Today’s post is authored by an ACTUAL redhead, known as The Naked Redhead. If that’s not enough to get you to read, I have no idea what is. The Naked Redhead (TNR) writes under the assumption that life is more fun when you’re honest (naked), when things are funny, and when people get together to try to do the Right Thing. She is also a speaker, storyteller, social media nerd, community enthusiast and authenticity hound. It is also possible that she may or may not have a slight obsession with Kraft Dinner. You decide.
“Bring a donut for yourself, and you’re a hog. Bring a donut for the whole office and you’re a hero.”
–T. N. Redhead
Have you ever noticed the difference between the donut eaten furtively in the privacy of your own home, and the dozen donuts purchased to surprise the office? With a simple act of generosity, you’ve transformed from inhaling several hundred calories all by your lonesome, to sharing a delicious sugary treat experience as a group (P.S.—group calories are null). In blogging and social media, you’re either eating a donut by yourself, or you’ve brought some to share with a couple thousand of your closest friends.
In other words, “It’s not about you.”
I gotta be honest, I learned this lesson the hard way. My first experience on the blogosphere was reading the “big blogs”…the ones where people wrote stuff and other people flocked to read said stuff just because it was there. That was in the early stages of the blogging boom where truly, the Field of Dreams statement applied: “If you make it, they will come.”
Blogging, however, has changed (and if someone tells you otherwise, run far away. People who have instant success overnight with blogging are the exception, not the rule), but I didn’t get it for a long time. I figured if I slapped some words on a screen, Ray Liotta would friggin’ step out of a corn field and be my best online dead baseball playing friend.
But then one day it hit me: NOBODY CARES unless you show them you care first.
It’s a lot like real life, right? If you want to have friends, be a friendly person yourself. When I realized that it wasn’t about me and my little bloggy donut, boy, did things change. Here are a few things sharing donuts has taught me about blogging and social media:
Find out what kind of donuts your audience likes.
You like donuts, and your donut of choice is a Long John. Your audience, however, might really prefer plain glazed most of the time, and will only occasionally eat a Long John. One of the best ways to figure out what your audience likes is to do a quick and easy survey. My most recent survey (via Survey Monkey) was a mere six questions long, and it helped me to channel my content more concisely than ever before. I also displayed the results so my readers had a bigger sense of their collective “TNR Reader” identity. Six easy questions that were not about me generated a bigger community response than one more post about how awesome I am.
Share your donuts with a genuinely generous and kind spirit.
It’s okay to know that in some way, you’re sharing donuts so that you can also one day benefit, but there’s a big difference between saying, “HERE ARE MY DONUTS! Now where’s MY present?” and saying, “Here are my donuts. I really hope you like them,” without expectation of immediate, tangible return. That’s what a gift really is, right? You wouldn’t bring a donut to your boss and say, “Here’s a donut, gimme a raise.” Ewww…jerkface. Don’t do that to your readers, k?
Let your new “It’s not about me,” attitude filter into every part of your online personality.
When I realized it wasn’t about me, I not only refocused my blog’s content, but I also immediately changed my auto-responder on Twitter from:
“Thanks for following me, now read my awesome shit here http://linktomyawesomewebsite.com!”
“Thanks for the follow. What’s one thing I should know about you?”
My response percentage went through the roof, with even savvy, experienced Tweeters responding to say, “Is this an auto-response? I can’t tell. Oh, I really like ducks.” (ßParaphrased from an actual response)
At that point, my new followers didn’t even care that I might not have personally typed that specific message the moment they followed me; they were just excited that someone out there cared enough to ask about them instead of simply eating a donut in front of them. (And for those with inquiring minds, yes, it’s an auto-DM. The question, however, does stem from a genuine place, the means is simply necessary from an efficiency standpoint. I absolutely answer every response.)
Because that’s what those “read MY stuff” auto-responders, ad nauseum “buy my shit” posts, and spammy e-mails are like. They are the equivalent of solo-scarfing a goddamn delicious, chocolate covered, cream-filled donut on stage in front of a crowd of hungry, salivating people. It’s a show, sure, but not one that people will ever watch again. In fact, don’t be surprised if some of the audience likes the “performer” just a bit less…especially after the grand finale of languorous finger licking.
Lest you think this post is saying that you should slave away for years bowing only to the whims of your audience, denying yourself any pleasure or financial return in your whole little bloggy quest, remember that just because you’re sharing donuts, doesn’t mean you don’t get to eat a donut, too. I mean, that’s the whole fun of bringing donuts to a gathering, right? You all get to dig in as a group and eat the shit out of those sweet confections.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to fall into a sugar coma. Mmmm…donuts.