Self-Promotion Through Social Media – Don’t Be A Narcissist

This is a guest post from Cori, is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ as well as the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding.

The first half of the title of this blog post is a shining example of an oxymoron, as in: don’t be a moron.

OK, fine… that was a little mean. I’m generally pretty nice, so don’t take it personally.

Really though, using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as an extension of your “advertising media strong-arm” is one of the worst possible things you can do for your career or business.

And I say that in the nicest possible way.

Does that mean you can’t use social media to market a business? Of course not, I do it all the time. But you have to play by the rules otherwise you’ll get snubbed!

Narcissists in Social Media

Honestly though, there is no room for narcissists in social media circles; not if you actually want to use social media with any kind of effectiveness.

There’s no room for “I” based scenarios. You know, as in “Please can I pimp you something now?

OK that might be a lie… so maybe there is a little room for pimping here and there—but only when it’s strategic and not the primary focus of your message on your networks. If people really wanted to be buried under a bunch of ads, they would just watch T.V. Just sayin’.

Most of the time, it’s all about “you”—as in “you” the people… the people in your network, your fans, your followers, and everyone else in your social media circle.

It’s not about what “I” want today – it’s about what “you” want today.

It’s not about what “you” can do for “me,” – it’s what “I” can do for “you.”

Gettin’ it yet?

Social Media Sensations

So, to be a social media sensation, you need to take a sort of counterintuitive perspective on self-promotion. That simply means that you can’t overtly promote yourself, and your services and/or products, in the social media sphere.

You can’t treat your Twitter and Facebook accounts as your bulletin or advertising board. That strategy will be the equivalent of standing in the middle of New York Time Square shouting, “Hey guys, look at me! I’m Cori and I’m the BEST copywriter in the world! Come, look at me! I’m great, get me, hire me!” (But you totally can by the way… hire me that is!)

Sure, there are lots of people walking about the square—there’s some great traffic. This is much like social media—lots of people there too. Millions, even. Your target market is there, so why not blast them with a bit of shameless self-promotion?

The short answer?

Because they can just as easily shut you out as listen to a lick you have to say—as in your Twitter followers can un-follow you and your Facebook fans can un-fan themselves. If you become too loud (Translation: too many useless tweets or status updates that clutter the feeds), people can easily delete you out of their own accounts and you’ve just lost the potential to cultivate a valuable and meaningful connection.

Networking 101

Social media is all about making meaningful connections—relationships, if you will. So instead of the New York Time Square, consider instead a local neighborhood cafe. In these haunts, you have the baristas and the regular clients who you see almost every time you visit.

If you hang out long enough, you get to know them.

After a few small talks here and there, you become close acquaintances. You get to know what they do, and they get to know what you do, too.

“Oh, you’re in publishing. Cool!”

“Yeah, and you’re a writer. That’s nice! Maybe we can work on a project sometime. I’ve one coming up. Maybe you can show me your work.” See how that works?

It’s networking 101. You don’t advertise. You need to be genuinely interested in people and in building connections with them. People need to get to know you first—or at the very least, recognize that you make some sense and you’re not a total dweeb just trying to make a buck.

They need to know that you have something good and helpful to say. They also need to know that you know how to listen to them—that what they’re saying matters to you, too.

Sharing Information

Social media is also about sharing information – tons of it. And that, perhaps, is the best way to promote what you know and what you can do. If you want to be recognized as a leader in your field, you need to share what you know. You should use your social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook and blogs—to share information.

Just be careful that you don’t go overboard and simply become a broadcaster, someone who is just constantly telling people things. You might end up being perceived as a ‘Know It All’ rather than someone simply looking to share information and help people.

You can do this by making an effort to share consistently. If you want your fans or followers to get hooked, you need to post blogs and tweets on a regular (or in my case semi-regular) basis.

Responding to Promotion

You also need to converse with your circle of people. Somebody retweeted your link? Thank them. Somebody commented on your post? Reply back. Somebody posted a message on your Facebook Wall? Post something back.

See that little give and take scenario?

That’s how self-promotion through social media works. So don’t be a narcissist. Or a dweeb.

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  1. says

    Great post. We are real estate agents and realtors are notorious for “check out my house listing” or “use us” type social media posts. I want to throw up when I see these!

    We use social media to promote a fun event in our community, and if by chance someone notices the post is coming from a real estate company, cool! If not, that’s ok.
    .-= New from Colleen 16th Annual Safe Kids Saturday =-.

