Don't be an idiot. Don't be a jerk. But, don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself.
I spend a lot of my days trying to figure out what clicks. You can read that last sentence in any number of ways. When it comes to looking at Social Media (and Blogs, in particular) it's always fascinating to see what gets the most attention. Here's my unsubstantiated opinion from a market of one (me): it's the very personal stuff and it's the stuff that pushes the standard thinking to the edge.
When you make yourself vulnerable, people not only see a more human side of you, but they wind up seeing themselves in your content too.
It's not easy to do. When you give opinions, many people see it as grandstanding or as someone trying to create a set of rules. When you disagree with a commonly held ideal, you may be treated like a Charlatan. It doesn't have to be that dramatic. We may all attempt to be professional by day and casual by night, but by taking a look at the Twitter stream - during any particular time of the day - you'll quickly see how dramatically those lines are blurring. Learning how to be comfortable with making a fool of yourself could well become one of the better character traits you can pick up on.
Six ways to open up and make a fool of yourself:
- Write in stream of consciousness. Too many writers, Blogger and people who tweet spend too much time trying to think of the perfect words to weave together so that others will think that they are smart. Instead, just start writing. Let the words flow out of you... naturally.
- Let it feel weird. Some of the best Blog posts (in terms of comments, tweets and attention) that I've ever published were the ones that I felt very uncomfortable with the second I hit the "publish" button (like this one does). The ones where you are unsure of how the content will be received. Those are the ones that feel too vulnerable. Those are the ones with the gold.
- Have thick skin. You're putting raw emotion and new thinking out into the world. It's going to attract attention. It's not all going to be bellyrubs and lollipops. Get used to it.
- Have thin skin. I have very, very thin skin (I even Blogged about it here: You Have To Have Thin Skin). I want people to think my ideas are great and if they do not, it bothers me. I harp on their every word and I play evil games in my mind about snarky ways to defend my own honor (and then I do nothing by taking a personal and moral higher ground stance). When people are overly nice to me and complimentary, my skin is thin too. I don't know how to accept it graciously. I have reconciled that this is the true artist in me.
- Faith. Not in a religious way, but you have to have faith that how you are thinking and feeling has a place in this world. And - more importantly - you have to have faith in the ways in which you express it (be it words, images, audio or video).
- Scrabble. Don't try to find words that will help you win a game of Scrabble. Don't use big words (unless it's a part of who you are and how you really speak). Speak in a human voice. Use emotional words. Words that mean something. Words that help you to connect the dots.
I posted this thought to Twitter: "I am ok with putting opinions out there. I am ok with being wrong about them. I am just trying to think creatively. You?" It was less of a question and more of a personal statement about who I am and what I am trying to do (but it was nice to see how others felt).
Now, it's your turn: what do you do to make a fool of yourself and to open up?