How to form your Digital Identity
It isn’t always clear that we have something interesting and original to say that will make someone take a break from whatever they’re doing and actually read it. It’s particularly common when we’re at the start of our journey, while still nurturing our brand identity that is not yet fully formed.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”
Do you agree with Benjamin Franklin? Of course, you do. Nevertheless, we can’t always be certain that our content lives up to one of these two criteria.
I meet many business owners who desperately want to have a presence on social media but are scared of it. They know they have to do it since that’s where their audience is and that’s where they’ll find opportunities for growth, yet they are reluctant to put themselves out there. “It’s embarrassing,” they tell me. “It’s spam. It won’t interest anybody. Why should anyone listen to me?”
It’s All Been Said and Done, and You Have Nothing New to Offer? Think Again
I’ve found myself having quite a few business meetings outdoor lately courtesy of Covid-19, seeing as how I’m pretty fed up with hosting Zoom meetings all day long. During one such meeting, I presented my customer a hand-written document reflecting the company's marketing journey for 2021.
It’s been quite a while since I wrote something by hand. After all, it’s hard to compete with the ease of an email that takes three seconds to jot down and send or a document that can be quickly typed rather than slowly handwritten. It seems that handwriting is a dying skill, even though It has some benefits over modern alternatives. For example, writing with our hands forces us to focus what we want to say in a concise manner so that we get our main point across, as opposed to typing on a computer or smartphone, which is quicker and doesn’t necessarily require us to be cognitive of what we wish to prioritize. Thus, we end up simply copying down information rather than processing it selectively.
Back to the point. Do you remember how you formed your own personal handwriting style when you were a child? Your writing probably started off generic and awkward — imitating your mother’s stern block letters before moving on to cursive. Then, at some point, you began developing your own unique font identity that was also a reflection of your personality, and this is the style of handwriting you’ve been using to make your mark on the world (pun intended) ever since.
It’s the Same Thing With Content Marketing
If all you do is say what everyone else is saying and speak to the same audience, you’re clearly not going to be able to stand out and grab attention. So, how can you go about saying something that’s unique?
Do you remember Pavlov’s dogs? Ivan Pavlov was experimenting on classical conditioning, a situation whereby “attaching” a conditioned stimulus (in his case, the ringing of a bell) induces an unconditioned response (dogs salivating in preparation for receiving food). Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell ring in the same way that the digital world teaches us to get excited at the sound of a notification.
In an environment where everyone is competing for our attention and constantly trying to thrill us, our body has learned to associate the notification sounds coming out of our phones with a sense of excitement — they make us jump, grab our attention and cause endorphins to be released into our bodies. While a dog’s saliva simply prepares its body for digestion, endorphins are basically a stimulant — and like any drug, they have two physiological effects on us: Firstly, we become insatiable consumers of thrills and we can’t seem to get enough of them. Secondly, our thrill threshold keeps rising to the point that greater and greater effort is required in order to truly excite us.
Jump Right in or Take It One Step at a Time?
Your mission is to find your own unique and authentic voice through which you can expose your services to more audiences and create new dialogues. You must get them intrigued and interested and wanting to stop for a moment to dwell over your content. Moreover, you must make them focus on what you, of all people, have to say. It sounds difficult and scary, I know. “Where do I start?” — you may be asking yourself. Well, the important thing is simply to start. It gets easier with time.
Remember, patience is key. That’s how the process goes. The same process you went through as a kid when you were developing your handwriting. It only takes a brief moment to create an authentic marketing identity that you can connect to, that reflects who you are (“you” being your brand) and what you want to share with the world — and that ultimately produces results. Forget about performance anxiety — just dive right in!
I once read an interview with Dan Ariely who was asked whether he prefers diving into the water or going in slowly. “Jump right in”, he answered without hesitation. When you go in slowly, the water gets colder with each step and progress becomes more and more difficult. The temptation to turn back and get out is always there, and the longer you take to get in, the more opportunities you have to back out. With each step, you’ll be asking yourself if you actually wanted to get in deeper in the first place. Why not make this process easier by simply eliminating those opportunities? Food for thought.