Integrating Pieces of You Into Business Blogging

02/08/2007

Call it synergy. Rajesh might say there are no coincidences.

One. Jeneane Sessum invited me to co-lead a non conference session with her about women and social media this Saturday at SoCom 07. Any excuse to play with this cool diva and I'm there in a NYC minute. One of the topics we want to open is integrating your personal and business self into social media be it blog, podcast, vlog or community. Should you?  And if you do, how much of you can you and/or should you give away on a business blog?

Two. Recently I've been thinking more about how far do I take the personal on Diva Marketing. I write about sweet Max. I've even told a story about my grandmother and drop bits and pieces about my background and life. The personal is usually subtle and woven into business stories.

Three. A few weeks ago Divo Lewis Green started a series honoring on people who have served in the armed forces by posting photos. I sent him a couple photos of my dad in uniform with my mom.  I anticipated that the post would include several other photos and was surprised to find Lewis had dedicated an entire post to Lou and Anne Bloomberg .. along with their story. My thoughts were WoW .. my folks are now part of the history of an exciting communication change. Then I thought .. perhaps I should cross post on Diva.

Sidebar: Lewis is looking for more photos.

Four. Rajesh's comment:  Very nice story about your parents Toby. Love to hear more... again turned my thoughts to how much should personal stories be integrated within a business blog.

Five. Tonight I was watching Men In Trees and the showed ended with this line, "Everytime we bite our tongues we know each other a little less." 

Call it synergy. Rajesh might say there are no coincidences.

Mummy_and_dad_and_popsieI would love to share with you the photo and story of my parents Louis and Anne. I know Dad would have loved this medium .. Mom probably not so much so.

The older gentleman is grandfather "Popsie." I think it was taken at the Cocoanut Grove night club in Boston. Probably in 1942.

As our family story goes .. my dad and my mom met on a blind date. Dad proposed that very night. They were married 6-weeks later because of "the war." If two people were ever soul mates it was Lou and Ann.

Although she loved being a mother, she loved being  Lou's wife even more. And he was crazy about her too. I have a lot of the letters that my dad wrote but none that my mom wrote. My mom gave me these letters just before she died and told me that there were many more but she destroyed them because they were too personal. One can only imagine ;-)

To bring it back to branding and social media .. if the heart of social media, as a marketing tactic, is developing relationships. Then letting people into some of your personal life should be okay.

So .. how does the personal self fit into a business blog? I suppose the first question to ask is, "How comfortable are you with giving away pieces of you in the context of a business blog?" 

The next important question to ask is, "How far do your readers want you to go in that direction?"

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Comments

This is something I wrestle with as well, Toby. A blogger I read recently (and ironically can't remember at the moment) wrote something like "I don't subscribe to blogs, I subscribe to people."

I know I enjoy getting little tidbits of information about my favorite bloggers' personal lives, but there are very few blogs I read for that reason. As long as the content doesn't turn into a personal diary, I'm fine with that.

When I started blogging, I was very protective of my personal life, but over time I have let more of myself come through. But I always try to relate my personal stories back to a marketing point or a larger lesson. I think sharing information about myself as a person gives more credibility to my words and helps me to build a relationship with my readers and foster community. But sometimes it's not clear where to draw the line between personal and professional.

Great story about your parents, by the way. :-)

Posted by: Nedra Weinreich on Feb 9, 2007 3:48:07 AM

Thanks Toby. Nice post.

I always try to remember that there are people sitting at the other end of the computers reading my site/blog. What I want to connnect with are those people. Show a bit of who I am makes it that much more easy.

Posted by: Dawud Miracle on Feb 9, 2007 9:08:36 AM

Toby,

Thanks for the shout out and for asking a great question.

For me, in honoring veterans I want to share the human faces behind the serious business of defending a people and their nation. And in everything I do, I make it part of my business structure to give back. This is one way I can do that.

I also take time in my blog to use personal stories to highlight our humanness, which has a great impact on our businesses and our customers' experiences.

So I do stray from the primary purpose of publishing a business blog by posting stories that have little to do with day-to-day issues and concerns. Why?

