Thursday, November 5, 2009

shameless self promotion

Last night I got a slightly subtle rebuke on twitter that I was hawking myself too much. The following popped up in my stream, after I posted that tomorrow would be another day of shameless self-promotion: Maybe you are also doing original research in at what point it becomes counterproductive. Ever hear of a velvet hammer, Elissa?

Ok, that was more than slightly subtle. It was an outright dig, a call out that I'm pushing too hard, talking too much, that people are getting sick and tired of listening to me selling FLOW. That was my first reaction anyway. I'm so self-conscious, this whole shameless self promotion thing is like an elaborate Las Vegas show girl costume that I'm parading around in and don't really believe I can pull off. The hat is tipping too far to one side, the crystals are digging into my back and I'm stumbling around in the heels (no, I'm not speaking from personal experience). For someone who spent much of their adulthood wearing shapeless black clothes so no one would notice me, this is the polar opposite and it's not a comfortable fit. I often wonder if that ability to blithely put oneself in the center of attention is an extra thing you're born with or if it's missing the self-doubt gene.

Those look-at-me people are also the one's who don't seem to mind if they're late and keep everyone waiting. They're the one's who talk REALLY loudly on their cell phones so that the entire bus knows they had a huge fight with their mother and they saw a great pair of shoes on 14th street that they can't decide to buy or not to buy. They have pie-in-the-sky ideas that are completely not grounded in any reality, but that never seems to bother them. There are countless self-promoters on twitter, who, whether they realize it or not, are all selling themselves. In fact, just about everyone on twitter is self-promoting. That's intrinsically the point. To post something smart or inspirational or snappy enough for people to respond to. The more followers, the more popular you are. And now lists are the new followers.

That was the first snarky comment I've gotten. People either ignore me (which happens much of the time) or have tremendous enthusiasm for FLOW. I've done blog interviews with people I've met online, had amazing FLOW write-ups, discovered remarkable contacts and have this bunch of people who believe in and truly support me. At this point, I feel like my online self is starting to shape my regular self, as my confidence is growing and I can own what I'm doing. Yesterday I handed FLOW postcards to everyone I talked to. The woman at the juice bar looked quite stunned but we went on to have a lovely conversation about her engagement announcement posted on the wall. I talk to everyone—drives my kids crazy, but putting myself out there seems to be the way of my future. While I used to keep various parts of my life separate, I'm allowing edges to overlap. My yoga studio is throwing me a FLOW party. The principal of my daughter's school is bringing a crowd to the Rizzoli gig. Finally, at 45, it's starting to come together.

I went over that post a few times to make sure I wasn't reading negativity into it. Normally, I'd let it fester and eat away at my self-confidence until I'd be crippled in doubt, ashamed and frozen. But I didn't. Maybe the old me, the one who lived in men's extra large black sweaters is finally getting used to the feathers. I called her out and asked what she meant. And then I went to sleep, not caring what her answer was, or if I'd ever hear from her again.

Day 35 is not letting other people's stuff get to me.


Lady Greetums said...

I prefer to call it outrageous self-expression and you have ever right to shout it from the canyon of heroes!

Sure when other people start shouting it too it takes on a life of its own and now it is a beast that you cannot stop feeding!

Tell everyone and anyone who'll listen and anyone bold enough to say anything negative, well they too have the right to outrageous self-expression. But if they were in your shoes, they'd be strutting their stuff too!

MizFit said...

eh I say ignore them, Sister.
You have worked your arse off and should shout it from the proverbial rooftops.

IMO you are entirely using a plush velvet hammer as Im known to UNfollow those who constantly sellsellsell.

For me the twitterturnoffs are the selling of GET (insert whatever here. rich? thin? followers?) QUICK schemes.


Jeremy said...

Any time you put anything out in the world, there are those who are going to say something that is either negative or that you perceive as being negative. Comes with the territory.

Ignore them. Follow your vision and your instincts. They've done you right so far and will continue to do so.

Amy Oscar said...

I don't think self-promotion is ever 'shameless'--
every time I mention a blog post more than once on Twitter, I wince, wondering if people will see me (and my brand) as less "spiritual". And you know what, they might?

