Promoting without appearing self-promotional

There is a cultural difference between Australian and Americans that I have noticed.  Americans are far more willing to be self-promotional.  Australians are hesitant to start blogs and will often make their tweets private on Twitter.  So I guess the big question is, can social media work for you if your aren’t willing to be self-promotional.

The answer is yes . . . and no.

There are two types of promotional tweets, the first are the type that are used to brag about ourselves.  “I just won a big case” “I just completed a huge transaction” “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”  You get the idea.  Most of us have a visceral reation to these types of tweets and messages.  Not only are these types of messages ineffective they actually have the opposite effect, they turn us off.

The second type of promotional tweet is one that adds value by sharing knowledge that is of value and that ideally helps people solve problems.  If you create or collect good information and your share that information, you become a valued resource.  These messages can be shared on Twitter, LinkedIN, email  and various other platforms that work for your industry.

Warning: even if you create something of value, you still may run the risk of coming across as self-promotional.

To avoid this, I recommend using the 80/20 rule.  80% of what you share should be good information, articles, conversations and resources created by other people.  Only 20% of what you share should be the articles, content or blogs that you create.  This way your messages have far more credibility because you have shown you share good content regardless of the source.

Does this mean you should share content created by your competitor?  Absolutely, if the content is solid.  A great example of this is Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich on Twitter) in the PR industry in Chicago.  She shares great content regardless of the source, and this has paid off huge dividends for her company.  Not only are they making more money then ever, but she is recognized as a real thought leader and trusted adviser as a result of her integrity in sharing great information regardless of the source.

Can you share your articles or content more than once?  My personal data has shown that the first 3 or 4 times I share my new content it generates substantial traffic.  After that there isn’t much traffic, and I am likely annoying followers who have already seen the content.  I recommend sharing your new content a few times, different times of the day.  You will hit different audiences that way.  Usually for me I hit the high traffic times on Twitter.  9am EST, 12pm EST and 5pm EST.  Using Tweetdeck I can schedule all three  tweets at once, saving me time and making sure I get the appropriate exposure for the articles.

One thing to be aware of though, if you schedule three tweets and don’t share anything else, or have any conversations between tweets, than on your Twitter page it will simply show you promoting your article over and over again which makes you appear to be far too self-promotional.  So you can be content promotional, just make sure you aren’t too self-promotional.

Americans could learn a lot from Australians.  The best way to succeed online is not from being self-promotional, but by creating and finding content of value that you can share.  It may seem like common sense, but unfortunately the vast majority of the users of social media still don’t seem to be getting the message.

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