The Introvert-advantage: 5 Introvert Traits That Help Your Social Media Game

Young woman smiling while using a laptop at desk in the office in front of her colleagues
@Kzenon / Adobe Stock

As a graphic designer, I try to look at common objects in a different way to uncover new meanings. Over the past month, I’ve been trying to do that with social media. I used to hide from it, and to be perfectly honest, I took the ignorance-is-bliss approach. But it’s time to reframe my perception of the whole thing. Instead of ignoring it in vain, I want to embrace it. After all, I run my own small design company and the type of work I produce should theoretically be ideal for social media. So, instead of looking at my introversion as a stumbling block, I’m going to list five introvert’s traits that might actually be an advantage on social media. There seem to be a lot of articles and blogs that attempt to make the case for introverts to BE on social media; however, let’s consider where introverts might have the upper hand!

Introverts seek deeper connections with fewer people.

In social media, engagement is the goal. This is where introverts with a smaller community may excel: they prefer to engage deeply with fewer people, rather than spread themselves thin with an unwieldy list of followers. Instead of the random “small talk”, posts become more focused.

Introverts generally (over)think before they act.

It’s only after a long period of deliberation and consideration that an introvert will take action: and in this way, make each post more intentional. Content isn’t posted carelessly for the simple sake of publishing a post that day. Care is taken to ensure the information is relevant and interesting to the audience, whether it’s for a new blog post or a simple comment on another person’s post. I’ve been known to stress over what kind of emoji to use to capture how I truly feel! If we introverts can overcome the cycle of overthinking, we actually put out some good stuff!

Introverts have laser-focus on topics they care about

When introverts enjoy a subject, they research and investigate it. Then they take long walks and think about the information, reflecting on what they’ve absorbed. The quiet determination to understand content and reflect on it enables introverts to present topics from unusual perspectives. In channel where so many people share the same type of content, and misinformation runs rampant, a knowledgable connection is valuable and worthy of a “follow” or “like”. Extensive knowledge on a topic promotes regular engagement and deepens one’s niche.

Introverts are better writers than speakers  (Caballo & Griffin, 2017)

Like many introverts, I feel like I write better than I speak. Social media gives introverts the opportunity to shine because we can completely bypass the awkward verbal channel and jump right into writing. Good writing attracts readers and keeps them coming back for more.

Introverts aren’t intimidated by small numbers.

Big groups of people are terrifying! And for someone who is handling their own social media, trying to engage a large group feels exhausting and frankly, less than effective. While the popular line of thinking is that the more followers on has, the better, sometimes that’s just not feasible and not workable. Introverts aren’t discouraged by lower numbers of followers and frankly, it’s easier to get to know who your audience is that way!

Introverts aren’t loud and generally not the centre of attention. But that shouldn’t discourage us from having a successful social media presence. We just need to harness those superpowers we do have in making it work for us. It can be difficult to start, but reframing social media as an environment where we can excel might help. I’ve only listed 5 traits, but hey, I’m sure there are more…can you think of any others?

References:

Caballo, F. & Griffin, B. (2017, October 9). How to Crush It on Social Media as an Introvert. Social Media just for Writers. Retrieved on October 15, 2019 from https://socialmediajustforwriters.com/how-to-crush-it-on-social-media-as-an-introvert/

Facebook:

There are many articles out there explaining why introverts should be on social media. But is it possible for introverts to have an advantage? We give you five reasons why introverts rock the social media game.  https://bit.ly/2MPgEB0

Twitter:

Does the meek introvert actually have an advantage on social media? We give you five reasons why they do! https://bit.ly/2MPgEB0

Social Media’s Secret Society

Sometimes, when you search for one thing, you discover another thing entirely. In my case, I was looking for a new social media platform to call home. What I found instead was a secret society.

Image from pexels.com (credit to energepic.com)

On a friend’s recommendation, I decided to try Instagram. After 12 years, my Facebook account had metastasized from a friendly community of good friends to a strange place where I felt uncomfortable. I liked the uncomplicated interface of Instagram and the fact that posts my friends “liked” weren’t necessarily part of my newsfeed. Best of all, Instagram is so wonderfully visual, and that appeals to me as a designer.

Instagram-ready!