    • says

      Thanks so much Colleen! Glad you enjoyed it! :) I think your strategy is infinitely more engaging than as you said, the ‘use us’ type posts. lol Who doesn’t like fun? Social media is about relationships first, selling something a dim second.


  2. says

    Just as in real-life, narcissism is a turn-off. So it stands to reason that “I” in social media is too. Think in terms of what your audience is interested in and cater to them. But don’t come off as a salesman.

    • says

      Agreed Jim! :) Treat it like you’d treat a real live social hour… you wouldn’t have drinks in a bar with your buddies, and pitch them a hard sales pitch or talk all about yourself… so don’t do it with social media.


  3. says

    The section about sharing is my favorite part of this post. That is what puts social in social media.

    Awesome. Thanks for writing. Tough topic! No one likes to be thought of as narcissistic and self-serving, but so much of social media in business, is “Yeah, yeah, what you have to say is OK… but, look at me!!”
    .-= New from Tia – In Business Blogging, Subtlety is Overrated =-.

    • says

      Thanks Tia! 😀 Glad you enjoyed the post… and agreed, social is being.. well social! You wouldn’t walk up to someone at a party and say hey, I’m Cori, buy my sh$%. LOL Well, maybe some would but not me!

  4. says

    So, Cori, whose social media strategy do you admire? Because to me, it seems the most successful Webpreneurs are a bit on the narcissist side of the personality continuum!

  5. says

    I am with you on pretty much all of this, but at the same time I tend to buck “unwritten” rules (well written ones too LOL). I just use Twitter in the same way I would use a regular conversation while I am networking anywhere else. The ONLY rules I try to follow is that I don’t follow bots, and I don’t follow people that are spewing negative stuff…..

    Yes I promote “self”, but I promote others way more than “self”. I also probably have more @replies than I have links in my stream, but I do all that naturally. Let’s face it, some people are just all about “I” (I suspect they are the same ones that have to have every new “i” gadget that comes out, maybe the 2 are related?), and even though we don’t get to hear actual tones on social media, personalities still shine though…
    .-= New from Keith Social Media Monday’s Episode 1 =-.

    • says

      Thanks Keith! And agreed, I believe personality totally shows through when it comes to social media… I mean if you’re a jerk you’re a jerk right? lol It’s gonna come out!

      I think you’ve got a pretty good strategy based on what you’ve said, and if it’s working for you… then you know you’re doing some thing right! :) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment hun!


  6. says

    Good topic especially when you see so much of abuse in almost all of the social networking platforms.
    It is true that you should use social networking platforms for promotion of your business but it should not be in the form of an advertisement.
    It is a fact that all of us irrespective of how successful we are, are always on the lookout for some or, the other products and when we see it being promoted by somebody we know, even if it is just a 2-day association, we feel all the more inclined towards looking at the option of ordering it from them. This is the power of social networking.
    .-= New from R Kumar @ Internet Entrepreneurship Tips Increase Search Engine Ranking using SEO Linkvine =-.

    • says

      Agreed… :) Making a connection on a more personal level makes someone much more inclined to think of you when considering purchasing a product or service that you might specialize in… it’s just a fact, the majority of people buy from that which they know!


  7. says

    Your logic is flawed, Cori.

    You wrote, “…it’s all about “you”—as in “you” the people… the people in your network, your fans, your followers, and everyone else in your social media circle.”

    How can one have a follower or a fan if one isn’t talking about oneself? If 10 people talk about John, wouldn’t John be followed more than the 10 people?
    .-= New from Ari Herzog@Digital Communications Strategies Why Social Media is a Stupid Term and How You Can Help =-.

    • says

      Hey Ari!

      Well I did say there was a little room for ‘pimping’ yourself and your products. :)

      You’re right, if there was NO self-promo, no one would know about you. But the idea is to be smart about it, not shove your self down people’s proverbial throats.

      And the message is that if you focus primarily on yourself and selling people your services or products… eventually they’re going to tell you to take a hike because you’re not relating on any sort of personal level with them. You’re just another ‘sales’ guy.

      The bottom line is that people don’t care about you and what you have to offer until they know that you care about them… and social media is a great platform to make those connections, relate to people, and show you care… but if all you do is Tweet and Facebook about yourself and what you have to offer…the next product you’re selling… etc… you’re only having a one way lovefest with yourself! But to each their own! lol


    • says

      Hey Dennis!

