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How Can We Brag Without it KILLING Our On-Line Credibility?

Dec 04, 2012 04:24PM ● Published by Lisa Drake

I taught Batman all he knows...

Nobody likes a braggart, but all of us want to brag...at least a little. Business owners and entrepreneurs know that, in the Digital Age, social media can be one of the best ways to build our clientele. Ah, but here's the pickle. If we toot our horns too much, we can risk turning others off. I train writers how to survive and thrive in the new publishing paradigm, and most of those tips apply to anyone trying to use social media to find loyal and enthusiastic fans (buyers). What works for the author can work for the restauranteur, the Scentsy rep, the Avon lady or the little boutique on the corner...

When is It Okay to Brag? Don't...

Advertise Our Personal Awesomeness

Unsubstantiated self-praise is just annoying, and highly likely to violate social norms make people want to shove you in a microwave.

"My books are sheer genius. Why wouldn't they be? They were written by a genius. ME."

Use Someone Else's Glory to Make Ourselves Look Good

Let the other person shine. When we try to share the shine, we just spotlight that we are an a$$clown.

"You liked Piper Bayard's book? I gave her all her ideas. In fact, she is lost without me."

Fixate on One Achievement

"Can we talk about how I made #1 in the Men's Midget Sci-Fi Steampunk Romance Category on Amazon?"

"This reminds me of the time I leg-pressed 500 pounds in the men's weightlifting championship."

"Yes, well not everyone can score 160 on an IQ test, but I nailed it at 165. I think I would have scored better if I'd been sober."

Use a Disclaimer to Talk About Our Success

"I'm so sorry your Aunt Myrtle passed on. Well, not to brag, but my book has helped people cope with grieving. They were so caught up in its AWESOMENESS, they forgot to cry...well, until the end when they realized the book was OVER. Now free on Amazon *elbow nudge, wink, wink* Free all week, but time's running out :D."

Make False Claims

Okay, DUH. Writing our own reviews is just D-U-M-B. Don't do it. Don't say your book is the best thing since The Hunger Games. If other people, readers, reviewers want to say that, then fine. If we say it, we are not objective so it is automatically a false claim.

This applies to ANY business. Don't review your own restaurant, car wash, plumbing service. It's wrong, biased and kinda creepy.

Talk About Money or Sales. EVER.

It's gauche to brag you make six figures at a party and it's gauche to do it on-line. If people want to know your sales, how much money you made, how many books you sold, they can marry you. It's tacky to ask and tacky to tell. I know this is a fine line for some of us non-fiction/self-help authors, but we will talk testimonials in a moment.

I've seen some authors blunder this BIG TIME. If you are using your blog to tell the world how you sold zillions of books and now you don't take WATER baths, when you can just scrub yourself in crisp Benjamins, we all just hate you. There is a time and place for this. Just trust me.

In this new paradigm we all need each other, and if other people on Facebook are plotting ways to toss us off a cliff, it's hard to get their support when we need it.

Bragging is Okay When...

We Brag About Others

This is one of the reasons I feel we need to actively participate on social media. We meet people and get to know them, so we quickly see who deserves a pat on the back. We can use bragging to forge relationships and help others navigate the murky waters of meeting others on-line, by being a Connector...

"How are you? Have you met Gene Lamis? I was in Rotary with him for ages. He's a super nice guy and I bring all my investing stuff to him."

"Oh, if you want some great fiction, check out Jody Hedlund or Tawna Fenske. Both ladies are wonderful writers and they are super sweet, too."

"You have a hard time plotting your novels? Get to know James Scott Bell. He is an AMAZING author and teacher."

"The best place for Gluten Free Pizza? Palio's on S. Cooper."

People can't get enough of this type of bragging so long as it is genuine. We can spot a phoney from a mile away, so fake praise, even if we are praising others, can ruin our credibility. I NEVER praise a book, a blog, an author, a business or a service unless I have vetted them first.

I once had a friend who got very angry with me because I wouldn't RT his blogs. I told him (nicely, gently and delicately) that, if he wanted me to RT his blogs, then he needed to write better blogs.

Sometimes we have to use tough love and if the person stops being your friend, then so be it. They weren't that vested in the relationship anyway, and they shouldn't put us in that spot if they can't take an honest answer.

Protect your name, protect your business, protect your brand. Don't just praise anyone. If people can't trust our praise, they won't trust us (our brand) and that's bad juju.

But, if you engage on social media, it shouldn't be long until you spot someone worthy of your praise. Often when we see someone who is always actively praising others, it makes us curious to know more about them. Why? Because we can't help but LIKE them. We support who we LIKE. Not rocket science, here. It's the Law of Reciprocity and it works wonders.

Bragging is Okay in Our Bios

Want to tell people you made a best-seller list? Want to tell people you sold 10,000 books? 100,000? A MILLION? Go for it! Put it in your social media bios, as part of an e-mail signature or even on your blog in the About Me section or in the footer. Those are natural places we will look for people to list their achievements, sales numbers, rave reviews and praise.

For instance, we WANT to know if someone went to Harvard, their degree, achievements, clubs, titles...on their resume. THAT is a good place to tell us about achievements.

I graduated top of my class from Harvard and was voted Most Likely to Succeed.

See? Natural. But if we put this same sentence on Twitter or at a cocktail party when no one asks? We just become That A$$ from Harvard who graduated top of her class, voted Most Likely to Be Unfollowed and Talked About...in a BAD Way.

Same with our books, business or services. People want to know if we are a best-selling author, a top-rated chef, or an award-winning landscape artist, and they won't be offended to see it in our bios. But if we tweet about it all the time and never shut up about our achievements and how much money we are making?

*rolls eyes*

This is one of the reasons that reviews and testimonials are great to have for our website. So, if you want to highlight some reader/customer reviews on your web site, go for it (so long as they were written by REAL reviewers/readers and not by you).

Bragging is Okay ONCE

Social media is social, so if you win a contest, grab a #1 spot, land an agent, or get a publishing deal, make a huge goal, we DO want to hear about it and celebrate your victory. But, after that initial announcement? NO MAS. When we keep tooting our own horn, we really risk alienating others.

Also, I would never brag about money. If you want to brag, feel free to tell people how many books you sold or houses you sold or whatever (and let them do the math), but even then BE CAREFUL.

I know sometimes this is necessary for those of us teaching "How To" or offering consulting, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't handle this with some class. Those who brag about money will quickly turn others off.

The cool thing is that, if you are doing social media properly, then you will have forged some great relationships, so WE can brag about you because you deserve it...and also so we aren't bragging about ourselves :D.

Do you get annoyed when people brag too much on social media? Does it not bother you at all? Are there other instances it's okay to toot our own horn? Did I miss one? Do you feel weird telling your achievements at ALL? I love hearing from you!

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