At the 2016 IDRS Conference I presented my research on The Importance of Social Media Hustling for Musicians. At the end of the presentation there was a bit of free time for questions.
One of the great topics I was asked about was: How to Find the Boundaries in Sharing Private Life Moments on Social Media.
I was not at all surprised by this question. This is a Universal Struggle.
In the process of building my intended audience that now includes Universities, Worldwide Bassoonists of All Ages, Professional Symphony Orchestras and More – I’ll be the first to admit there were a few tough moments, conversations that I wished I would have avoided.
As my audience shifted, demographics morphed, and my community grew it would have been easy to choose the Private Life Quick Fix: limit my audience to choice individuals making my platforms private. But my business savvy held me back from this decision.
Changing settings to private so that only friends or family can follow activity limits business growth potential, recruitment efforts, global networking opportunities and more.
As my audience grew I quickly realized I needed a Greater Posting Self Awareness. I needed a way to Build Conscious Audience Dialogues and Hustle within Personal Boundaries.
Here are My Keys to Safe Social Media Hustling, 5 way to find the balance between personal and professional posting.
1. BE AWARE OF BOTH THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN AUDIENCE:
The nature of social networking platforms creates Bizarre Audience Combinations.
It is not uncommon for colleagues, students, friends, people from high school, and my grandmother to ALL view the same Post, Tweet, Insta-Photo or Snap.
This is what I call: The Known Audience. The people you know and are aware are following your content. They comment on posts or “like” (thumbs up, heart, retweet, or share) your social media activity.
If your settings are public, which I suggest for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and ROI (Return on Investment), you are also engaging with The Unknown Audience.
The Unknown Audience views your posts without your awareness. They may see your online activity from a share, following a friend’s “like”, or they find your content by searching a hashtag. The Unknown Audience rarely “likes” or comments on activity, which can limit our awareness of their views.
I learned about my Uknown Audience the hard way. One day in a private music lesson a student mentioned my mother’s latest Instagram Photo. Even I hadn’t seen this post, yet. I was both shocked and intrigued. How did the student find my mom’s Insta-Account? So, I dug a little deeper.
The student was not publicly following my Insta-Account but would randomly check in on my posts and watch for my “liked” photos. In that month I had liked several of my mother’s Graphic Art Design Posts. By “liking” the photos I had inadvertently directed the student to my mom’s account. The student had seen my “likes”, enjoyed my mother’s content and then become my mom’s next follower. The student was part of my Unknown Audience and was also part of My Mom’s Unknown Audience.
Growing an awareness that followers are both publicly and privately following our posts on Social Media can create a greater self awareness. This is the start of Building a Conscious Voice.
2. FINDING YOUR CONSCIOUS VOICE AND KNOWING YOUR VULNERABILITIES :
An easy way to find your Conscious Voice and create a Safe Space on Social Media is to ask yourself where you love most deeply in your life. The answer to this question reveals your greatest place/s of vulnerability. Be conscious about what you are willing and not willing to share in the tender soft underbelly of your world.
To allow My Career and Business the Greatest Growth Potential I made a list of the 3 Most Vulnerable Spots in My Life. These are the places that I feel emotions deeply and could be most easily wounded by Trolls (haters and bullies).
I realized that My Personal Life, My Art, and My Dog Coco were My Vulnerable Spots.
Your vulnerable spots are probably different from mine. That’s okay. You may have even more than me. That’s okay, too. We are each unique in the way we love.
After recognizing my vulnerabilities I set boundaries about sharing information related to those topics.
For example when I struggle in My Art I share the struggle publicly only after I have worked through most of it. Not when I first feel the vulnerability, when it is still raw and fresh.
In order for me to enjoy social media and feel safe I realized I needed stronger boundaries in the deepest vulnerabilities. I learned My Personal Life was Off Limits on Social Media. Experience taught me that it was too risky and too vulnerable for me.
If I was available or listed as “not in a relationship” social media became a place for people to try and start a relationship. This was not appealing to me. When I was listed as “in a relationship” it opened me up to judgments (“likes” or comments) from outsiders about my personal life. And I didn’t need or enjoy that, either.
If you do not desire the judgement of others on a topic: Don’t Post It.
By identifying and setting boundaries we protect our vulnerabilities, keeping ourselves centered and strong allowing us to build quality content.
3. BE WILLING TO ASK YOURSELF THE TOUGH QUESTIONS:
Before I share anything on a social media platform I ask myself: Do I want to have a dialogue about this with a stranger? Would I be willing to talk about it after I have been through a crazy week of teaching, performing and running my own business?
If the answer is ever “No” or “I don’t know,” best not to share.
This strategy I learned from real life interaction with students and subscribers. I’ve realized that it is not uncommon for people to spend their whole lives attempting to develop social skills.
