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A social media guide for introverts

Think your introverted nature means you can’t use social media? Think again, in the view of two Cambridge Judge marketing faculty.

Portrait of smiling woman walking and looking at mobile phone

People who make the most noise on social media are often extroverts, but it’s a modern myth to think that introverts can’t use social media effectively, in the opinion of two members of the Cambridge Judge Business School marketing faculty.

In fact, when it comes to using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like, introverts can at times be even more effective because they bring a more focused approach.

Professor Jaideep Prabhu

Professor Jaideep Prabhu

“Social media is full of extroverts and it’s tempting to think you have to compete on the same level,” says Jaideep Prabhu, Professor of Marketing. “It is essential to be known, but it’s a myth to think introverts cannot do that. Many promote online extremely successfully.”

Adds Dr Eric Levy, University Lecturer in Marketing at Cambridge Judge: “Introverts tend to be better at carefully considering their actions, better at prioritising. Online, that means researching high-quality links and more thoughtful blogs. People underestimate the power of the introvert.”

The first step, says Prabhu, is to have confidence in who you are, what your business stands for and who your audience is.

“There’s no point trying to be something you’re not. Know yourself well. Some of the world’s greatest business people are introverts. Steve Jobs was the face of Apple, but a key to the initial tech was the more introverted Steve Wozniak. Social media gives you the power to be confident, celebrate and embrace being an introvert – and to really stand out from the crowd.

“You can be confident and assertive and still be an introvert. You may not be ‘out there’ physically but social media gives you the tools to step into that big public space. It benefits those who aren’t so good at the face to face – people who prefer listening to speaking, people who work better alone than in teams.”

A more considered approach, often the hallmark of introverts, can help people and businesses be distinctive.

Dr Eric Levy

Dr Eric Levy

“You can stand out – especially online where all things are equal – by not commenting on absolutely everything, not engaging in online conversation or banter for the sake of it, but being the voice of reason,” says Levy. “Carefully selecting when to put your content out there, and ensuring its quality, will get you noticed more than the scattergun approach of people who feel they have to be everywhere all the time.”

So you don’t need to be everywhere?

“All the main social media platforms work for some people,” says Levy. “But some are more effective than others, depending on how you use them. LinkedIn is obviously a powerful business platform and this works well for the introvert – you can build up a considered, relevant profile for the interest you want to attract. But Facebook and Twitter, while apparently more suited to the extrovert, can also work well for the introvert who manages that content well and considers before reacting to anything that comes back. If you do that well, you can become a thought leader on social media.”

Prabhu agrees: “The great thing about social media is that it gives you time, although a lot of people don’t realise that, believing they have to respond immediately. Effective communication online is not about ‘more, more, more’ – it’s about being more considered.”