How personal should you get with your customers?

One of the hardest things about being in a small business is knowing how personal to get with your customers.

How much of your personality should you show, and where’s the line when it comes to talking about your personal life?

It can feel like keeping your business 100% professional will give you more credibility, but there is a benefit to allowing a little more of “you” show in your business.

That benefit boils down to one simple truth - customers want to feel like they do business with a human, not with a faceless company.

The hard thing to determine is where the line is; how candid and open should you be? How much of your personal life and personality should be shared? There isn’t a simple answer to this - it’s dependent on too many factors such as:

  • What industry you’re in: A fitness coach versus an accountant for example.

  • Your branding: If you’re a law firm trying to make legal issues more approachable to people under 30 you will have a totally different approach to a tech startup wanting to do business with Fortune 500 companies.

  • Your own comfort level: It’s okay if you don’t want to share your whole personal story publicly. It’s also okay if you do want to share your whole life story publicly.

  • Culture: if your business is targeting a particular community or country it’s important to consider how the culture impacts what’s considered acceptable to discuss.

My only suggestion for determining how much to share is - don’t take anyone’s advice. Consider all the points above, but ultimately there is no wrong answer, whatever you decide is right for you and your business.

Also, remember that where “the line” is for you will shift over time. When I was a young thing I shared EVERYTHING on my MySpace page - too much in fact. These days I definitely hold back a little, some of it because I don’t feel the need to share with everyone anymore, some of it because of the industry my husband works in, and some so I don’t feel like I’m living my whole life on the internet. I like to think that people still feel like I’m approachable and that they know me, even if I’m not sharing everything.

So with all that said - if you’re genuinely not sure where to get started, here are some suggestions of small ways to inject more of you into your business:

  1. If you haven’t already, add your face to your website and social media. Remember customers want to do business with a human, not a company - show them who that human is!

  2. Share some behind the scenes pics of you working on your business - whether it’s your workspace, a flat-lay of a current product you’re working on or how you’re unwinding after a busy week. Elise Cripe is currently writing her first book and sharing the process in her Stories on Instagram. It’s a great way to let people in on what’s going on without giving everything away.

  3. Share what you’ve learned - when tough things are happening in your business you often don’t feel like (or literally can’t) talk about what’s going on, but it’s always good to share what you learned from the situation afterwards. It shows that you’re human, that everything isn’t easy, and also might impart some wisdom that someone else can use in the future.

  4. Share something personal once a week on social media. There’s a tag called Friday Introductions on Instagram where you can introduce yourself to new followers (and potential customers). I’ve also recently started seeing fill in the blanks templates for Stories which is pretty cool.

  5. Talk from your perspective. You can tell when you’re reading a Tweet from Coke or Dove that they are speaking as the “we” of the company, AKA a bit impersonal. With a small online business, there’s no need to take a step back, you can respond as - well - you.