Exploring Your Social Media Persona

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

I’ve always enjoyed personality assessments. I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Indicator®, the StrengthsFinder 2.0, and Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus assessment. I’ve tried a number of tests that helped highlight my spiritual gifts. I’m sure there are more that I’ve used over the years but each one has helped me discover my strengths and come to grips with my shortcomings.

dreamstime_xs_35761998A talk I had this weekend about Facebook made me wonder if anyone had devised a test to assess our online personality. I came across the Social Media Personality Test and worked through the sixteen questions. It dubbed me an oversharer. Me? An oversharer? Really? Yes, I post pictures of food occasionally and I do talk about religion. (Well, faith, anyway.) But I’ve always considered myself very careful in my social media strategy. I looked at this test more closely and discovered that the only categories are:

  • Social Media Missionary
  • Social Media Circus Act
  • Oversharer
  • Overcompensator
  • Average Joe
  • Social Media No-Show

Okay, none of those fit the persona I think I display online, nor do they describe most of the people I follow. Someone needs to develop a better assessment tool methinks.

But it got me thinking about the importance of evaluating and intentionally planning our online strategy. After all, we are professionals who use social media to connect in an effective way, right? We need to strike the perfect balance of professional and personal; transparent and cautious; humorous and serious; information rich without being information overloading; and wise without being a know-it-all. Easy, huh?

I guess I’d say that the social media personalities I’ve observed fall into some of the following categories:

  • Too intense– crisis after crisis, depressing updates followed by deeply revealing navel gazing.
  • Too bland– nothing personal. An abundance of links that offer little insight into the person behind the keyboard. Could be nothing more than a computer serving up content.
  • Too political– no explanation needed. Puhlease. . . we all have political views and no amount of online haranguing will change a single mind.
  • Too “religious.” Old fashion Bible thumping done electronically. No love. No connection. Just facts.
  • Too enthralled with ecards, flare, reposts, games, cute pet pictures, etc.
  • Too focused on passing along information– a little goes a long way.
  • Too promotional– how many times can you subject your followers to the cover of your book without looking like an overbearing salesman?

I could go on and on but I guess it’s obvious that the common denominator is the word “too.” Balance is what is needed. But how do we evaluate that balance?

I think we all need trusted friends who love us enough to tell us when we fall into the “too” category. Remember that conversation I said I had this weekend that led me to evaluating my online persona? It was my brother who gently called me on my Facebook posts.  He observed that I post way too much about being busy.

“It makes you seem inaccessible. If I were one of your clients I’d feel terrible ‘bugging’ you,” he said. “I know that’s not how you are, but if someone didn’t know you. . .”

Hmmm. I’d never thought about it. I like being busy. I like sharing all the crazy activity in my life, but I never meant for it to keep people away! If I were ever to get too busy for my clients or for my friends, something would need fixing. My brother was right. My postings were not representative of who I am.

Your turn: How about you? How important is your social media strategy? What are the online types that make you crazy? Does it strike you as too cold-blooded to devise a social media strategy? If you took the Social Media Personality Test would you care to share your result? How does one decide how much promotion is too much promotion? Do you have a trusted friend or accountability partner who will give you feedback? Let’s talk. . .


What’s your social media personality? Click to Tweet

Are you an oversharer online? Too intense? Too bland? Let’s talk. Click to Tweet


115 Responses

Leave a Reply

  1. COLUMBA KNOX says:

    Howdy, Ma’aM,

    Having readers like YOU,
    that is 7///8ths promoting………

    Sincerely, Indeed,

  2. I’d divide social media into two basic areas – ‘originating’, consisting of blog and FB posts and your original Tweets; and ‘responsive’, consisting of blog and FB comments, and replies to someone else’s Twitter feed.

    The danger and opportunity of ‘originating’ social media is that it facilitates the creation of a completely synthetic persona.

    The question is whether we choose to do this deliberately (strategizing), or allow the process to be subconscious (writing as we feel).

    That the persona created is synthetic is unavoidable, because we’re filtering what we do, and the computer screen’s essentially become a mirror in which we can adjust our reflection to suit our heart’s desire.

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing…after all, we’re enjoined to ‘put on’ Christ. If we do that through our online persona, we’re creating something into which we hope to grow.

    Under this aegis there’s nothing wrong or ‘non-genuine’ about our synthetic persona. It’s simply a visit to our new house, under construction, when we can still walk through the walls (open-framed in 2 x 4s) and imagine what will be, smelling the new-sawn wood and hearing the staccato of the workers’ hammers.

    Having an accountability partner is important, because while none of the directions you mentioned is objectionable in itself, they’re all awful when taken to an extreme. There are some really funny navel-gazers out there, and I’d be mightily frustrated to find an author that never talked about her books.