      Well I hear slow and steady wins the race! :) And agreed, product reviews 6 days a week would be a total turn off for me as well! lol It’s important to offer some sort of value to people who are taking the time to read your stuff… especially with the veritable fountain of unlimited information they could read in it’s stead! :)


    • says

      True! I’m actually almost painfully shy in person when you first meet me (till you get to know me, then I’m a pain in the arse, lol) I think if you keep in mind that people are on the other side of your Tweets and updates, and remember that you should fair pretty well. :)


  8. says

    There are so many ways to utilize social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook but I agree that using it as billboard to only promote your product or services is just a big waste of time and won’t get you too far.
    .-= New from Danny @ Tampa Real Estate Tampa Bank Owned Homes =-.

    • says

      Thanks Danny! I agree, there are a ton of different ways. But the bottom line to keep in mind is that they are primarily social networks… so be social already! Even if just socially professional. Or something. :)


  9. says

    For social media article I always admire Kikolani’s blog. Well Cori you have nice express about social media activities on this article. I like twitter better than facebook as it is easy to handle. I like to retweet the nice story within the blogsphere.
    .-= New from chandan@work at home blog Search freelancing work at home jobs =-.

  10. says


    I think people tend to go overboard on self promotion on social media platform because they have a hard time visualizing people on the receiving end. Sitting alone at a computer typing makes people forget how they sound vs. standing in front of someone and seeing their physical reaction to your words.

    Besides at 3AM in the morning, every decision looks like a good decision with so few neurons firing.
    .-= New from Kim Luu | Money and Risk The Financial Risk of Using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin & Blogging =-.

    • says

      Hey Kim! I agree, it’s hard to visualize people on the other side and that probably makes it difficult to relate. And definitely, lol at 3am you’re a little foggy!


  11. says

    You’re a good writer, you really have your great ways of making words move on its own. I also enjoyed reading this entry, even though I have read the same topic over and over and over again, I still get to learn tidbits of information from each article that I’ve read regarding the social media sites.

    But just to share a summary of my full understanding on how to successfully use social media sites on advertisement campaigns, I’ll try to list them below (though some where pointed by you)

    1. Interaction
    2. Courtesy (by giving interest to what your friends are sharing or with their status)
    3. To share valuable information as well as funny stuffs that can be found anywhere over the web (not necessarily relevant to your business’ niche)
    4. Indirect advertisement through status such as “I’ve just finished writing an exceptional article for my client “John Doe”, and I’m positive that he’s going to enjoy reading and publishing this one” (though I think this one disagrees with your narcissism perspective, not really sure if this works, but as for me it paid off well and grabbed some attention)

    Hmm, hope you can suggest for more if mine is still lacking some. Thanks for the read, enjoyed it :)

    • says

      Hey Jason! Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it! :) I agree on all counts, and although 4. is a bit ‘narcissistic’.. I did say you could be ‘some’ of the time.. the idea is to not make yourself the majority of your focus and instead shift your attention and focus to others and how you can help them in some small way. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment hun!

      Warm regards,

  12. says

    You’re absolutely right, Cori. The problem is that social media has exploded very quickly. That is, not everybody’s like us who have seen it slowly grow into what it is today. Rather people are being pitched to about social media in marketing plans. “We have to get in on this social media! You put links on Twitter and people buy your stuff!” While that’s true in a sense, it’s not the right way to go about it.

    Those of us who have been with all this since the start know that it’s about sharing, adding value, and connecting with people. Most “social media guru”s are just marketers who read a news article, and THOSE are the people that are teaching businesses how to use social media since they’re already in the marketing field.

    Over time, however, people will realize that it’s not the best way to go about it, and start changing their ways. I’ve seen it starting already. There are some really big companies doing everything the right way. We are still in social media’s infancy, though, really.

  13. says

    Hey Matt! Agreed, social media is still a baby in the online world. But I have slowly but surely seen marketers beginning to shift their focus and realize that social media is not just a broadcasting platform, but a real and valid way to build relationships with customers and clients, as well as just make some really good friends! Thanks for the comment hun!


  14. says

    I totally agree with your post. Don’t focus too much on the “I” but rather focus on the “you”. People will like us or our brand better if we have something to offer that can benefit them, or teach them or entertain them. It is “them” that matters not “I”.