I eagerly set up a personal account and followed friends, famous designers, authors, environmental groups, interesting nature photographers, and pet owners. I began gaining followers based on my varied interests, but noticed I’d also lose followers shortly after posting. I realized that photos of natural landscapes didn’t appeal to designers, and posts on typography prompted pet owners to unfollow. I decided to create a more narrowly niched account so I focused on my pets. I take countless images of them and felt I had enough material. Soooo, I ended up being one of THOSE people who sets up an Instagram account for their pet… but it’s all for science, so that’s ok right?

My pets have more friends than me…

My pets gained followers more quickly than I did and tended to retain them. I posted daily and commented regularly on other posts. It felt easier to safely engage within the safety-net of my dog’s persona and soon, I became familiar with a few accounts, and we regularly “chatted”.

A post from Grover’s Instagram page.

The invitation

A few months later, I received a direct message (DM) from an account I engage with frequently; they were inviting me to join their “engagement group”. Apparently, a few people had left the group and there were “openings”. I had never heard of this before! I’ll admit I was a little flattered to be asked to join an invitation-only group and had gained access to a secret society I had never known about! It turns out, this type of group is more common than we think.

An engagement group is also known as a pod. When you publish a new post, you send a direct message to your group, and they’ll like and comment on your post. In theory, this helps to boost engagement and visibility on Instagram, and will help grow your number of followers (Kirbyson, n.d.). There are usually 15-20 in a DM pod. I’ve since learned that there are other types of engagement groups, like the “Telegram” pods that are made up of 1000s of users. You need to engage with a set number of posts (comments and/or like) in a specific period of time before to sending out your own link to the group. This type of arrangement is apparently a lot of work, but you grow your following faster. I can’t imagine myself trying out a Telegram pod: my account is more for fun than to evolve into an influencer, and frankly, who has the time to like 100 posts?

Instagram and Facebook are trying to crack down on “artificial” interactions and I can see their point: it’s difficult to measure a post’s true reach with this type of organization happening backstage. However, I do like my small engagement group. They DM more than just alerts to new posts: they share worries about sick pets, pose questions about Instagram-use, and even share personal news about their families. I think this is more my speed and lends authenticity to our interactions. I enjoy the conversations on DM as much as the interactions on posts.

I don’t have much at stake; I’m not trying to monetize my account. A couple in our group have over 10,000 followers and have been quite successful at promoting themselves and positioning themselves to promote specific brands and these groups seem to be a part of their business. Many of them are part of several groups!

Marching forward

While I’ve seen my number of followers grow, the increase hasn’t been overly dramatic. Admittedly, I’m not posting daily anymore (who has the time with a regular job?!) but that’s ok. Social media has been something I’m not entirely comfortable with. However, my experience on Instagram has been a positive experience. It’s given me the confidence to journey deeper into social media forest and see what else I can uncover!

I’d love to hear if others have been surprised by something they didn’t expect on social media: have you come across anything unexpected (good or bad?)?  Oh, and if you’re interested in checking out a low-risk, pet-obsessed Instagram account, feel free to visit my furballs’ — Loki and Grover — on Instagram!

FACEBOOK:

How my social media journey led to the discovery of a secret society! https://bit.ly/2M6wUhF

TWITTER:

How I stumbled into a secret society on social media. https://bit.ly/2M6wUhF

The Fascinating Irony of Mark Zuckerberg

“Mark Zuckerberg elysee france Nicolas Sarkozy e-G8” 
by cattias.photos is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. If Facebook and I were friends on  Facebook, our relationship status would read “it’s complicated.” It’s great for both actively and passively keeping up with friends, family and organizations, but as an introvert, I generally find the whole experience overwhelming.

The Facebook Empire

Facebook’s growth is almost unimaginable, evolving from a campus directory for Harvard University, into an international “community” of over 1.5 billion daily users (Facebook, 2019). It’s the “cornerstone of digital marketing strategies across a range of industries” (“Facebook’s Policy Changes…”, 2019) and is a titan in the ad business, earning over $ 14.9 billion in the first quarter of 2019 (Gesenhues, 2019). Facebook is a mosh pit of opinions, gossip and drama where constant connections made of likes, shares and follows keeps the newsfeed alive. It’s undoubtedly a loud and busy place!!! What extroverted madman conceived this hyper-connected space? None other than the introverted — and very private entrepreneur — Mark Zuckerberg. Ironically, one of the biggest influencers responsible for shaping social media is, well, “unsociable” (Conley, n.d.).

