For the last few years we’ve been doing a lot of public speaking for a wide variety of audiences. We’ve talked about everything from traditional vs. interactive design, to privacy and security in the digital age, to work culture and user experience. But the one topic that we get the most requests for is still social media — for both business and personal use. But Meghan and I don’t try to teach people how to use social media tools. Instead, we spend our time talking about how to think about social as it relates to telling our stories; telling our personal and professional stories, and our company stories. We talk about being deliberate and thoughtful about the creation of those stories, and that approach seems to resonate with so many people. And it’s surprising because you’d think that the subject of social media would be worn out and over by now. I mean it’s been the topic du jour for the last couple of years. How can there possibly be anything more to be said?
At every one of our speaking engagements, we met people who’d ask us where they could buy our book. We actually pitched a book about social media to Peachpit, but the feedback was what we expected: there couldn’t possibly be any interest in our book because the subject of social media was exhausted. Still, people asked for it. Last year we did a series in-depth workshops for the Minnesota Regional Arts Council. We didn’t just want to talk to these folks about how to think about building and supporting their arts organizations with social, we wanted to create some useful tools to guide them through the process. So we assembled a workbook to accompany the presentation and it was pretty well received. From there we realized that this was the point of difference: we could provide value in the steps to thinking about social, along with instructional context to illuminate the kinds of possibilities that existed there.
For the last six months we’ve been refining that approach, and the content, and we’re proud to announce our first e-book, Social Media For Humans: Minding and Managing Your Personal Brand Online is now available to download. Publishers may not have seen the value of another social media book, but people were asking for it. We couldn’t ignore the pretty constant demand for an easy, digestible, overview of social media and personal branding.
In recent weeks I’ve seen some pushback around the concept of people being brands. I get that. We live in a culture where we tend to commercialize everything and the idea that people could be deliberate about their brand stories suggests a lack of authenticity. That’s not at all what our book encourages. It’s not about over-promoting yourself as an individual, or being contrived or less than genuine about the stories you tell. Instead, what we hope our e-book does accomplish has more to do with encouraging people to be thoughtful about how they are represented with content online. We take time to think about how big companies and brands should be perceived. Yet when it comes to ourselves — we just jump in blindly with no rhyme or reason, and then we act surprised when privacy settings change or our friends post content and we are somehow misrepresented. If businesses have social media strategies and plans why can’t individuals be at least sort of mindful? We think they can be. And they should be. That’s why we put together our workbook and called it Social Media For Humans. (You can also read a related blog post that Meghan wrote in 2010 to help explain our approach to social media for individuals.)
We are pretty proud of this book. We hope you enjoy it. Tell your friends. Send them our way. Download the book. It makes a great holiday gift! As always, any questions, comments or feedback are more than welcome. And thanks for spending time with the Geek Girls Guide.