*Gasp* I know, weird right?
Like my friend Mack Collier, I’m an extrovert online and in introvert offline.
If you met me in a large crowd, (prior to chatting with me online), I’d be the awkward girl in the corner with her face in her (name random electronic device here) to avoid actually speaking to people.
Sometimes I wear headphones when I’m not listening to music so I don’t have to talk to people. If you see me at a conference, or on the streets of Chicago, you’ve been warned!
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people, but I only talk when I have something to say.
If you’ve met me in person, you may have a hard time believing I’m an introvert because when I feel comfortable enough around people, I do enjoy talking and carrying on like an extrovert. But being an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy, it just means I feel uncomfortable in real life situations where I don’t know anyone.
I read an old article on Forbes by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler about why introverts make the best leaders. The qualities she mentions can be translated to community managers. Whether you are an introvert or not, there are some characteristics we have that make us great social media and community managers.
We are great at listening. Well, most of us are. Introverts are happy to sit back and listen to the conversation before they jump in. It’s the same for social media – community managers are attentive to their fans and followers. We listen to what they say, look for what they like, and at what conversations they participate in. Then we jump in to create or share content that will appeal to them, hopefully starting a conversation around the topic at hand.
We think first and talk later. “Even in casual conversations, they consider others’ comments carefully, and they stop and reflect before responding,” Kahnweiler says. In social media it’s important to respond quickly to things, however it still gives you time to think through how something sounds before you hit send. It’s really useful when you are dealing with a crisis or customer complaint.
We let our fingers do the talking. We tend to prefer the written word, and social media allows us to do just that. It helps us better articulate our positions and, to my previous point, it lets us think about what we want to say, and revise anything before we send it out.
We exude calm. In times of crisis, we project a reassuring, calm confidence which is great for social media. If there is a crisis, the last thing you want to do is let your emotions get the better of you.
We tend to dislike small talk and embrace solitude. I do, at least. We’re drawn more to meaningful conversations instead of “superficial chitchat,” as Kahnweiler calls it. We know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers. This is important in social media, because it’s not about talking at your community, it’s about talking with them: Listening to them, and asking questions to figure out what they want. Community managers want meaningful relationships, not one million likes. Don’t get me wrong – a million likes would be fantastic, but if we aren’t building relationships with those people, and they aren’t coming back to our community, then what’s the point?
In my opinion, social media was made for introverts. Whenever clients ask our fearless leader, Gini Dietrich, who she recommends putting in charge of social media, she says to start with the introverts inside the company. Why? Because social media allows us to make friends and break the ice behind the comfort of our computer screens.
I know it gives me a place where I can communicate with confidence.