Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

When is it okay to complain publicly on LinkedIn or other social media networks?

Christoph

March 13, 2017

Social media


You likely have seen the posts on LinkedIn:

Why would recruiters think I want to read their lengthy emails? Stop calling, stop calling, stop calling.

OR

I have four openings and I cannot believe that people would apply for more than one. At this senior level!

OR

I cannot believe that people would send me a connection request and then immediately sell to me!

The list goes on and you’ve likely seen posts like these. They are a bit whiny and usually judge somebody else’s behavior. I’ve usually found them kind of annoying. Stop the complaining, people! (Sorry, now I’m doing on here what they are doing on there.)

  • Be happy that recruiters are calling you. Maybe you’ll need them one day.
  • Oh no! Too many people want to work for me. Maybe they have cross-over skills.
  • Don’t accept requests from people you don’t know.

Those posts tend to create a fair amount of discussion, which might be one reason why people post them to begin with. But they also do another thing:

They mostly just complain and don’t really intend to solve any problems or educate – really one of the pillars of authentic storytelling content marketing: Share stories that are helpful to people.

I post angry from time to time. I’m hot about an issue and want to just blow off some steam and that basically leaves me these options of moving forward:

  • Write, write, write angrily and publish now.
  • Write, write, write angrily and defer publishing to later – maybe never
  • Determine how the whole thing can be turned into something educational and post that.

It’s so easy to want to push out content that got us going. That made us feel bad. That made us shake our heads. It’s easier than ever to fire off that blog post or tweet. But sometimes, we should take a breath. If we can’t share something educational maybe we should just not share anything.

Related: Once we have an audience, don’t exploit it but always offer value

Photos, particularly gym selfies fall into the same category of often judged content:

 

It can get old to look at other people’s near-flawless bodies on Instagram. And everyone – other than me – who posts #gymselfies on there has one. So it seems. But it can also be an inspiration. Sometimes people post older and newer pictures side by side to show progress.

Picture 1 was her stomach a month ago.

Picture 2 is her much more defined six pack now.

Wow, this was possible in just a month? It’s inspirational that change is possible and can happen fairly quickly – even though a month isn’t that quick when you need something now.

Others post short videos or pictures of a workout regime. I’ve taken ideas from these clips and added them to my own workouts. From time to time. Sometimes, I just wonder how I would ever do that move.

#Gymselfies are also great to keep track of progress or negatives changes to our bodies.

Why does my belly look like that in this picture? Umm, because that’s how it looks. It’s not the picture’s fault.

The good news is that photos can prompt us to do something about the appearance that we see.

Interestingly, there’s a whole community around #gymselfies. Whenever I post one with this hashtag I always end up connecting to others in the fitness community.

There is value in sharing our gym pictures. We can encourage and congratulate each other.  We can be inspired and thrive to make our bodies look like the one we just saw in somebody else’s #gymselfie.

It’s possible.

But not everyone wants to look at #gymselfies. Don’t look or follow. Easy enough.

All content isn’t relevant to all people. In fact, it can be extremely relevant to one group of people and another group completely despises it.

But that’s easier said than done….

Really, we judge other people’s stories all the time.

We judge whether or not we think they are believable. We judge their relevance to us. Do we even care about them? And we judge whether or not we agree or disagree with them.

But yet, authentic storytelling in its truest community-building sense is only sustainable when we are accepting of other people’s stories. We don’t have to agree with them, sometimes we might not believe them. That happens – even when they are true.

We should listen and most importantly determine the story’s relevance to ourselves. When people share their authentic stories it’s great for all of us. People being authentic. Yay! High fives all around. We are all trying.

It gets dicey when we share our story and belittle somebody else’s story. Most of the time there’s no need to do that. At all. Just share your story. Don’t judge what you likely can’t judge anyway.

Somebody – I think it was on Twitter – was joking the other day that everyone can now do everyone else’s job. Everyone can say how it can be done better.

Everyone can be an NFL quarterback on a Monday. I’m actually the best Tuesday morning quarterback. I Monday morning quarterback the Monday morning quarterbacks. 🙂

The other day I read an open letter that said something to the effect of “my kids learned more on this family trip than they would have learned in school in a year.” The rest of the piece was actually very interesting, but just the judging statement kicked it off on a bad note for me.

 

Being tolerant and making posts relevant

I’m more tolerant now of people’s posts when I wonder why somebody would post whatever they just posted. It’s really up to them. I don’t have to like it. Or even understand it. Or agree with it. Maybe their audience gets it. Maybe it’s really just for themselves. Whatever the reason might be, I prefer that people share their authentic stories. Sometimes they are weird to me.

Weird is an interesting thing to begin with. What’s weird to me, might not be weird to you. Maybe some people think I’m weird. Or maybe it’s that they are weird for judging me for being me.

Being judged weird unfortunately is judgmental and usually has a negative connotation. Perhaps, being weird is just a sign of true authenticity and the willingness to show it publicly.

Now, there’s a difference between being weird and endangering other people or entering their personal space. That’s not good and nice. Stay in your own space, please.

But much so-called weirdness out there is harmless and when we really think about it shouldn’t even be a minor annoyance. It’s just how some people are. Let them be.

They are different from you. Or maybe you are weird to them for being so alike to the masses?

Either way, as long as nobody is being endangered or their rights are being restricted, let it go. Being authentic entails living (and sharing) our own authentic stories and being accepting of other people’s authentic stories – even if they seem weird to us.

Besides, being different can make our communities better and more interesting. How boring would that be if we were all exactly alike. Pushing the borders of what’s not weird can even create more meaningful experiences and stories.

But nonetheless, even with tolerance going around for other people’s stories, I would still encourage people who share stories publicly to consider to try to find an informational and educational angle. Don’t just rant. That doesn’t mean we can’t share crazy or weird or frustrating stories. We can and we should, but if we can also share a lesson in them or how we overcame a bad situation that can be tremendously helpful to our readers.

I move between being baffled and impressed when I see people post less than educational posts on LinkedIn or other networks. Baffled, because they can cost them jobs or hires. But they can also attract the right people. The people that have similar believes and that you want to work with you. So there are potentially negatives but also definite positives with that kind of posting strategy.


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Christoph

Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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