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The key to promoting yourself on Twitter and Facebook can be summed up in two words…

Has anyone written “How to make Facebook Friends and Influence Twitterers” yet? Sometimes it feels like we all need it.

Self-promotion can be hard. Self-promotion on social networks like Facebook and Twitter can be deadly. When we add an extra layer of expectation (buy my story!) on top of the fundamental expectations (Like my comment!) we’re asking for trouble. But does it need to feel like a bacon oil bath every time we draft a post about what we’re working on?

No.

The fact is this. We do things well when we enjoy doing them. Does that make sense? Put simply, using the internet as a promotional tool can be done well if you follow this one rule:

Stay comfortable.

If you’re doing things that feel wrong, or uncomfortable, or iffy, then you’re on the wrong track. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try new things, but you should pay close attention to what feels right and what doesn’t. Because that gut instinct will guide you to a wonderful comfort level with promoting yourself online. A comfort level that eludes many of us.

But what if you just feel like you MUST be on Facebook and Twitter to do well. Even if you don’t like either one. That’s a common complaint I hear. If that’s the case, then keep these things in mind as you dive in. Here are some tips on finding the right mindset for showing the world what you’ve got!

1) Set up a Facebook Page.

It’s a good idea to keep your work on a second Facebook destination. Setting up a Facebook Page for your professional life is becoming common. Some people set up a page for all of their work to live. Some decide to set one up for each project.

The reasoning is three-fold. First, you can siphon your efforts onto a page that is designed for you to get the word out. That removes a lot of the anxiety about pressing the “Post” button on a promotional post.

Second, you can invite your personal friends to Like the new Facebook page, which allows them to opt in to hearing the latest news from you.

Third, you get excellent data on your followers. Facebook allows you to see who is interested in your work. They also provide cheap and effective advertising options so you can spend a few bucks on promoting outside your follower-base.

2) Twitter is a cocktail party.

Unless you’re in your 18-34, in which case it’s a kegger. Either way, if you see Twitter as a place where people want to be noticed as much as you do, it’s easier to participate in the give and take of a healthy Twitter account.

People expect you to promote what you like and what you do on Twitter. It’s not a taboo. As long as you show interest in what others are doing.

So with this mindset, follow people you admire first. Participate in conversations they have. Show interest in what they’re doing. Get a feel for how the conversation flows (just like you do at a cocktail party). The result of one month of studying how your heroes do it will be priceless.

3) Talk about what you know.

If you post with a strong, genuine voice about topics that you know something about, you will do well. People will find you.

If you post about your work with the enthusiasm that you actually feel about your work, you will do well. People will find you.

If you post your actual work, or some large portion of it, you will do well. People will find you.

With these 3 things in mind, you can start dipping your toe into the River Social. It’s a strong current, but staying true to yourself is like having a life jacket with rocket boosters and a convenient pocket for your beverage can.

Good luck!

Ben Zackheim