In addition to the reasons above, I think every blog and blogger, like every business and CEO, builds credibility and trust by revealing pieces of themselves. And without credibility and trust, there is no business.

A side note: You are great and I am honored to call you a friend.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Feb 9, 2007 10:05:12 AM

I agree with y'all .. the "pieces of self" that you give away are what opens the door to trust and relations. Seems like we're coming to similar terms with this issue. Each of us will have to determine the "how much" for ourselves. Nedra, thanks for enjoying Lou and Anne's story. It was a bit of a stretch for Diva.

Used as a marketing strategy, the heart and power of social media is in relationship building. Sure blogs can be a quick way to publish, to raise search rankings and to show how smart you are .. But without "you" in the mix why spend the time and resources on another tactic? Go back to posting articles on your website. Which is not a bad thing .. just a different approach.

Lewis - thank you for your kind words which are really a reminder that online friendships are as real as those offline .. and do cross 'platforms." Looking forward to seeing you and CK in NYC next month!

Posted by: Toby on Feb 9, 2007 10:56:25 AM

As always Toby a thought provoking question. I think everyone who does a business (versus strictly personal) blog struggles -- or at least should struggle -- with this as they try to find their voice. If you don't let some of your personality through, how is your voice any different from any one of a hundred other people writing about the same thing.

Yet, as business people, we are hesitant to let too much out. In part due to our long training to keep the personal separate. I remember long ago when my first scottie had a serious health emergency and almost died, my boss at the time (the president) reminded me that the CEO didn't want to know what I was going through, just wanted me to get my job done. Keep in mind I worked closely with both of these men.

At the time I thought f-u. Now I'd probably say it :-)

So we've been conditioned by experiences to draw this line, even if it feels artificial. And this is of course compounded by the fact that we know that what goes online, stays online. And that ain't the same as what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

So we have to find a balance that we ourselves are comfortable with. For me, I certainly don't hide my politics, opinions, interests or family from my blog. I regularly post pics of my son and tell stories about him. My obsession with science fiction is pretty well known among my readers.

But I strive to keep the bulk of my content related to my business topic of marketing and communications, with the occasional foray into the personal, rather than a true mix.

In the end I am a child of my generation, who lives by the rule of never saying anything in public that I'd be ashamed to see on the front page of the NY Times.

Posted by: Susan Getgood on Feb 9, 2007 5:19:03 PM

The great sales trainer David Sandler talked about, among other things, the Sailfish opening gambit. I don't think he called it an opening gambit but basically it goes like this: you finally get into the CEO's office to do your pitch - you don't do your pitch yet, but you see on the wall a mounted sailfish, so you say something like "great sailfish", which leads the CEO into chatting about (probably) his fishing prowess, which leads to you and the CEO having some engagement on a human level. IOW, you are connecting with the "prospect" as a person, and if you are a fisher yourself you might swap a story. At an ad:tech conf the other day I heard that the buzz phrase is "engagement marketing" (everything old is new again?) If we are doing business online, how we connect with people is sharing some people stories and maybe pictures (love the pic of your parents and grandfather). It's a matter of balance, but I am all for some personal touch, some personal sharing of values, opinions and experience in a business blog.

Posted by: Des Walsh on Feb 10, 2007 9:06:21 PM

Back where I came from “Engagement Marketing” consisted of hunting and fishing stories to try to find common interests and connections. Some of us conducted hunting and fishing stories naturally, sometimes so well that we got carried away and the other parties had to ask us to charge into business before we had to go. People like to hear you give something of yourself to them first, which frequently invites a return gift, if done naturally.

The fact that your blog to attracts such positive and genuine responses shows that you have this natural gift for hunting and fishing stories, which is even more difficult to achieve in a blog.

Congratulations! Keep it up.

Posted by: Bill Dueease on Mar 11, 2007 9:18:15 PM

Love the story about your parents, the letters and your question. While I love reading naked bloggers that simply is not my personality. Having said that,I am working towards wearing a one piece bathing suit...maybe someday I'll have the confidence to do bikini blogging.
Oh and that line from Men In Trees. Love it.

Posted by: Elana on Feb 14, 2009 10:33:43 AM

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