    Responsive social media is much closer to whom we are, because most of us see ourselves as being a part of a conversation, and our responses tend to be more focused on the implicit question raised by an originator. Even though the process is impersonal, we still feel connected and engaged.

    We feel like our opinion and contribution matters, and the responsive persona is…us.

    The clear danger in responsiveness is sharing too much, feeling too closely that the ‘question’ the originator raised was directed to you, and that there is some level of confidentiality in your answer.

    As for me…I filter a lot of personal experience through my blog, but it’s meant to address the specific area of Christian marriage and relationships. You’d be bored silly if it were all about my marriage, and probably feel disconnected if it were all theoretical. I try to walk a fine line, and so far the feedback I’ve received says it’s working.

    I’m more open in responsiveness, for two reasons.

    First, being open can help to get a ‘comment conversation’ going that will benefit others, and may help the blogger increase her overall traffic. I do believe that it’s important to support the bloggers whose lives enrich us.

    Second, most of the traffic to my blog comes from people who see my comments and are interested enough to follow the link associated with my name. They see more of the real me here, and I trust them to see the more veiled but still genuine synthetic person speaking in the blog.

  3. Wendy, thank you for being transparent. If sharing that information with us is oversharing, I thank you! It helps to know others struggle with Facebook balance, too. I try to be careful. I’m thankful for the delete and edit options.

    Ok, I’ll share (though my sharing is going to once again accuse me of what I’m guilty of! I’m now sharing to a broader group! Ha!). We live out in the country, and last year I mentioned several times when we found critter bugs … the kind that sting, strike, hurt, and make you cry! My close friend said, “Shelli, I’m having dreams of ___!” I told her I would slow down. This year, I won’t show pictures of “that” but I showed pictures of “this.” Ha! And now I’m realizing that my last blog post included some photos of the little darlings (and the post title was “Fun”). Critters … that’s the exciting stuff in my country world!

    What bothers me? I had a family member trying to sell my book for me and get people to “like” my page (mostly to the people he and I went to school with). It was just precious of him, but he overdid it. So embarrassing. He tagged me with every action, forcing me to have to view my tags before they are posted on my page. And he tags me (and other family members) with every single photo of his kid/girlfriend’s kids. And he posts them ALL the time. Balance has never been his strong suit either! Grin.

  4. I think social media can be such a powerful tool for connection, but it can also be a beast. You can use social media, or it will “use” you. I am in full-time ministry and often felt like I was living in a fishbowl. Social media enlarged my fishbowl and it was overwhelming at first. But, I have learned that people don’t want to just look inside, they want to be inside the bowl with you. They desire relationship as well as leadership. I had to learn that the definition of balance seems to be constantly changing for me, I was either over-sharing or MIA.

    When it comes to promotional strategies, I love Michael Hyatt’s 20-to-1 rule, 20 relational deposits for every marketing withdrawal. Although, I don’t keep score this helps me keep my focus on relationships verses transactions.

  5. Wendy, I know I’m not as active on social media as I should be. Honestly, I am often concerned that what I post on Facebook would be boring, or fall into one of those “too” categories.

    I need to hone in on an effective online strategy. I am most involved on Facebook and Twitter, with a little more activity on Pinterest. On my personal FB page, I’ll share a little more in-depth. On my author page, I’m still figuring out how to make that work.

    On Twitter I get a little bugged by those who “Tweet-bomb” the feed. Most of what some people post are all promoting themselves/their books. This gets tiresome. On Facebook, I don’t get bugged as easily by posts, I tend to skip over the ones that are totally trivial. I like food ones, though. 🙂

    By the way, I am fascinated by personality tests too. I’ve done the MBTI, Florence Littaur (Years ago) and numerous spiritual gift surveys. They’re fun to read and see how accurate they are. 🙂

  6. Jaime Wright says:

    My “feedback” has been of a different sort. I usually get lots of responses to my posts and interact with my personal and my writer page. It’s a lot of fun and usually turns into friendly banter about books, COFFEE, and other asundry things that are personal without going overboard. My issue is I also use programs like Buffer, and the post scheduler on my writer’s FB page, so it looks like I post every few hours. Because of the amounts of comments I receive, apparently, I get bumped up and up on other’s newsfeeds. My issue has been “well-intentioned” people approaching my day-job boss out of concern for how much I’m on Facebook on his dime. He takes it well. God love him, the first thing he says is: “she’s a writer and social media is her platform”. GOSH! But we sat down and I showed him how my FB posts are maybe twice during my workday and often over lunch or a break. He pulled up his newsfeed and because he interacts little on FB and I’m his primary friend, I was stacked about 16 posts deep. Some from FOUR DAYS prior. So social media can sometimes give the WRONG impression of being an addict when you’re actually not. Hmm…I haven’t wrapped my brain around how to address this issue. When my writer page is my primary contact with readers, but when normal folk think I’m pilfering away my boss’s time.

