Posts

I’m no extrovert, but I play one on social media and so can you

Social media works—especially for introverts. It works for me. It can work for you, too.

What a public presence says about an introvert

I thought about this when I saw my profile on Crystal, which says it can assess people’s personalities on the basis of their social media posts and other publicly available information that turns up in a Google search. Here’s what Crystal says about me:

Susan Weiner on Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One of the most social people in the room”? I don’t think so. If you’ve ever seen me in a real-life room of strangers, you’ve seen me standing over to the side with a fake smile, hoping that someone will come talk to me. By the way, if I were active on Crystal, my profile might become more accurate. The site adjusts your profile based on “confirmations” by you and your peers. You get a chance to click “thumbs down” or “thumbs up” on personality attributes displayed for you and other members of your network.

Why it’s easier for an introvert to play an extrovert on social media than in real life

On the other hand, I understand how I might come across as friendly and outgoing on social media. It’s so much easier to chat with people on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. These platforms remove some of the scary aspects of real-life conversations. This is a big benefit of social media for introverts.

Here is why interacting on social media is easier than interacting in real life for introverts like me:

  • It’s easy to approach anybody. You don’t have to push your way through a crowd to reach the people whom you’d like to meet. Just throw out their Twitter handle or use their name in a LinkedIn status update. If your targets are monitoring their social media presence and care about expanding their network, they are likely to see your post. They may even respond.
  • You don’t have to worry about being publicly snubbed. Have you ever  introduced yourself to a group at cocktail party or lunch, only to be ignored? It’s humiliating. Plus, if you picked the wrong table at a conference luncheon, you’re stuck silently eating, and possibly overeating to conceal your discomfort with activity. In contrast, on social media, it’s less painful if someone fails to respond to your comment on their tweet or LinkedIn post. You aren’t forced to view their non-response. Plus, the steady flow of social media updates mean this is less likely to be noticed by others.
  • You can expand your network without face-to-face contact. If you share valuable content and interact well with others on social media, your network will grow. As I write this post, my Twitter followers number close to 12,000. Can you imagine how painful it would be for an introvert to build that kind of network on a face-to-face basis? Plus, it would require a lot of travel if your network, like mine, is spread around the world.
  • You can always find someone to interact with, especially other introverts. As author Jenny Lawson says about introverts in Furiously Happy, “They’re often on their phones or computers so it’s like you’re with friends even when you’re alone.”
  • You avoid awkward departures from face-to-face conversations. As Mack Collier says in “Why introverts love Social Media“: “What do you do when you reach that point where the conversation has died, and you need to politely break it off?  I hate that!  But again, if I’m online, then I can leave and no one really knows.  So again, that awkward feeling is removed.” On a related note, you can avoid getting cornered by someone with whom you don’t wish to interact. Platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn let you block people from your content. You can also use privacy settings to manage who sees what. Of course, you may still find yourself in awkward situations on social media. If so, check out Blane Warrene’s suggestions in “Tackling Vitriol in Your Digital Spaces.”
  • You avoid exhaustion. For introverts, being around people all day can be exhausting. After I attend an all-day conference, I’m ready to crawl into a cave for a couple days. This happens to me even if I enjoy the conference and meet friendly people there.
  • You have time to think. Introverts like to think before they speak. Sometimes my husband gets mad at me because I don’t answer his questions right away. I’m not ignoring him; I’m mulling over my answers. Social media exchanges can happen quickly, particularly on Twitter. However, social media interactions typically allow more time for reflection.
  • You can show off the friendly person you’d like to be. I’d like to be a person who comes across as friendly and warm. Even on social media, I could probably make my presence more friendly. However, I suspect that I come across much better on social media than in face-to-face meetings.

The marketing advantage of social media for introverts

The distance imposed by social media allows introverts—at least introverts like me—to relax and relate better to the people whom we meet online. It also gives our prospective clients a better idea of who we are. By the time they contact us about business opportunities, they may already feel that they know us. That makes them more inclined to do business with us. They will also have more realistic expectations for our work together. Except, perhaps, for the kind of in-real-life meetings we may have. But even then, we may do better because the social media interactions have made our new prospects more familiar to us, too.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about the benefits and drawbacks of social media. Is the rise of social media hard for extroverts to handle? I found an interesting quote about social media for extroverts in Ryan Dube’s “Introverts Love Facebook and Extroverts Hate It. Here’s Why.”:

Extroverts, on the other hand, often despise everything about Facebook. The facial cues, the back-and-forth banter and the physical contact are all missing. In fact, it’s often the extrovert who expounds upon the tragedy that social networks and smartphones are causing to society and interpersonal relationships.

Extroverts, do you struggle with social media?

 

Updated 11/7/19 when I noticed some typos.