A Little Humility Can Go A Long Way

Photo by bionicteaching
08.19.2013By

The other day, I was scanning my Twitter feed as I am wont to do, and I came upon a tweet regarding an upcoming conference. The tweet said something like, “My friend is hosting an all-star cast at this event.” I clicked the link (curiosity does indeed kill the cat), and the person who sent the tweet was one of the “all stars” on the list of presenters. My initial and continuing reaction was a resounding, “Ew.”

In the online world, there is a tricky balancing act one must do that involves promoting your cause or your organization versus not coming across as too promotional. What I am increasingly finding as I navigate the online world is that people are blurring the line between promoting their cause or company, and promoting themselves as an individual.

There could be a lot of explanations for this trend. Perhaps people think, in a rational sort of way, that if they can draw attention to themselves, they will, by default, also draw attention to their cause or organization. We must also hypothesize, though, that perhaps the temptation to get that ego massage sometimes begins to outweigh the benefits of promoting your organization or your cause.

What gets even more tricky is when something really exciting or positive happens within your organization. How can you report the good news to your community without coming across as being too self-serving? Here are a few suggestions.

Balance Your Types of Content

People will usually be ok with a little bit of promotion now and then. If you brag, promote all of the time, or seem to just broadcast news about your own organization without actually interacting with your community, you will have less leeway. If you promote other people in your community regularly, if you offer good (objective) informational resources, and do a good job of engaging with your community, you will tend to get a little more room to promote your own cause.

Mix Good News With Gratitude

As a nonprofit, it is important to remember that your success is in large part owed to your donors. That being said, when you announce a success, make sure you incorporate gratitude to your community. Help them feel like they are a part of that “feel-good” story. In fact, in an ideal situation, you can go one step further and show how the contributions you received helped make that good event happen. When you include other people you are not just self-promoting. Instead you are informing and congratulating the community as a whole.

Don’t Beat Around the Bush

One of the turn-offs for me about the tweet I mentioned at the start of this post was that it was sort of misleading. By sending out a tweet about “all-stars,” the person was sort of bragging yet not bragging. Do not play games with your audience. If you are proud of something, just say that you are proud of whatever that news may be. It is ok to celebrate successes, but when you start to layer cloudy layers of cover over your true meaning, people begin to find you less credible.

Remember, It’s Not About You

Even if you are using an individual account to try to raise awareness about your cause as a whole, it is essential to remember that you are not striving for individual success. If you are using your social media presence to help promote your organization, that is where your focus needs to be.

It’s very easy to get distracted by individual benchmarks for online success like “best of” lists, Klout scores, and more, but ultimately, your success as an individual will not necessarily equate to success for your cause as a whole. Be honest with yourself as you network online. If you find that you are mostly working on your own behalf, it is time to separate your individual account from that of your organization.

How do you maintain humility while also promoting your cause on social media platforms? What would you add to these recommendations? We’d love to hear from you!

  • Great tips Margie! I’m with you – a lack of humility gets old pretty quickly. That’s one of the reasons I’m less likely to follow a self-proclaimed “expert” or “guru” on a specific topic. There are plenty of experts out there that don’t tout themselves as such and tend to share higher-quality, less self-promotional content. I’ll stick to following them.

    Thanks for the post. I’ll be sharing it (via @wiredimpact) later today.