And in trying to develop social skills people may lack courtesy with information gathered on the internet. By choosing to not share all of my vulnerabilities I set boundaries with people who are still working on their social growth.
Here’s another great example of how I learned this lesson. Facebook once did a public notification that a relationship I was in had ended. I was oblivious to this post. I didn’t realize I should watch for it in the public forum.
Don’t get me wrong- I knew the relationship had fallen apart but was unaware the rest of the world knew it, too. Had I realized, I would have deleted the content immediately but it did not show up on my personal page or in my newsfeed. Sneaky Facebook.
That day I went into work and was in the zone. It was just before class and I was preparing a hefty lecture on Medieval Music, organizing my lecture notes and listening/video examples for a balanced effective presentation.
Just before I began to speak about Hildegard of Bingen a student chimed in with questions about my personal life- asking what happened to the relationship and commenting that they liked the person I had been dating. Keep in mind the student had never met the person I had been dating. My mind whizzed into: WTF is happening here?!?
I’m sure I was visibly shocked the student knew the details of my personal life (or would even care). He was demonstrating limited courtesy, a need for greater social skills, and a need for guidance- to refocus on task.
And yes, I’m aware it may have been a demonstration of a student posturing for power or attention. But it was a great indicator of my need for a greater awareness in what I was willing to share.
For me it was a great opportunity to learn I must be aware of what tugs at my heart strings and can make me publicly unsettled. I can protect myself by consciously choosing how much I am willing to share and to ask myself the tough questions before I post.
4. BE PREPARED TO MAKE MISTAKES AND FORGIVE:
Early on in my Social Media Struggles I realized the problem was NOT the people that asked bizarre questions, commented on posts with posturing, or disliked my content. Everyone that commented was Trying to Connect with Me.
The problem in posting safely was most often: ME! It took a bit of time and a few mistakes to learn this lesson.
Before posting I had asked myself if I was okay with a dialogue about the topic but then hours later realized, “Nope, not okay. I don’t want to talk about this with strangers.”
I had inadvertently given the audience My Spots of Vulnerability. And I didn’t know how to feel about it after I had publicly posted and then started receiving comments.
Do I take the post down? Do I respond even though I am uncomfortable? Oh, no! What if someone asks me about this in person? At least on the internet there’s time to formulate a response. That’s a gift we don’t always have in person to person interactions.
Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s important to let go of any attachment to a post. It’s okay to delete a Tweet, Post, Snap, or Insta-photo every now and then.
And remember, in the fast paced world of social media the shelf life of a tweet is usually only 2 hours, assuming it doesn’t begin trending. And for most of us a trending tweet takes thoughtful marketing.
Sometimes growth requires a risk and every social media post can be a risk. As musicians we are innate perfectionists so when a post goes wrong, remember to forgive yourself. Then take a moment to add the new found vulnerability to your list of non posting items, saving yourself the same mistake in the future.
5. TAKE BREAKS:
Taking breaks from social media allows space to be inspired, increasing the quality of content. Constantly posting can sometimes break a person’s ability to be present. Enjoy the moments that create day dreaming- it’s the magic that creates great posts.
Breaks are a Required Daily Event in My Life. After a long day of teaching and performing I am tired. When I am tired my vulnerabilities are heightened.
I’ve learned that to be my best on social media (and in real life) I need a curfew, a required technology break from 8 PM to 8 AM.
In the late evening and early morning I take time for myself. I do not answer emails, texts or comments, unless it is an emergency.
Taking breaks gives me mental strength to identify negativity and deal with it efficiently. A negative post can seem inconsequential but it can shift the intended environment if not dealt with in a concise manner.
Don’t be afraid to block people or delete comments. As the Content Creator there is an obligation to keep the atmosphere honest and fresh. You set the tone.
Keep in mind I am not suggesting the removal of all constructive criticism. Many of my greatest growth points in my posting came from suggestions and criticism from my audience. Instead, be aware of the differences between helpful vs hurtful posts.
By giving myself time to refuel and recharge I am less likely to take comments from Trolls personally and respond in a thoughtless manner. In the morning after a bit of time to daydream and a good Coco walk- I am fresh with clear ideas and thoughts, allowing me to create quality content marketing.
Social Media is a relatively new phenomenon in our world. Gaining the skills of how to use social media as a tool for promotion is a learning curve for everyone. Allow time and space to grow your intended audience and create the intended environment.
And finally, here’s my Secret Trick for when the social media struggle begins to feel like too much. Return to the Three Easiest Human Connectivity Posts: Animals, Nature and Food! All three of these can bring out the best in people.
If you have any tips or tricks for keeping yourself safe on social media, we’d love to hear from you. My goal with this post is to create a dialogue where everyone can share how they best handle private life sharing on social media. Hopefully the tips and tricks I’ve shared from my own social media growth will help you in your journey to create successful and safe content marketing.
Happy SAFE Social Media Hustling, Everybody!