforces or detracts

So if you were to consolidate most of my brand thinking, personal or corporate, it would come down to the concept of touch points. They’re not a difficult thing to grasp. Every interaction people have with a brand is a “touch point.” It’s where they connect, in some way to the brand.

Now before we get into a debate about whether people should have a personal brand or not, know this: it doesn’t matter. Because whether you believe in a personal brand or not, you can agree with me that the sum of your interactions with me shape how you think about me.

That’s what I call touch points.

So every interaction we have is either positive or negative. It either helps reinforce a story or detracts from it.

If I tell you I want to help people, but you watch me interact with new people and all I do is talk about myself – well then those touch points are detracting from the story I was trying to tell, and instead they reinforce a different narrative.

We are all telling stories

Here’s the thing – we’re all telling stories: stories about ourselves, stories about how we got here, stories about where we’re going, and stories about how we’re contributing to the world around us.

The question isn’t whether we’re telling stories. The question is whether our stories are converging on a larger, simpler story, that is easy for people to understand.

If it is, then it makes sense that we should look at social media as a device to help us with our narrative – to both further it and reinforce it.

But if it doesn’t, if all the stories of our lives are all over the place in a random, I don’t care for a single narrative of my life way, then the reality is that we probably don’t care what Twitter or Facebook do for that narrative.

My personal take with social media

I want to help businesses leverage WordPress more effectively and I want to help WordPress businesses be more effective.

I do both of those in my spare time when I’m not doing corporate software development and product management for Emphasys. So clearly, I have a limited amount of time to get those two things done – and I need to be effective with my time.

Because of that, I want every possible story to be shaped in a way that reinforces that narrative. And that means, for me, that I treat Facebook and Twitter as extensions of that story.

So for me, it doesn’t make sense to post things on my FB wall or Twitter pages that distract from that story – even if I have feelings about California taxes. Or Berkeley football or basketball. Or my church, North Coast.

Those are all great, but that’s not how I use my social media channels.

It also shapes the way I interact with people, and even who I follow. And it changes what images I post. And what language I use.

But hear me on this: that’s because of how I’m using social media. Other people use it differently, for other purposes (like having fun, telling funny jokes, passing around cool videos, etc).

In talking with Marcy and her boyfriend, they each had different takes and it led them in different directions – even different from my own. There isn’t a right answer – except what’s right for you based on your own objective.

How are you using social media? What’s it helping you do?

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