    • That’s kind of funny, Jaime. 🙂 About people approaching your boss about your exorbitant time on FB. 😉 Maybe you show him how you schedule them in advance. How wonderful that he supports your writing! 🙂

      • My hubby says to never add your employers to your friends … keep them separate … but that can be hard to do. He says it’s not hard at all … just don’t friend them. 🙂

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I get cranky with people who are so quick to judge. Just because they don’t use social media, they characterize those that do.

      I had to do a little attitude adjustment of my own wrt judging those who play social media games. I used to groan every time someone invited me to join a game– before I learned how to opt out. I had to realize that games playing is a release valve for some people– a way to take a break.

  7. Jill Kemerer says:

    This is a thought-provoker. When I’m down about life, I tend not to post much on Facebook. So when I’m feeling good, I’m more active. That’s not really fair to anyone reading my updates. I certainly don’t want to give them the impression my life is great all the time! Thanks for bringing this up. I’m going to think about it.

    • Jill, I’m the same way! I don’t want to seem like a complainer, so I rarely post about anything but good, happy times, which probably gives a lopsided picture of who I am.

      • Wendy Lawton says:

        But I keep reading the prohibitions in the Bible about grumbling. I think it’s okay to look at the bright side. It certainly draws our attention to the positive.

    • I tend to do this as well, Jill. My thinking is that there is enough depression going around already that I don’t need to add to it. I definitely don’t want to be a crisis-after-crisis navel-gazer. But I can see the need for more balance. It’s food for thought…and prayer.

    • Sarah Thomas says:

      That’s probably my tendency, too–not enough grit.

    • DItto, Jill. I tend to be the same way. In part because I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I guess this is another area where I need to find a little balance.

      • Jill Kemerer says:

        Jennifer, Meghan, Sarah, and Jeanne, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! My online presence has always been about being real but also being joyful. It’s hard to spread joy if I’m complaining! I will say this, though, you all come across as very real online. A few vents wouldn’t make me think you’re whiney at all!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I think that’s okay, though. If we are active on FB, we know and understand. No one is going to talk about their depressing financial status (unless they are trying to launch a crowd source fund drive). We tend to highlight the best of times and the times when we really need our online friends support in prayer.

      That’s real for social networking, isn’t it?

  8. Always excellent to think through our social media ministry, er… strategy. I use FB and Twitter to encourage and build up our faith. In the evenings, I try to have fun. In between it’s random. In all cases, it’s me. Speaking. Sharing. Laughing. Bemoaning. Whatever.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your list of excesses… too political, too depressing, too cynical, too angry, too needy… those are the people I unfollow.

    But I love the connections I can maintain, strengthen, and initiate online. How else would I know about one of my best friend’s son’s little league games back in Chicago? Or my other best friend’s daughter who is struggling with sickness? Helps me pray, and keeps the relational bonds in place.

    There are ways to relate, and ways to hurt relationships. In many ways, the same rules apply face to face as in social media.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And you are a favorite, Bill, because your kind of funny translates so well to social media. Some humor does not. I love that you help us laugh and then turn around and give us some of your great wisdom.

  9. Thanks for sharing, Wendy! I’m big on personality tests, too. I love the categories you came up with for social media personas. I know people who fall into each and every one of those! I have one acquaintance in particular who falls into the “too promotional” category. I feel sorry for him sometimes because I don’t think he realizes he’s coming across as a spammer.

    • Jennifer, have you done the Myers-Briggs test? I’ve been the same ‘type’ since High School.

      • Jenni, I have, but I can’t remember exactly how it came out now. It was a couple years ago. I had the printout…wish I could find it! As far as personality tests go, I don’t think I’ve changed much since high school either. 🙂

      • Wendy Lawton says:

        No matter how much I grow and change, I still remain INFJ– funny. That’s why the test is so valuable. It really seems to be a pretty accurate assessment.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And with your friend, Jennifer, if he doesn’t get how promotional he comes across, he’d never understand if you spoke to him about it. It would only wound him.

  10. Wendy,

    Thank you for addressing this. I totally agree with all of it. (Except the oversharer part– I don’t think you overshare at all. I love peeking into my friends’ worlds and feeling a part of their lives. And I don’t see the busyness as a turn-off. Again, it’s a facet of your world. I DO adore the food photos. Especially anything chocolate related.)

    I try to be as “real” on social media as in “real life” while striking that happy medium between fun and professionalism.

    On my FB profile, I may not post every day and when I do it’s usually something faith related or maybe something corny that’s happened during the day. Oh, and sometimes I’ll post adorable photos of Miranda… but I did resist the urge to post last week’s photo of her using my $100 Fenton candy dish as a pillow, though I did joke about it. (Who doesn’t love a cute kitty?!)

