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How to Promote Yourself (While Maintaining Your Self-Respect)

‘Better Internetting’ is our etiquette column for a better (digital) you

I am a freelance writer by trade. This means any time something I’ve written gets published somewhere, it’s in my best interest to share it on social media. Before this current gig, I won two Emmy awards for my fire branded tweets, and all that practice has made me a relentless copywriting demon—it also means that sloppy promotion hurts my feelings when I spot it in the wild. Your projects are cool! Your self-promotion should be, too!

Here are my tips on how to promote yourself without looking or feeling gross:

Don’t call it “a thing”

This is a popular Twitter pet peeve, and enough people have griped about it over the years that it’s more of a style rule than a suggestion: If you’re sharing something you’ve worked on, don’t minimize it by saying “I made a thing” and unceremoniously dropping a link behind it. Whether it’s an unboxing video for your YouTube channel or a review of the new Chance the Rapper song, do us all a favor and use specific nouns. Our feeds are full of “things,” and yours is special. Tell us why. Something as simple as, “Proud of this piece I worked on!” is already a vast improvement, because at least we know you care about whatever you made.

We already like you! Act like it!

Realistically, you probably have three words to get someone’s attention in this world, so when you start the Facebook caption for your project with “I know you guys see stuff like this all day long …,” I’m not giving you ’til sentence two. I’ve already scrolled by. No one likes to be apologized to, and being ambushed by an apology in a social media feed is even less sexy. Assume your audience already thinks you are worth their time. They friended and/or followed you, right? They’ll happily check out your Kickstarter if you respect their time and tell them why it matters.

Talk to us like we’re people

Even if you’re sharing something work-related, don’t fall into work-speak in your promo. It’s us! Your buddies! We’re here to look at Vines of babies eating beans and fav tweets about André 3000, and if you speak to us like we’re friends at a house party (instead of the audience for your graduation speech), we’ll hear you out. Don’t open a conversation with a stilted “As you may,” or “Have you ever … ?” Skip the transitional phrasing and get to the statements and declarations right off the bat. “This rules.” Nailed it.

Don’t “ICYMI” me

“ICYMI” or “In case you missed it” is a popular preface on posts where people are hoping to gracefully resurface something they’ve already posted about recently. But, there are ways to bump your original post up in people’s feeds without spamming your loved ones. On Facebook, just replying to some of the comments or liking people’s replies gives it fresh activity that prompts the algorithm to re-cycle it through people’s news feeds. On Twitter, replying to your own original tweet with, “Bumping this for night Twitter!” or something equally transparent does the same thing. I know you’re proud of your project, but focus on making your original post about it rock solid instead of blasting out thirty separate posts like you’re the corporate account for a car company.

Tag like someone who has used a computer before

Ever just absentmindedly search #catcharities in your downtime to poke around? Well, no one else does, either. Tag in ways that might realistically help people find your post. I know you’ve seen “funny” hashtags out there over the years, but their actual purpose is search, so unless it’s a current trending topic or you’re contractually obligated, don’t do it. They look sloppy, and the margin of misusing one or just coming off like a doofus is … high. I promise they’ll do less for your post than not using them will. That said, on both Twitter and Facebook you should make sure you @ any relevant proper nouns. For example: “Here’s the reel @Dave and I put together for @Christine’s Cool Small Business!” Now, the people who care about you, Dave and Christine’s Cool Small Business (your target demo!) are more likely to see your reel. The dream!

Christine Friar is a writer in Brooklyn, NY.

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