An Introverted PR Practitioner’s Guide to Social Media

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you know that I’m a very strong introvert, and I used to feel like I was at a disadvantage in the world of social media. I imagined that the perfect PR practitioner would have hundreds of Twitter followers and constantly create viral content.

At the same time, all I had to do was take one look around my office to realize that public relations attracts all kinds of personalities, and everyone brings a different skill set to the table. Since social media is so important in public relations, it only makes sense that introverts and extroverts would have different strengths in that area as well.

So I’ve made it my mission over the past few months to find out what some of the best social media practices are for introverted PR practitioners. I started following people who were talking about this topic, and here’s what I’ve learned:

1.    Change your perspective

I had always thought of social media as overwhelming, as evidenced the sheer number of tweets on my Twitter feed every day. But after reading Susan Cain’s article in TIME magazine, “Why Gadgets Are Great for Introverts,” I started looking at social media in a completely new way.

Rather than painting social media as a constant barrage of conversations, Cain points out that these platforms can actually become an introvert’s best friend. She says this so beautifully that I’m not even going to try to paraphrase:

[On social media] You don’t have to wade through small talk before you get to main point. You have time to think before you speak. You can connect, one mind with another, freed from the distractions of social cues and pleasantries — just the way readers and writers have done for centuries.

2.    Listen to the conversation first

Introverts are good listeners already, so why not start listening to what people are saying on social media?

Do the research and monitor what people are saying about your client or your interests. That way when you do decide to jump in and start participating, you’ll feel more prepared. You’ll have a good sense of where others are coming from and who to network with. Which brings me to my third point…

3.    Share with specific people

One of the most interesting things I read came from Maya Townsend, the founder of a networking company…and a self-described introvert. Whenever she comes across an article she likes, she asks herself who else would be interested in reading it, and then she passes it along.

It’s so simple, and yet I realized that I never actually did that. Part of my job is to read the local newspaper every morning, and I always think about other people when I read the articles.

A tweet like, “There’s a new Thai food place coming in town – @(name), this made me think of you!” would take less than a minute, and since the person I’m mentioning would probably already be interested in the content, it could be the start of a new online friendship.

4.    Value quality over quantity

I actually came across this tip in an unexpected place – the blog of Chris Westfall, the national elevator pitch champion. He’s an extreme extrovert, and he wrote this blog about how he feels introverts actually have an advantage in social media!

I was skeptical at first, but his reasoning makes sense. He says that while he would rather be out connecting with people face-to-face, telling his story without a script, an introvert’s “rich inner life” lends itself to deeper, more thoughtful written content posted online.

So let’s run with that! Don’t worry so much about tweeting 15 times a day. Take the time to read and reflect on what you want to say, and when you say it, people will appreciate your commitment to posting the best content you possibly can.

5.    Become an online extrovert

Social media consultant Mack Collier says his Facebook page describes him as an “Online extrovert, offline introvert. It’s complicated.”

I love that.

I wouldn’t go so far as to act like a completely different person online, but take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to worry about introducing yourself on Facebook or Twitter.

Joining a conversation on social media is so much easier than joining one in real life – you just jump right in and can leave whenever you want to.

Are you an introvert in public relations? What’s helped you in the social media world?

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About Tara Knott

Tara is a staff associate at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Belmont University, where she studied journalism and public relations.

Posted on December 6, 2012, in Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. All of this is too true. As someone with a background in social media, I can tell you that being an online extrovert in today’s world often comes first — before you even meet your client or customers face to face. You’re often already prepared by the time you have to take the stage.

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