How he does it

Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly private: not warm and not charismatic. Very little is shared about him. How does this introverted entrepreneur manage to succeed in business? First, he takes advantage of that great focus that introverts tend to posses. This focus allows him to think deeply, by himself, often resulting in increased productivity (Comm, 2016). He also recognizes that he doesn’t have all the skills needed to keep Facebook on the cutting edge of technology, so he surrounds himself with individuals who fill in the gaps he can’t address (DeMers, 2017). He may not exude the charisma that comes so effortlessly to extroverts, but he tends to make deeper connections with smaller groups and individuals. Oh, and being super-intelligent doesn’t hurt either. By making the most of his introverted superpowers and finding others to help fill in the gaps, he stays on top of the trends and technology to ensure Facebook always stays relevant.

How can Mark Zuckerberg’s success in business help other introverted entrepreneurs as they wade into the social media maelstrom?

  1. Introverts should focus on one-on-one connections. Rather than trying to address the mass of people on social media, it’s more helpful to think about one group or person to connect with online.
  2. Stay informed on the technology. Facebook is always changing and innovating to address market needs. It’s important to understand the tools, specs, and settings, because Mark Zuckerberg is probably changing them right now, as you read this…
  3. If you need to bring in an expert or two to help you get set up properly, there’s no shame in that. Writers, designers and social media experts are available to provide their expertise. Apparently Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t even manage his own Facebook account (Zipkin, 2018) but has about a dozen people populating his account with appropriate content.

When you begin to look for introverted entrepreneur success stories, you begin to see that there are so many examples we can learn from. Can you think of any other entrepreneurs who embraced their introverted traits to help them build their companies?


Facebook post:

No one expects the quiet, unassuming introvert to create an empire where over a billion people connect daily. Learn more about the fascinating irony of Mark Zuckerberg and how anxious introverts might apply his techniques to their approach to social media. https://bit.ly/2pwNIpo #facebook #facebookhistory #introvert #socialmedia #markzuckerberg  #zuckerberg #entrepreneurs

Twitter post: 

Lessons for the introverted entrepreneur on the fascinating irony of Mark Zuckerberg https://bit.ly/2pwNIpo #facebook #zuckerberg #introvert #socialmedia #markzuckerberg


References:

Comm, J. (2016, February 2). Mark Zuckerberg’s Top 4 Productivity Secrets. Inc.com. Retrieved on September 29, 2019 from https://www.inc.com/joel-comm/top-4-lessons-for-productivity-on-steroids-according-to-mark-zuckerberg.html

Facebook’s Policy Changes Stand to Impact Your Community’s Digital Marketing Strategy. (2019, September 30). Multifamilybiz.com. Retrieved on September 30, 2019 from https://www.multifamilybiz.com/Blogs/408/

Conley, N. (N.d.). Things you didn’t know about Mark Zuckerberg. Grunge.com. Retrieved on September 27, 2019 from https://www.grunge.com/95485/things-didnt-know-mark-zuckerberg/

Gesenhues, A. (2019, April 25). Facebook ad revenue keeps rising, 3 million advertisers using Stories Ads. MarketingLand. Retrieved October 1, 2019 from https://marketingland.com/facebook-ad-revenue-keeps-rising-3-million-advertisers-using-stories-ads-259965.

DeMers, J. (2017, January 19). 5 Mega-Successful Entrepreneurs Who Are Introverts. Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved September 30, 2019 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286611#targetText=Mark%20Zuckerberg,contradictory%20as%20that%20may%20sound.

Zipkin, N. (2018, October 30). 23 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About Mark Zuckerberg. Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved September 29, 2019 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287422.

4 tips for Introverts who don’t use social media (but want to)

man wearing red bag hiding face in front of computer screen, introverted person
Image licensed from Adobe

I have a confession to make: I’m an introverted entrepreneur. Now, before you pass judgement on that seemingly inconsequential statement, consider a few of the generally accepted qualities of an imagined entrepreneur: charismatic, confident, and a people-person. In my humble opinion I don’t embody those words in the slightest, and I frequently suffer from attacks of imposter-syndrome when it comes to my business. I feel like I’m leading a secret life.