    My FB “page” is where I ask a Question of the Day and really where I’m most active. I don’t always ask something “brand” related, but I rarely stray too far from it. For instance, because of personal values and what I write, I don’t post questions about the graphic side of life. Folks can turn on the television for that. Heartfelt, homespun, and faith-related are my fave topics. (And someone who’s mastered this beautifully on FB is Debbie Macomber. Just the right balance.)

    Twitter is where I’m most active. When I examine my feed, I tend to tweet links I think would be helpful to moms and writers.

    Now, I’m going to wipe the donut crumbs off my face before I press “send.” Oops! Is that too personal? 🙂

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I think you strike a good blend of personal and professional.

      We’ve laughed that the kinds of statuses our good buddy Janet Kobobel Grant posts that elicit the most comments are the silly ones– like what color nail polish she chose for her pedicure.I think it’s because she mostly posts information-rich things and so the nail polish is a fun rabbit trail.

  11. *I* am an Oversharer? Reeeeeallly? I re-tested myself, even though I think I intentionally answered no to every question, I still got Overcompensator. Get real. Whoever wrote that quiz has got to be related to me or my brother (no, ABS, not you, my DNA brother) because no way could anyone with a brain be that far off the mark.

    I’m >>>SOMEWHAT<<< of a social butterfly, but ONLY in my comfort zone. My first day at ACFW, and maybe my second, I think I had the air sick bag from the plane tucked into my briefcase.

    I joined FB to keep track of my daughter, catch up with friends and family, and to stalk people I didn't like from college, and people I did like but just don't have the spare brain cells to commit to the drama upon which their lives float.

    My brother(s) keep me on an even keel on social media. It is REALLY hard to get all poofed up about something when one's elder sibling will trowel on the "hey, here's your grade 2 picture, aren't you the one who cut your bangs?" treatment.

  12. Thank you, Wendy, for your transparency. Thanks, also, for your category of navel-gazing. I had a good belly laugh over that one. 🙂

    I think the social media personality depends somewhat on which avenue of social media. I’m becoming more active on Twitter, and as I learn it and read other tweets, I’m feeling more and more like a split personality. I often wonder if I’m an oversharer on Facebook, but on Twitter, it seems that no one shares anything personal. Yes, I need a strategy. I think that’s the only way to handle all of these commitments on top of plain old life. I need to use HootSuite more, but I often agonize over what to post, worrying that I’ll fall into one of those “too” categories. I look at my numbers, though, and they’re growing, and I’ve formed real relationships through social media (at least, as real as they can be), so I must be doing something right. And now, I feel like I’ve overshared here. Commence navel-gazing. 🙂

  13. Susan Roach says:

    So I took the social media test, and it labeled me a “social media missionary,” of which I am not. Really. I do post about my faith, but not (hopefully) in a Bible-thumping way. I also talk about my faith to real, live people, but (hopefully) not in a judgmental, offensive way. And that’s what I think social media should be: a reflection of what you would really say in person to an acquaintance or group of acquaintances. I figure if I would share that story about my kids or my dog with a dinner table full of church members on Wednesday night, it’s fairly safe to post on Facebook. And whatever I wouldn’t bug real people about, I don’t bug social-media friends about. But I know I need to up my social media presence if I ever hope to be published. Finding the time to do that …well…

    • “I figure if I would share that story about my kids or my dog with a dinner table full of church members on Wednesday night, it’s fairly safe to post on Facebook.” Excellent litmus test, Susan.

    • “I know I need to up my social media presence if I ever hope to be published.”

      This comment, although ringing with truth, threw me a bit. Yes, a positive presence on social media is needed, but as a pre-published author (I think) my time is better spent on making my novel the best it can be so my agent has confidence in what she sends into the big, wide publishing world.
      In all truth, I know I need to be more consistent on-line, and this realization can be overwhelming.

      • Susan Roach says:

        I agree, Jenni. That is one of the reasons I haven’t beat myself up over not going much beyond Facebook and my little blog, which I write with a partner so neither one of us is overwhelmed. I figure I need to actually have written a book to promote a book online, and there are just so many hours in a day. So writing a MS that has value should be our “pre-pub” priority, in my opinion. Any other opinions out there?

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I know, susan. I think we need to figure out a new social media personality assessment. This one didn’t work for me at all. So far, the few people who’ve reported their “score” are all wrong as well.