We were made to Shine and The Universe supports our every attempt, no matter how clumsy, to add to the light of the world. That's how we show our little girls-who are taught at every turn to tone down their smarts while parading their curves-what a passionate, engaged woman looks like. You're a trailblazer. So is my friend whose grandmother used to paint the bottoms of her shoes with white shoe polish so she couldn't rough and tumble with the boys! (Today, she's the editor in chief of a magazine!)

Still, messages like your Twitter friend sent are important. They remind us what the boundaries are. We are all just learning, after all. Especially here on Social Media where, though we are making new rules, the old rules still apply.

I regard comments like the one you got as gatekeepers (I got one myself today from uber-Twitterers @unmarketing.) Often, they're the voice of my own inner gatekeeper, telling me I've crossed a line. Perhaps I was less genuine, less in touch with my core values than I want to be. If that's the case, I thank the gatekeeper and move on, adjusting accordingly. If not, I still thank her.

One last story...
When my daughter, a bright, talkative, renaissance wild woman, was in third grade, she always wanted to be the star of the play. One day, Katie came home crushed. "Miss K said it was selfish to want to be the Queen," she sniffed. I was furious.

Since then, I've reminded Katie that it's NOT selfish to want what we want. I've taught her (I hope) that it is her nature to shine--in fact, it's her JOB, no matter what part of the stage she's assigned to.
Her shining shows other girls how to shine too.

Just as your shameless self-promotion is teaching me, and other hopeful authors, how to get our message out. Keep shining, Elissa.

You've written a 'shameless" book - about a formerly taboo subject. As for promoting it, who cares? Stand on your head, wear a tampon hat... be as excited as you are about the wonderful thing you've done.

Mark said...

I find it not at all excessive. Please proceed with gusto.

Susan said...

What a fantastic post. You inspire us all!

Christopher L. Jorgensen said...

Ok, I will have to look around, since you didn't actually define FLOW in this article (promotion failure!).

I had two reactions to this post. I spent a day promoting other people's stuff and to this day that was the highest traffic my site has received from twitter. I do this often. Those people appreciate this and check out my site.

And you say this: "To post something smart or inspirational or snappy enough for people to respond to. The more followers, the more popular you are. And now lists are the new followers."

These are not the true metric. Rather, how dedicated are your followers? I block more people in a week than most people have. I am picky about who I follow. etc.

It's fine to promote your own stuff. I do it. But honestly, even with tone of followers you don't see the spike you might expect. I drove an account up to 15k followers. I posted a link from this account and few people went there. I post from my main account and I can drive pretty decent traffic anywhere.


Anonymous said...

Day 35 is not letting other people's stuff get to me.

AMEN Elissa- Now keep doing that everyday! I am going to try it too!


Vizionheiry said...

I haven't been following you for long, but I like the video trailers that act as teasers for the book. I think marketing is all about content + opportunity. You share content and provide people a specific opportunity to engage. Keep working on it.

Vizionheiry said...

I also think it would be fun to make 10 packages of the book with tampons, pads, summer's eve and a snappy postcard. Then raffle it off on your blog.

Word Geek said...

How about raffling off a 5 day supply of Ben& Jerry's?

*runs and hides*

Elissa Stein said...

Love that you are taking time to write. LOVE the raffle idea—thank you. And LOVE including Ben and Jerry's. A snarky stroke of brilliance.

Jane C Woods said...

Speaking as (hopefully) one of those new on line friends, thank goodness you are shouting from the rooftops-metaphorically! I didn't know what the velvet hammer woman was on about but she apologised.

Could it be the topic, could it be the fact that you are a woman (there are still double standards). Who knows? But to L with them. You carry on just as you are! And if you ever come to UK and don't look me up I will stamp my feet!
PS Your interview on my blog, if anyone is interested!

Ann Marie said...

hey if we do not have the gu-pa to promote ourselves how can we expect anyone else to do it for us...if you don't take the step, your just standing still...go girl !!!!!

'Where the Sun Sets'
read it online now @