Despite my awkward, introverted self, I started a company almost 10 years ago and focus on a small but loyal market. I had enough work and was happy to spend days alone in my office, focused on work I enjoy, with minimal interaction. Recently though, I’ve felt the increasing pressure to jump into the social media mosh pit. I’ve resisted for so long, hiding my thriving little company in the solitude of my office, afraid of judgement, criticism and confrontation. But my clients are asking to incorporate social media strategies into their projects, and their markets are on social media as well. Close to 90% of Canadians are connected online and over 60% of them use social media every day (McKinnon, 2019), so there’s no doubt that social media is relevant and important. I decided it was time to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s time that I peek out from behind my desk and dip a toe into the social media swim. 

Does that mean I start plating my sad leftovers so they’re suitable for Instagram? Do I start wearing makeup and practicing my duck-face for all those selfies I’ll need? Will I need to loudly claim the social causes, political affiliations and charities I might be involved in? NO. I’ve chosen not to. I’m slowly wading into the social media pool party in my own unobtrusive way.

Making the leap

How am I making this transition? By making small, simple steps that build my relationship and comfort-level with social media at my own pace: 

  1. Observe. I have to study something before I get involved. Social media is no exception. So rather than just starting random accounts and jumping in, I’ve spent some time browsing through the groups and posts on different channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I want to learn what people are saying and what topics are getting attention. What voice do the organizations that I admire use? I also ask my friends and other trusted colleagues in my industry how they use social media (and I lurk on their accounts!). 
  2. Understand that I choose what I post. You don’t have to announce anything you don’t feel comfortable with. Some people love going into the fine details of their kid’s accomplishments, family traditions, and frustrations with work, the world and all that’s under the sun. That’s fine. But if you don’t feel comfortable with that level of sharing, then don’t feel obligated to follow suit. Marisa Quinn wrote a terrific article on 10 Things About Social Media That Make Me Uncomfortable As An Introvert. You can focus on other things that don’t feel like they’re encroaching dangerously close to your personal space. You’re your own social media filter! 
  3. Ignore the numbers. Social media follows, likes and connections sometimes feel like the measure of your success on a specific platform. That’s ok if those numbers are meaningful to you but personally, this introvert prefers to focus on a smaller group of people, just like in real life. Once you start your account, you don’t need to follow every person recommended to you. Curate your community to serve your purposes. Having a more meaningful group will make it easier to connect and engage with them once you’re ready. 
  4. Be selective. You don’t need a presence on every platform. Find out where your audience spends their time and focus your efforts on that platform.

As an entrepreneur, the benefits of social media are hard to ignore, but as an introvert, it can leave you feeling anxious. Just remember that social media doesn’t mean you have to give up your privacy. Even though it’s always on, you’re not. Take it at your own pace, and when you’ve had enough, you can simply log out. 

Meme of character Ron Burgundy from the movie "Anchorman" saying "I'm not anti-social, I'm selectively social. There's a difference."
Image from Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror

If you’re an introverted entrepreneur, we’d love to learn how you approach social media! Let us know in the comments: what works, what doesn’t work or what worries you most?

Check back soon for my next blog post, where I feature one of the most successful introverted entrepreneurs and look at the major impact he’s had on social media. 

Social media can feel like the big, loud party you never wanted to go to: find out how one introverted entrepreneur eased her way in to join the party (from a safe distance of course!).  #introvert #entrepreneur #socialmedia #adviceforintroverts #business #freelance #businessadvice

Social media isn’t always easy for #introverts: 4 tips on how you can ease into the #socialmedia stream.  #introvert #entrepreneur #socialmedia #adviceforintroverts #business #freelance #businessadvice

References in the text: 

McKinnon, M. (2019, June 30). 2019 Report: Social Media Use in Canada. CanadasInternet.com. Retrieved on September 16, 2019 from https://canadiansinternet.com/2019-report-social-media-use-canada/

Quinn, M. (2016, November 3). 10 Things About Social Media That Make Me Uncomfortable As An Introvert. Introvertdear.com. Retrieved on September 17, 2019 from https://introvertdear.com/news/introvert-social-media-things-that-make-me-uncomfortable/