  15. says

    We actually use our blogs more than the other types of social media because within the niche industry of auto transport, it is hard to avoid being narcissistic. And we don’t want people to tune us out. Practically speaking, people are only going to be looking for us when they have a need, not when we have some self-promotion to do.

  16. says

    Great tips covered. In fact some webmasters seem to be completely going the wrong way once they begin using the social bookmarking websites like Twitter and Facebook.

    Instead of getting in touch with their web clients and visitors honestly and in a great way, they simply stick to posting loads of slogans and mottos about the firms they manage. As mentioned, such strategies could sometimes bring the reverse effects to the net companies.

  17. says

    Cori – great post (and I like how you added your self-promotion into the post). LOL.

    We’ve all run into them at various events, etc. The life insurance rep who can’t wait to shove his business card into your hand or the Mary Kay lady who wants to give you a free facial.

    With social media, the same rules apply…don’t be that person. It’s much easier to un-follow, un-friend than it is to “run” from those people at an event.
    .-= New from Project Center Using Barcodes In Printing, A Growing Strategy =-.

  18. says

    Cori, Keith Ferrazzi talks about networking in his “never eat alone” book and when I was reviewing it, my key takeaway was similar to your advice on networking: Don’t just take take take, in fact, give give and give more before you ever ask for anything – build relationships not transactions. Thank you for the reminders even though you were a bit harsh (just kidding ;))!

    • says

      LOL.. moi? Harsh? Never! Thanks Farnoosh, glad you enjoyed it.. I’m going to have to check out that book! I’m great at being social in the online realm, but when it comes to offline, unless you come and get me… I’ll be eatin’ all by my lonesome!


  19. says

    This post really helped me out as I am just starting with the whole Twitter thing. I still don’t see the possbilities in social media cause to me it seems the traffic is not that targeted. But maybe I will see it differently once I get more into it.
    .-= New from Alex@Zahnaufheller Braun Oral-B Sonic Complete DLX – Testbericht =-.

    • says

      Thanks Alex! I’m glad you enjoyed it… I think once you get into it more you’ll begin to see what all the fuss is about. 😉


  20. says

    Okay, so I’m about to break some of your rules right now, but it’s only because I think what I have to say is related to your “don’t be a narcissist” message. A well known slogan of a successful networking organization is “givers gain.” Which I think is the message of your post. So, I’d like to mention a new service that I have developed to help people give and gain.

    My site is a social network that will help bloggers share targeted links to each other’s content. I hope it will be a useful tool for bloggers to expand their readership and build a loyal following. The idea is that bloggers would help each other. Sometimes your readers will click on a link to one of your friends’ blog posts, sometimes your friends’ readers will come read a post on your blog. Just like you said “give a little, get a little.”

    So what am I giving in exchange for my self-promotion? Well… The service is free.

    Please check it out at:

    Beta release is scheduled for August 1, 2010 and if you pre-register you can get listed on a PR 5 blog directory for free.

  21. says

    Lots of good observations in this post – it does feel like quite a few people advertise themselves in a manner that’s like going to Times Square and shouting “Look at me!”

    I will say this, though – you do need criteria for knowing when networking is worth your time and when it isn’t. People online don’t realize sometimes that just because someone is accessible they don’t have all the time in the world. I’m still not clear on how to get an audience on being motivated enough to give back – I suspect, given how things take off in a bandwagon fashion especially, that not many people have figured this out yet.
    .-= New from ashok Comment on Cowboy Bebop, “Sympathy for the Devil,” Session 6 =-.

  22. says

    Add to that:
    Don’t spam you subscribers. 10 posts, tweets, updates and blogs in 1 day is just annoying and will not earn you any favour. It takes most people 7 contact points before they will try or trust a business, person or entity. That’s seeing your name, seeing your info, getting an invite, and maybe 1 reminder, hearing about your sale, reading your post and making contact with you BEFORE they may utilise you. And it takes time. Allow it to take time.
    Remember that wording your event information or product release dynamically so that it’s interesting and enticing is what gets people to engage.

    Get rid of desperation mentality. Don’t go into it thinking you need to increase $$ or you will be one of the spammers mentioned above as you desperately try to get people to notice and engage. Relax a little, being around someone highly strung is draining, even on the net. It will also get you ‘un-followed.’

    Never bad mouth anyone and keep personal opinions on EVERYTHING (religion, politics, parenting, animal rights) out of it. It doesn’t mean you don’t have integrity- it means you have the nous not to risk alienating your network.