  14. What an incredible post and discussion today. It’s always reassuring when we realize others share our problems. I feel like over the past six months I’ve found more of a balance on Facebook, but it’s always a work in progress. When my twins were infants, my mom said: “All you ever talk about on Facebook is how hard your life is right now.” Maybe a part of me wanted the world to feel sorry for me (or impressed!). Either way, ever since then, I’ve been careful not to share the struggles in my life, but I agree with Jill, that’s not always a good thing. It gives people the wrong impression that my life is somehow perfect (seriously, who has a perfect life? I never assume that about anyone). On the flip side, I don’t want to bring a thousand other people into some of the struggles of my life.

    The comment I get consistently from ladies at church, or acquaintances at the grocery store is: “I don’t know how you do it all. I see your activity on Facebook and wonder how you have the time to be on there.” Which always begs the question (that I never utter): “If you saw me on Facebook, that must mean you were on there. How do YOU find the time?” 🙂

    Anyway, I don’t think you overshare, Wendy! I love hearing about all your activities. I’ve honestly thought because of how much you share, you’re much more accessible than other agents who are rarely on social media.

    • It’s sad how people can use our Facebook posts to judge us, isn’t it? I love the communal aspect of Facebook…sharing in people’s lives…but like anything we do, it can open us up to criticism.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Thank you, Gabrielle. Those of us who seem accessible do it because we happen to like the people we hang with. It’s the same with the editors who are accessible on FB– I love following my friend (editor) Vicki Crumpton because we are both garden-lovers. It’s a place where we can share common interests.

      And I’m okay with the mother of infant twins talking about being tired– that’s real!

  15. Lori says:

    I took the test and I am a “Social Media No-Show”.

    I do like to look at blogs and comment on them especially when there is a contest. I use LinkedIn for professional purpose (my tech writing not any other kind).

    However my big thing now is Pinterest. I haven’t been doing it long. I use mostly my own pictures. I have a board for my upcoming vacation to France, a memorial to my late dog Blithe (this has helped my grieving), an inspriational board, and a board devoted to the butterfly labyrinth I designed (I’ve used this one too for grieving but my butterfly labyrinth is a grief labyrinth though). If anyone wants to check it out, see below:


  16. Angela Mills says:

    None of my comments have shown up in the last few days, so I am trying a new email… hope it works 🙂

    I love personality tests! I am so different when writing than I am in person, I feel I am my true self when I write, but when I go to open my mouth….. my mind goes blank. I’m a shy introvert. On social media, though, I am friendly and open and can easily share my heart and thoughts. And it’s not at all fake, that’s just how I communicate.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to have a strategy, but remaining true to yourself is most important. Don’t try to be someone you’re not in order to “win” on social media, because it won’t come across as authentic.

    It bothers me when all a FB page does is post links. Interact!

    • I’m here to testify that you’re a lovely, friendly lady, endowed with a gorgeous smile. So glad we met here first, and then in person at Mount Hermon. Blessings on your writing journey Angela.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I’m so glad this works now!

      I’m with you. I’m much more comfortable writing than talking socially. That’s why social media has been a boon to introverts. We can share equally with our gifted extrovert friends.

  17. Kristen Joy Wilks says:

    Balance is so hard to achieve. I blog stories about my 3 boys at least once a week and looking over the things that I’d written down I realized that I tend to only remember the really crazy things. Like when they make a sled out of an old rowboat, or sneak a Gardner snake into the bathtub, or break the clock with their Nerf swords. Yes, we have a lot of action in our house, but we also eat and do homework and they are also incredibly sweet. Like when my youngest looked at the new recipe I tried out and said “Your work looks delicious” like it was a beautiful painting…but a tasty one. So I have had to balance the funny crazy stories with the sweet, so that I don’t misrepresent our family.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      But those crazy things make us laugh and how we love to laugh!

      Kristen, when your boys are all grown up and come home to visit, guess what stories they will relish telling? All the crazy ones you loved plus a whole passel of stories you never even knew about. You will laugh till your sides hurt. So, yes, the sweet, too but we love the crazy ones.

  18. Carrie Padgett says:

    I love social media, but I do try to be intentional with both Facebook and Twitter. My hubby has accused me of oversharing, but that’s when someone at church will comment to him about something I posted. We compromise by me telling him what I post so he’s not blindsided, even though I don’t post anything that needs to be private.
    OTH, I’ve had people, some of them barely acquaintances, tell me they actively look for my posts in their feeds because I’m either uplifting, funny, or thought-provoking. I maintain that’s because I’m intentional about my posts.
    Thanks for the great post, Wendy. BTW, I don’t think you’re an oversharer at all!

  19. Sarah Thomas says:

    The main thing I try to avoid on social media is over-sharing OTHER folk’s information. As for those tests, I really like taking them, too! My spiritual gift is exhortation. No one at church was surprised.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Yes! That’s an important reminder. I don’t share about my kids unless it is clearly public good stuff or I have permission.

      Someone recently asked a group of us us not to share about a party we attended because they weren’t able to invite all those who follow us mutually.

