by Kim Niemi
Everyone wants to stand out on the Internet, but not everyone does. Those who do have managed to figure out a secret that even the best social media marketers can’t deny.
And I’m going to share it with you.
Just be yourself.
You probably heard those words from your mom or dad every year as you headed off to the first day of school, or anytime you were in a situation where you were nervous about meeting new people. Believe it or not, it’s advice that still holds up. And when combined with a little social media know-how, it can create pure magic.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few people to help convince you:
Schoep and John
All John Unger did was take his sweet, old, arthritic dog into the waters of Lake Superior to ease his aching joints – something he did regularly. But when photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson captured the moment and shared it on Facebook, it went viral, deeply touching dog lovers the world over.
Donations came pouring in to help care for the ailing pup, who otherwise would have been euthanized because John couldn’t afford his medical expenses. Schoep lived another year, dying at the ripe old age of 20, and John started the Schoep Legacy Foundation to pay forward the kindness shown to him and help other pet owners facing insurmountable medical bills.
Two years later, 387,490 people follow John on Facebook, where he regularly posts stories and images about life in Wisconsin.
Type “Julia” into the YouTube search box, and Nunes pops up as fifth in the list—just below Julias Child and Roberts. The young singer/songwriter started posting videos of her original music, favorite covers, and Q&A sessions seven years ago, with a simple and casual quick-cut style, playing all instruments and even harmonizing with herself.
Millions of views later, she has opened for her idol Ben Folds four times, played Bonnaroo twice, and inspired Molly Ringwald to take up the ukelele. None of the videos are slick or professionally produced – which is part of the appeal. Nunes is just like all the girls her age watching and wishing they were her.
The former The Young & The Restless hottie, currently taking down bad guys on CBS’s Criminal Minds, would probably have followers no matter what he did, but he wouldn’t have nearly as many, or nearly as devoted a following, if he weren’t so actively involved with them daily.
Moore’s mother has multiple sclerosis, so to help aid in research efforts, Moore started his own line of women’s clothing called Baby Girl Gear, which references his Criminal Minds character’s nickname for his best friend on the show. Proceeds benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and women can send in pics of themselves wearing the gear for a chance at being chosen Baby Girl of the Day and featured on the actor’s social media accounts.
And of course, there are daily selfies and vids of Moore being “silly and sexy” – his frequent taglines – which just make everyone love him more.
Maybe the Eat, Pray, Love author had no other choice but to be herself, since it would be hard to put the genie back in the bottle after her autobiographical bestseller, and her follow-up personal marriage journey, Committed: A Love Story.
The gentle, thoughtful, and completely accessible way that Gilbert interacts with her readers on social media proves that everything we thought we knew about her from her books is true, and that she’s just a soul-in-progress like the rest of us.
Further cementing her popularity is this BuzzFeed list, which posted last week.
None of these social media stand-outs are “fronting,” which is exactly why they’re so popular. And while it’s likely they all have social media gurus helping them navigate the waters, what’s really selling them is THEM. (And their gurus are smart enough to know that.)
So keep your strategy simple, and start with YOU. Then hire the social media team to get you to the next level.
Are you yourself on social media, or playing a character? We'd love to know how you're doing either way!