We freelancers depend on social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and whatever else happens to be popular, can all help us to build our professional image, meet colleagues and prospects, and generally find out what’s going on in our field.
As we’ve said before, social media is about relationships–and at the core of relationship you find people.
For today, I thought it might be fun to take a lighthearted look at some of the people freelancers are likely to run into when they are active in social media. If you’re active on social media too (and I hope you are), you’ve probably already run into some of these characters.
Six People You Meet Online
I’ve been on social media for quite a few years now, and I’ve noticed that certain personality types tend to emerge over and over again.
This is my unscientific tongue-in-cheek categorization of some of the people you meet online:
- The Cynic. No matter what you do or say, the cynic always knows better. She’s smarter, more informed, and better at what you do–at least in her own mind she is. If there’s a typo in your post or your tweet, she will find it. She always disagrees with you, even when she didn’t read what you wrote. There’s something funny about the cynic, though. You’d think her own website and social media usage would be exemplary, wouldn’t you? Yet time after time, I’ve found that’s not the case. I guess she’s too busy correcting all those errors she sees the rest of us making to get it right herself.
- The Cheerleader. You’ve probably met the cheerleader–he’s the consummate “yes” man and the polar opposite of the cynic. Whatever you do online, he absolutely loves it and can’t wait to tell you how much he loves it. Sadly, he too rarely actually reads what you write. You could tweet about blowing your nose and he would retweet it and tell you how helpful it was. Sadly, the cheerleader has a downside too. Usually, he wants something from you (usually something for nothing), but instead of coming right out and asking for it he tries to butter you up first. Like you can’t see right through that strategy…
- The User. One good thing about the user–she’s forthright about what she wants, which is something for nothing. You’ll know you’re dealing with a user when you suddenly get a direct message from someone you never heard of asking you for help. A typical user DM: “Can you find me some freelancing work that pays about $50/hr and is interesting, but isn’t too hard to do?” Sheesh! Let’s be real. Doesn’t everybody want that? I used to try to help these folks, but the truth is that they can really eat up your time if you’re not careful.
- The Salesman. He’s always on social media, but rarely communicates directly with you unless you’ve made a purchase or seem about to make a purchase. If you’re about to purchase, he suddenly becomes very attentive and very encouraging. Nearly everything he posts to social media has one purpose only–sell his product! He never tires of linking to his own landing page. Really, does pushing product this hard ever work?
- The True Friend. Yes, believe it or not, there are real people who use social media. The true friend is one of these. Just when you think you’ve had it up to here with all the posing and faking that goes on, she steps forward and has a real conversation with you. She really reads your posts and thinks about them too (and you start to read hers). She’s encouraging, but she’s not afraid to let you know if you’re doing something wrong. She seems to get you, to really understand what you’re about. You might actually find yourself wishing you could meet up face to face at the next user conference and have a long chat.
- The Client/Prospect. He or she is out there on social media somewhere. But, if you’ve been acting like one of the first four personalities I just described, the odds are that you’ll never get to meet the client/prospect. He or she will be turned off before you even get to share your elevator pitch. You see, most client relationships are based on trust and trust is based on relationship. If you’re constantly putting people down, or buttering them up, or using them, or being too pushy you’re not going to have much of a relationship with anybody.
Now, I know there will be those who read this article and say that cheerleading or using or selling has really, really worked for them. Well, I have my doubts about that–but if it’s working for you all I can say is–more power to you. The rest of us, however, prefer to deal with real people. (I’ve probably quietly unfollowed you already.)
What About You?
Have I missed any social media personality types? Add any personality type that I’ve missed in the comments.