How to Have a Winning Social Media Personality

Hint: Be Open and Honest to Win Prospects, Customers and Fans

What if we just told the truth in our marketing? For many marketers this is a scary concept. Yet, being honest and telling the truth is the basis for being transparent in our customer interactions. At the core of social media, it enables us to build relationships with prospects and customers over time. At a point when the trust is gone for prospects and customers, and marketers are guilty until proven innocent, it’s critical to overcome consumer skepticism.

To win over prospects, customers and the public, use what Scott Monty refers to as the Dale Carnegie Approach to Social Media based on Carnegie’s best selling book Winning Friends and Influencing People (Affiliate link). Real life connections win over traditional advertising messages. To this end, show up on social media platforms, listen to what’s being said, and contribute to the conversation (Note: This doesn’t mean broadcast your promotional message.)

5 Benefits of being honest and open (aka transparent)

Here are five ways that being honest and open helps you to build a winning social media personality. These points were at the heart of Johnny B. Truant’s BlogWorld Expo New York’s presentation.

  1. Disclose information about your motivations. Otherwise your audience and the public will invent one for you.
  2. Give people a reason to pay attention. Being honest and open is refreshing;  people can spot the difference.
  3. Talk to people like people, not as a potential sale. Make your prospects and customers feel like an insider.
  4. Ease the tension of marketing by telling an ongoing story.
  5. Avoid the potential for prospects to claim they were misled.

How to Have a Winning Social Media Personality

To be a winner on social media, here’s a set of social media dos and don’ts.


  1. Be yourself. Act like a real person. Don’t be formal since that puts your audience at a distance.
  2. Have opinions. Take a stand but be careful that you don’t hurt others in the process.
  3. Admit when you make a mistake or don’t know something. Everyone makes errors at some point in time. Own up to it without blaming others.
  4. Maintain a sense of humor. Take a break from being serious all the time. This can be helpful when your personal life spills into your professional activities.
  5. Give credit to others where appropriate. If you use someone else’s ideas let your readers know.


  1. Don’t be lazy, unprofessional, or irresponsible. Remember that there are real people with feelings on the other end of your social media efforts. It’s important to consider social media’s social responsibility. Take the extra effort to make sure that whatever you’re saying is well founded.
  2. Don’t speak badly of others. Respect other social media participants and understand that they may not know English as well as you do.
  3. Don’t complain about something if you don’t have a solution. Look for answers that contribute to the community.
  4. Don’t try to trick people. Your goal is to be open about your relationships with others on social media. If you’re selling something or trying to persuade someone to your point of view, don’t do it in a deceptive manner.
  5. Don’t tell everything. While honesty is important, you need to be consider those around you and think about the implications of your interactions.

Use this honest and open approach to help readers find you. Even if they don’t purchase from you, they’ll at least respect you and you’ll develop a set of followers.

Do you have any other suggestions that help drive more prospects and customers? Please include your stories in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: mrecuay via Flickr

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4 Responses to How to Have a Winning Social Media Personality

  1. Sebastian says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Great points you make here. I think many small business owners interpret social media with “personalitylessness”. I always advise folks to have genuine conversation as if you were speaking with the individuals face-to-face. Understanding that even though the approaches/mediums are different the intent is the same. How you build trust and a quality product is through that genuine connection and relationship building.

    Thanks for sharing


  2. Intrapreneur says:

    Great post. I’d sum this up in a sentence (and I guess we’re talking in the main about twitter here) in that the approach is much more Customer Service and much less push marketing.

  3. Thanks for airing the subject here Heidi – it’s a critical foundation block to good business – not only to Have a Winning Social Media Personality

    There are many who live by the adage “honesty is the best policy” and it’s a subject dear to my heart – not only in social media but in all aspects of life – where I believe honesty should be the ONLY policy.

    As you said, it’s about trust which directly applies to reputation. I recently wrote a blog post which asks if “integrity” and “salesman” are mutually exclusive – that, after all, is a common perception problem. The client/customer is much more likely to do business with someone who will also tell her when NOT to buy – and in response to your question, yes, I have at times said to my customer: “don’t buy that from me, it’s not in your best interest.” I may have lost that one sale, but I won a client for life. It’s all about building a relationship over time as a trusted advisor.

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Joseph–You’re welcome. I totally agree that honesty is important to building your reputation online and offline. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen