How to gracefully promote yourself online

I think I may start a series of posts where I digest articles that may (or may not) have some good information in them. This particular article, ‘How to gracefully promote yourself online’ (CNN), sounds like it may have something insightful in it, but you’d be forgiven if you gave up after reading the first eight paragraphs of nothing much.

Allow me to summarise via the medium of bullet points:

  • Test your PR campaign on family and friends first. 
  • Proofread it first though.
  • Only reach out when you have something to say.
  • Be upfront about how often you will send out email.
  • Be ethical with contact information.
  • Make newsletters ‘unboring’.
  • Thank your customers/fans.

Pretty obvious stuff, right? I suppose if you weren’t doing any of these things you might be grateful for the tips, but do you really need to tell people to proofread, thank people and not sell their email addresses? And to “make those e-newsletters unboring”?

At least they got a massive link to their book on CNN.

So how do you gracefully promote yourself online?

It would be interesting to read an article that properly tackles this question. There are too many people offering prizes when they reach Xk followers, or companies offering the chance to win an iPad by spamming your friends with a retweet. And then there’s the companies that monitor Twitter for mentions of their brand to jump into your conversations. All very graceless.

There are certainly people who do it right. Check out @Glinner, @neilhimself, @CharltonBrooker and many others who use Twitter as an interesting and worthwhile person first and foremost, with occasional marketing messages peppered in (usually apologetically).

The real challenge is what to do when you are tweeting because your company has asked you to, or because you have something to sell. Can you tweet like a person when you are constrained by a social media guidelines policy, or just the inability to get angry at anything anyone says to you, ever? Should you follow thousands of people to build up your numbers with low-quality followers? Should you target people you know have influence begging for a retweet? Should you DM your followers with automated welcome messages or promotions?

Some of the answers are obvious, but others are surprisingly difficult. Hopefully those with a financial motivation for participating will figure out more graceful and social methods of self-promotion.



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