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 Award-winning business author and broadcaster

Leadership trainer and coach

Keynote speaker

  • Writer's pictureAudrey Tang

Friends are not your marketing minions!

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

A common "meme" I see on social media is "This is a random egg...friends will share pictures of a random egg, but if you start a business they don't share that."...the post goes on to ask people in a slightly less passive aggressive tone to "give some love to the friends who run their own business."

Some of you who, like me, "are" your brand, with a facebook, instagram and twitter page might well be nodding - "Damn them, they can't even be bothered to share my latest blog!" But is this really fair?

Social media is a powerful tool for business, yes, but it is also used for people who simply want to keep in touch with each other; to share their news; to show relatives overseas that their children have graduated, or celebrate with friends they don't see so often that they've moved house, or eaten a lovely birthday meal. As a brand and as a "personal consumer" - you are both.

Remember who your friends are.

Friends and family are not a free marketing team

My friends and family are not people who I've enlisted to do my brand marketing for free. If they want to share one of my "Dr Audrey" posts because they find it useful and think their friends will too - great (and thank you!!), and there is an element of my asking them "please share" if we are all working on a project together, but their role in the life of Mrs Audrey Sanderson is to be in the photos making memories that I like to keep for myself...and maybe pop in a blog! (The lovely girls pictured are all ok with this!!)

Next time you feel a little aggrieved ask yourself this: How many posts of your friends' work do you share? Actually, firstly, they probably don't share that many because they don't need to talk about their job at xxx, so secondly, instead think about how many of your friends' new dog/new baby/new house posts you share. Privacy aside, those are the things that they are as passionate about as you are about your business...blurring the lines slightly, what about charity causes they are supporting? Do you share those?

You cannot judge people (especially not negatively, and even more especially not your friends) by the amount of interaction they have with your pet projects. (It's the same mantra I use as a self improvement coach - if they want it, they will come, but as a creator, I will continue to produce the content so it's there when it is needed.) I was asked at a workshop recently "How do I get people more passionate about sharing the charity I'm spearheading". The answer is, you focus on YOUR enjoyment of doing it, and on acknowledging the ones that are, and don't negate or hate on the ones that don't. It's your passion project and NO-ONE will ever be as passionate about it as you...otherwise THEY would be doing it.

The social network is used for social networking - on a personal level too! Don't cross the streams!

When you are your brand, your marketing strategy is to post a regular stream of content, but that is your job. No-one said it was easy. If your friends shared everything you posted, yes, maybe you'd be going viral by now, but that's not necessarily why they are on social media. They don't want their walls which they share with their friends and relatives covered with whatever you are doing next!!

Yes, a "like" does "bump" up the visibility of the post itself, but a comment is - at least to me - more meaningful, because it means I connected with the reader in some way through what I do. BUT this can also mean managing negative comments as well.

At the moment - in my early stages of growing my work, I have the capacity to always try to respond to all comments within 24 hours, as the positive ones are encouraging and may be asking for more information, any negatives will always have something I can learn. And, the way I see it, engagement means you've connected, and it can give you a chance to open a discussion. Further, it's worth remembering that sometimes, if you are making an impact there will be some negativity. Managing it is part of growth.

Photos of friends are to capture a memory not an "opportunity for likes"!

But perhaps this comes down to how and why you are using social media. My husband, who allowed me to include this photo, used to say to me "I made that joke for you not for facebook" - which was a large part in my rethinking my online behaviour. I will always ask if I want to post a picture as it will be shared in, essentially, an open forum - and I'm especially careful around photos of friends' children.

If you have read my previous post about cutting down my social media usage, since writing that I have now pretty much come off my personal facebook page (and deleted the app from my phone(!!)...preferring to use the facebook business app to schedule posts for "Dr Audrey Tang".) I say "Pretty much" because when I'm on my desktop to share a brand blog (like this) I will take a moment to respond to any personal tags or to share a charity post for a wider reach...the clever, or frustrating, part of facebook is that one cannot have a business page without a personal one, but I'm making it work.

If friends/family are promoting their work and it works for you both, great!

Sometimes my friends join me in my work, one of them, pictured above, made a perfect Fairy-tale princess Cinderella when we did a special location shoot for The Chrissy B Show another was a fabulous Tinkerbell. I also know that there are a number of entrepreneurs in the family including my cousin who runs Pop up Street Food "Tangy's Tasty Stuff" and my brother-in-law's "Lost Boys Brewery" Photos with them which showcase what we do are always mutually appreciated. But even in photos that go on your personal page - try and spare a thought for everyone on display!

Some tips

Social media often crosses two worlds - the personal network and the public one. I find it helps me to do the following:

1. I keep a personal page (under a different name) as well as a brand page. This is really because I joined facebook before I had a brand. If I were to do it again, I would probably make my personal profile my brand page OR, open a personal profile under a false name to support a brand page, and not invite anyone to be my "friend" - but depending on how you wish to grow your brand, this is something others are far more qualified to advise you on. But, in terms of salvaging that situation, this way I keep the difference clear in my head - when I am a creator, and when I am a consumer.

2. My personal page is "locked down" and not "everyone" is my "friend", my brand pages are public.

3. My brand pages "talk" to each other (what I post on instagram goes onto facebook and, for me, reaches a different audience), and I find scheduling posts an efficient use of time. A social media presence is essential, but it doesn't need to take over my life!

4. I will always ask if I want to post picture of my friends and family as relating to my work. (As I said, I've withdrawn from my personal profile.)

5. I thank my friends when they share a brand post - they have no obligation to do so!

Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt


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