  20. I love personality and gift assessments! My husband and I take them at least every few months, and laugh at how accurate they are and how different we are. We were having this discussion just last night about social media and the purpose of my posts. I try to always evaluate whether something is helpful or not. Will this post be helpful information, will it make someone laugh, will it encourage, will it let someone know they aren’t alone in their struggles? I also try to evaluate whether or not it’s harmful – will what I say embarrass my children one day or my husband, will it cause arguments and hurt? I also get frustrated by those who “Vaguebook,” posting things without really saying anything at all but to make you wonder what’s really going on.

    • “Vaguebook” 🙂 This is a frustration of mine also. I scratch my head, and wonder if I should already know what’s going on, or if I was left out of the loop on purpose. Awkward!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I love that term “Vaguebook.” Perfect description of those posts that do nothing– neither negative nor positive. Totally neutral. *yawn*

  21. There seems to be some stratification in the use of social media on the basis of gender.

    Most of the commenters here are women, and I’d be willing to bet that women are generally more consistent and engaged as bloggers. I think FB use is still 60% female, as is Twitter.

    From what I’ve seen, women tend to be more personal, and generally have a better ‘fan base’ of people who will interact with them. Men are usually quite impersonal, and content-oriented to a fault (Dave Hamlin and Joe Pote are exceptions), with a commensurately smaller number of regular commenters.

    Thoughts, anyone? Do men and women have something to learn from one another here?

    • Hmm, interesting thoughts, Andrew. Going off the top of my head, I’ll say this. Generally speaking, women tend to be more relational. We tend to talk more, share more and “get” more from the interactions on social media. Men are relational, but in a different way. As you know. 🙂

      I guess what it comes down to (at least for me) is the intentionality of the comment someone leaves, male or female. When someone comments on my blog posts or on an FB post, and it shows that thought was put into the comment, it makes me want to respond back. When someone says something quick and impersonal, it’s hard to take that kind of comment to a conversation level. Does that make sense?

      And, yes, I believe men and women can definitely learn from the other in terms of social media relating. 🙂

      • I like the well-thought-out comments, as well. They can be a spur that takes a post beyond its original premise, and that can be all to the good.

        But that said, the short, “Good post!” comments are nice to see. Means that people are moved to write something, even if they can’t think of anything to add at the moment they read the post.

        Men and women do relate differently. I think that much of the way men relate is based on insecurity; they want to present an image that places them somewhere beyond emotion and feeling, into a realm of rationality and action.

        Women, on the other hand, seem to be more outwardly-directed; if there’s insecurity there, it’s more in the “am I holding up my end of the conversation?” area.

        One of my favorite gender-premises is that for men, the world is about “me and you”, while for women it’s about “we”, and the latter is something that men find, in the depths of our atavistic little souls…terrifying.

    • Andrew … women talk a lot! 🙂 That’s the first thing that came into my head!

      • Men talk a lot, too! But for men, it’s usually more about speech-making than about engagement.

        Get a guy talking, and you’ll rarely hear “What do you think?” And you’ll almost never catch the words “How do you feel about that?” coming from male lips.

        It’s like, if they say that, they’ll have their Secret Agent Decoder Rings taken away.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Good observation, Andrew. Women and men communicate very differently in general online and in face-to-face communication. In the first years of our marriage I would say all I had to say and then. . . silence. I would have to say, “Here’s where you say what you are thinking.” In forty-plus years of marriage, that dynamic has never changed. He never thinks out loud. He’s quiet for a long time and then says something that grew out of that silent processing.

      Interesting that you raised this because I see too many male characters, in books written by women, who communicate just like a women. It never rings true.

      • Meshing communication styles in marriage can be the hardest thing about that sacramental crucible. Men seem to have a binary approach – what we say is either profound or trivial. There’s really not much in the middle.

        The point you raise about male characters communicating like women under the pen of a female author is mirrored in female characters written by men.

        I would say that an author not only has to read in their chosen genre, but should also read books authored by “the other gender”, to get a feel for what opposite gender characters say, and how they act.

        Susan Howatch is an excellent example of a female writer who can write a convincing male character, in her “Starbridge” series. Her earlier books didn’t succeed in that area nearly so well.

        The male counterpart is Andrew Greeley. He can write male characters well, and I am told that his female characters are spot-on, as well.

  22. Interesting discussion! I use Facebook only to connect with family and friends. I might share something about my editing business or writing progress if I’m really excited about it, but it doesn’t happen often. My “writer” presence is entirely on twitter. I’ll be honest: I love twitter, and it is not a burden for me to be active there. I often tweet about books I’ve just read, tagging the author; I keep the post very specific, talking about something funny or unexpected from the book. This has led to a lot of interesting conversations with authors, and (just as cool), their readers. Since I write the kind of books I like to read, I think these connections will someday help connect with potential readers.

