An entrepreneur's guide to social media (part three): Finding your voice

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In part one of her series on social media skills, Colette Mason focused on social media for technophobes while part two looked at identifying your social media goals. In the third part, the internet marketing expert examines how to find your social media voice and present yourself online.

In this article, we’re focusing on one thing I found very difficult when I started using social media to market my products and services.

I seemed to spend ages getting off the ground, trying to work out what I wanted to say. I worried a lot about how I was going to be perceived. I remember thinking, "What could I possibly say that other people would be even remotely interested in?"

"I did some work on personal branding which I found useful, since I tend to use social media to promote my business as 'me as an individual' for a lot of the time."

I wanted to be genuine to boost my credibility and to reflect my true personality. I didn’t want to fake anything. But I worried how that might work out for me. I didn’t want to be too boring, or too outrageous.

I didn’t want to seem flippant and unprofessional. I didn’t want to be too distant, aloof and difficult to contact. I didn’t want to look like social media had taken over my life. I didn’t want to disappear when I got stuck.

I didn’t want to say something that could be horrendously misconstrued and turn into an episode I would later regret. I didn’t want to be a lone voice in the wilderness with no-one responding to what I posted.

I kept going round in circles, trying to work out what to say and what not to say. I didn’t really get it straight in my head for three long months. (That painful delay and anxiety was one of the reasons I wrote this course – to spare other people this hassle.)

In the end, I stumbled across the answer to all those problems quite by accident. I did some work on personal branding which I found useful, since I tend to use social media to promote my business as "me as an individual" for a lot of the time.

One of the best parts of that personal branding research came about when I stumbled on a list of adjectives that can be used to describe a business, in straightforward, easy-to-understand terms.

I used these ideas to help me work out the balance between being personal and professional, and to work out what sort of emotions to use in my updates. Pick five of the following emotions you feel comfortable being associated with and check your updates match these concepts.

How we want to be perceived by our social media followers


When you are doing your status updates, make sure they tie in with the personality, the human angle, you want to put across. Again, you can look at some of the dominant companies on social media and see how they are coming across, and find one you feel comfortable with and use that as a starting point.

In the next article in the series, we’ll look at how you stand out from the crowd in social media.

Colette Mason runs an international online consultancy which shows businesses and entrepreneurs how to use the internet and social media to boost their business online. Colette has a background in IT, which started in support and development and moved on to usability and online marketing techniques, and is author of latest social media guide Social Media Success in 7 Days. For more information visit: www.socialmediasuccessin7days.com.

About Dan Martin

About Dan Martin

Dan Martin has 10 years experience as a journalist writing about entrepreneurs and the issues that affect them.

After three years working as a researcher for Sky News, he joined BusinessEurope.com as a reporter. This was followed by two years working as news editor for Startups.co.uk during which time Dan also contributed to Growing Business magazine. In 2006, he joined Sift Media as business editor before being promoted to editor of BusinessZone.co.uk. He also has responsibility for UK Business Forums, the UK’s most active online forums for small business entrepreneurs. In addition, Dan founded The Pitch, BusinessZone.co.uk's nationwide competition for small business owners. He host the grand finals in 2009 and 2010 in front of an audience of 300. 

As well as interviewing many entrepreneurs, Dan has written content for leading business organisations such as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, British Chambers of Commerce, Forum of Private Business, Investors in People and Business Link for London. Among the publications that have quoted Dan are The Times, Mail On Sunday, Financial Times, Personnel Today and Bristol Evening Post. His articles have also been published by publications including eGov Monitor, Virgin Express in-flight magazine and Personal Success.

Dan regularly speaks at events about small business and social media issues. Among the events he has presented at are the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies' annual conference, Learning Technologies, Publishing Expo and World of Learning. He has also chaired high profile debates featuring senior representatives from Business Link and the Federation of Small Businesses and Dragons' Den judge James Caan.

Dan was named the 10th most influential political blogger on Twitter by the Independent and won the public award for best B2B tweeter at the Golden Twits 2010. He also organised the Bristol Twestival, part of a global Twitter driven charity initiative, in February 2009 and March 2010. Volunteers from 175 cities around the world organised events using the social network. In total, $350,000 was raised for charity: water in 2009 and $500,000 for Concern in 2010. In Bristol, £1,500 and £5,600 was raised.

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