Social media posts should be first person

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Unfortunately, sometimes some of us forget that social media should be a personal and social communications tool.

Yes, brands can be personal. So can people. But, sometimes we forget that…

Third person in social media

I still see people and brands use the third person in their own posts. This might look like this:

. @ctrappe received an award today and will speak at such and such event. – (Posted by @ctrappe)

My guess is that this is a holdover from the “good ole'” days of news release writing. Organizations and people routinely referred to themselves in the third person. In a news release that wasn’t super terrible, because they weren’t necessarily supposed to be conversational or social.

On social media, it’s just strange. The Tweet above could have easily been posted like this:

I’m so excited to win this award and speak at that event. Hope to see you there. (Posted by @ctrappe)

I frequently compare social media to a dinner party and we certainly wouldn’t talk about ourselves in the third person at a dinner party. Can we agree on first person going forward?

I see that organizational accounts sometimes have to refer to others in the organization and that’s OK, but it’s a far cry from this news release-type third person language. An airline might say:

Please let a crew member on your flight know. (After hearing about an issue.)

A hospital might say:

Please DM us and we will forward your information to the appropriate department. (After getting a question that needs an answer from a subject matter expert.)

You can see how that’s different.

Quoting others without quoting them

Some days I wonder where we used to find inspirational quotes before social media. Everyone is sharing their favorite quotes from dead and living leaders.

Some people, I’ve noticed, are quoting articles or people without using quotation marks. That also can cause confusion. Even when we link back to a full article that explains the source, quoting without credit on social media can be confusing. Many social media users don’t even click on those links. People (rightfully so) might expect that the post is from you, because, well, it came from you. And we just agreed on first-person posts. 🙂

When we use other people’s words, let’s make sure to put quotation marks around them and quote them. If on Twitter, use their handle. On Facebook tag them.

Quoting yourself

Other times, I’ve seen people quote themselves. For example, the pre-written Tweet above. You can click on it and share it with your Twitter network.. I’ll wait…

OK, thanks! See, if you share it you are quoting me. That’s fine (and appreciated). It’s the appropriate way of quoting somebody. If I share that exact same Tweet, though, I’m quoting myself and that’s just strange and not that conversational.

Since it’s me, I don’t have to quote myself. I can just tweet the sentence: Quoting yourself is strange.

In conclusion…

Social media is called social for a reason. It’s supposed to be a conversation. Be personable, real and talk like humans would. It shouldn’t be that difficult since we all are humans.