  23. Paula says:

    I think the scoring is off – I’m not sure how I can take it twice while marking everything “rarely to never” and get “oversharer” and “over compensator.” I don’t use social networking purely for family and friends – I have a personal page on Facebook which mostly is about the latest crazy things my kids have said, a FaceBook Page for official writing-the-comic updates, a Livejournal account for long complicated personal philosophy/situation/dilemma things, and Pinterest for inspiration boards for stories, and Tumblr for things that label me a dork. I rarely use Twitter or LinkedIn. I may have accounts at more.
    I’m a science fiction and fantasy geek in all of them, I identify as an introvert on all of them, and I’m always thinking in both words and images in all of them – but I express that differently according to the strengths of the individual medium.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Yep. We definitely need a new assessment.

      I like that you have a well-thought-out strategy. You know exactly what you use every forum for. Perfect.

  24. I flunked the test.

    Yankee Doodle passed with flying colors, but then – Canine Social Media far exceeds current human interactions, mainly because, dogs have no “Digital Friends”.

  25. That test must have ignored everything I checked because it got me totally wrong.

  26. Wendy, very fascinating discussion today! I love seeing what everyone else thinks too.

    I’m much more into Facebook than any other social media platform — Twitter seems like a giant digital billboard to me, unfortunately. But I love seeing what others are up to, and Facebook is great for that. Like others have said, it doesn’t give the whole picture — but it’s nice to check in on friends. 🙂 It’s a great way to share pictures too!

    I am careful to not be negative or post something just for the sake of posting it! I get bugged by people who update their status ALL the time…as if others care that they were grocery shopping an hour ago and are now visiting the dentist. LOL. I try to find creative ways to say what I want to say. And I like posting pictures…yes, I’m probably guilty of posting too many pictures of my dogs (though those are probably the status updates that get the most likes!).

    Overall, I think we need balance, like you said. But we also need to realize that we aren’t going to please everyone! I have hundreds of friends on Facebook…so that means not everyone is going to appreciate my posts about faith, or pics of my dogs, or whatever. Some will think I overdo it; others won’t. I think it’s all about engaging others, sharing, being respectful, and remembering that the universe doesn’t revolve around me. But then, that’s how I want to live my life…onscreen and off.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Yes! We aren’t going to please everyone. That’s the key. We need to be aware of how we come off but not be a slave to our online persona.

  27. Michelle Ule says:

    Social Media Circus Act? When I answered NO to the last six questions? I think this may be slightly skewed!

    I spent almost nine years posting on World Magazine’s blog when it was in operation and from that near-daily experience learned a lot of things about social media.

    *People don’t recognize a [joke] unless you tell them.

    *People don’t recognize sarcasm unless it’s pointed out [sarcasm OFF]

    * Never engage the trolls.

    *A soft word may not turn away wrath, but it won’t escalate your need to confess sin . . .

    *Affirming and positive words are more helpful than anything, unless you’re deliberately trying to start a fight.

    *Gentle humor is better than raw humor.

    *TMI makes me feel uncomfortable and I’m unlikely to pay attention to such people.

    *Don’t air your family’s dirty laundry and never say anything negative about a family member [joke].

    *You don’t know who is reading and since it stays forever, do you really want some people in your life to go back and see this rant?

    *I don’t care what you’re eating for dinner.

    *I’m tired of photos of cats and dogs cluttering up my FB feed (gave them up for Lent).

    * I like to share things, particularly links, I’ve found interesting–no matter the subject matter.

    *Most of my Tweeting is retweets, except for posts about my own blog.

    *I’ve learned WAY too much about some of my relatives on FB, but it gives me added incentive to pray.

    *Everything I post is read by God. Do I really want to post that?

    Thanks, Wendy!

  28. Hey, Wendy, off-topic…but my “Best of the Worst” prize package just came!


  29. I’m a “Social Media Missionary,” but what do you expect for someone with a blog entitled A Christian Worldview of Fiction?

    Most of the questions didn’t have my answer, so I was always fudging a bit one direction or the other. Thought I might come out Joe Average, but no.

    And yes, I had to take the assessment because I LOVE these personality evals. 😉


    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Perfect. You can add that to your ministry of Christian Fantasy Appreciation, right? (Your day is coming– on the horizon, now. . . )

  30. I got Social Media Circus Act–and not a sentence describes me at all–other than I like to use hashtags. Though I don’t use them appropriately the bulk of the time. There were a lot of questions in that quiz that should have had more answers possible. Few people behave in the extremes of all the time or never.

    I think I find a balance with content on the social media sites I participate on, but I struggle to find a balance with social media and my personal life–or to find time to explore new social media sites. Finding the time to venture beyond Twitter, FB, and blogging hasn’t happened, but I also worry that if it does, I’ll steal from my family and writing time rather than from what time I already spend online.

  31. Thank you for this reflective post, Wendy. I do not think you are an over-share person.

    Hmmm, that test seemed a tab bit off to me.

    I am not such an interesting person to have daily posts that will interest Facebookies out there. Am guilty of occasional pet posts. Every Monday I post that it is Grandparent Monday for this Kathy with the three Joeys. No full-face pictures of my grandson on those per my daughter-in-laws request. Some profile and back shots, pretty boring to the average social media diehards.
    What I do find troublesome is the constant posting on my page of political statements, financial requests for good causes that I know nothing about, especially if they are legitimate or not, and other authors advertising on my page without asking me. I do post select mentions for author friends I personally know and have read their books.
    Do post pictures from writers conferences, workshops, books signings, and reads.
    Love to ask a question a week and interact with back and forth with my readers.
    Stay away from all venting posts I read, just don’t respond.
    Lots of excellent sharing here. Thank you to all for the honest interaction. I found it helpful and insightful.

    P.S. ~ Didn’t even know what Pinterest was until my agent suggested it ~ Love Pinterest.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I generally block someone who posts promotional things or strident opinions on my page.

      I love that when you recommend a book you know the author and have read the book. Makes your recommendations much more valuable.

  32. Balance on social media is a challenge. I post pictures of things that inspire my stories, or people that make me smile. Snippets include life-changing moments, observations of the natural world, and quotes from people who express themselves more eloquently than I ever could.
    When I come across pins on Pinterest that remind me of someone, I send a link their way. Little extensions of joy help I hope. 🙂

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Sounds like you already have a good balance. And using Pinterest to encourage is a great use of social media.

  33. Susan Roach says:

    I join Andrew in thanking you for that prize pack. I immediately dove into both the chocolate and the books.

  34. Becky Jones says:

    Most people are braver on social channels, for better or worse. I used to work in PR, and a piece of my job was babysitting our hospital’s Facebook community. I learned pretty fast that some of the real, live humans I knew had an amazing ability to spew venom when talking to our “faceless” hospital page.

    And in real life, they seemed like such gentle souls!

    I try to remember that, and make sure I’m not being too much “braver” online than I might be in person. That means half of my status updates get deleted before they see the light of day. People don’t really need to know about the muffin I’m eating…I don’t think…

  35. I’m coming late to the party because I was actually away from my computer and social media (gasp) most of the day. Your posts have been fascinating, educational, and downright giggle inspiring (lol Jennifer!).

    I’ve always approached social media as a conversation, not a billboard. I agree with those who mentioned Michael Hyatt’s adage about percentages of interaction and self-promotion. Because of this, I don’t schedule posts, and I rarely post marketing related items without trying to tie it in with a question or a giveaway (something that will benefit my readers).

    While I have a private group page for my street team, I have resisted getting an author page in favor of keeping my personal profile. I have a nice mix of people who have watched me grow up, people who know me as a writer, and others. Thus at any point I may be posting about just about anything.

    How does this tie into my brand and my writing? I am Southern. I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I am a mom, a wife, and a fan of really good books. I talk about all of those things. I also write about all of those things.

    I get my biggest interaction with photographs, be they personal shots from our travels, a photo of my engagement ring, or a picture of a collage I’m considering for promotional purposes. I ask questions. I brag on writers and books I love. I enjoy the interaction. Does it sell books? Maybe. But oh goodness, do I get to meet some great folks!

    One caveat: I post very little personal information about my children, and I do not tag them in the few things I do post. If I check in at a restaurant or event, I post it after I’m home. If I am traveling, I make sure and mention that someone is at my home while I am away. Basically, I take online security very seriously.

    And Wendy, please continue to post just as you have been. May I second the request for chocolate recipes and photos? 😉

  36. This is quite enlightening, because it goes back to the adage, “perception is more important than reality.” I tend to stay away from politics, but lately there is so much going on locally I haven’t done a great job of that.

    I think they need a new Social Media Personality Test because it came up as the opposite of most of my answers. The only thing that is true is that I use hashtags in my posts.

    The Social Media Circus Act treats social media like an art to master. This may even mean referring to himself as a “social media expert” or “social media guru,” often to pad a résumé, increase a billing rate, or convince us he isn’t actually just unemployed and living in his mother’s basement.

    The Social Media Circus Act gets his name because he becomes a caricature online, embodying countless articles and seminars on what it means to “embrace” social media and “engage” with a virtual community. He tries way too hard to do everything “by the book,” resulting in cringe-worthy overuse of hashtags, cheesy-sounding social network lingo, painfully forced questions in an attempt to “encourage engagement,” and, most of all, a self-worth measured in retweets and follower counts.