Have you recently seen a post in your newsfeed that details someone’s knee replacement surgery, discusses at length their child’s sniffles or talks about their relationship struggles? Did it make you feel uncomfortable? If you rolled your eyes or cringed at it, odds are whoever posted it was oversharing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a huge brand, a personal brand or just your own accounts, there’s a fine line between sharing and oversharing, both in real life and on social media and understanding where that line can make the difference between a piece of content that rocks or flops. Let’s find out what we can do to find that sweet spot.


It’s not always about the topics

The most frequent advice you’ll hear when it comes to oversharing is to stay away from certain, seemingly very personal topics. This largely translates into something along the lines of talking about the passion that drives your sewing business is fine but talking about the fact that you started sewing as a means of coping with depression is not. 

I find it ironic how we spend so much time and resources trying to bring dimension to a brand and its story in order to humanise it and then sweep under the rug the things that would add that dimension in a non-artificial way. With very few exceptions, I don’t think there’s really a topic that’s off limits on social media, especially when it’s had a significant contribution to the business’ story. I do, however believe that whatever topics we approach, need to be relevant to the brand’s story, make sense for the audience and be shared at certain stages of our relationship with the audience, just like Taryn’s post below.

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A few years ago I would of been too embarrassed to share this photo, I mean – that tummy overhang. These days I give less shits about the parts of my body I used to hate and rather focus on how my body moves and feels. I’m so passionate about fuelling my body with foods that energise me and I love to move my body – for pleasure not punishment! My body looks the same as is did when I hated it but my goodness it feels a lot different. Life is sweeter when you Embrace and if you want to feel the same you got to work for it. If like me you’ve hated your body for more years than you’ve loved it, it’s going to take some work to ‘unpack’ the old stories, it’s going to take some effort and inspiration to build new ones. But you can and you will, if you want it. If you want help to learn to Embrace, go to the link in my bio and I will show you how. My mission in 2018 is really simple, I want to help you to give less shits about the stuff that doesn’t matter so you can reconnect with the stuff that does… let’s do it! 👊🏼 #ihaveembraced #embracethedocumentary #embraceyou #bodyimagemovment #bodyimage #bodyimageissues #tarynbrumfitt #selflove

A post shared by Taryn Brumfitt (@bodyimagemovement) on

She’s quite an inspiring figure. She received a lot of attention after posting a non-traditional before and after picture, on Facebook I think, in which the former was from her body building days and the latter was her, very tastefully-shot post-baby body. She’s been using her platform to promote self-love and body positivity every since. Very personal stories that detail her journey are, therefore, not just relevant but vital for people to connect with her on an emotional level and absorb her message.

Finding topics relevant to the brand’s story

Unless we’re talking about personal brands or small businesses, when trying to determine what topics brands, particularly very big ones, can approach we look at their mission, vision and core purpose. This gives us a good idea about what the company’s trying to do and how whatever they’re doing is bettering their audience’s life. A very simple example is Google’s mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. A few topics naturally derive from this, the most obvious of which are insights into how they work and their impact on people’s lives. That tends to be how we get a lot of relatively generic, lookalike brand content. It’s not bad. It’s a good starting point but because many brands are doing the same thing, it’s hard to break through the noise.

The less obvious topics derived from the mission statement they can approach to engage their audience more effectively sit right smack between the brand, its services and the audience’s interests, and engagement is a matter of cleverly building your content around these topics.

 

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*contemplates life and also Westworld season 2 enigmas* 📸👏 @avnish.jpeg #OnGoogleMaps

A post shared by Google Maps (@googlemaps) on

Google Maps is all about finding your way and discovering the world. Through heaps of user-generated content featuring stunning monuments, cities, people and experiences, their Instagram feed looks a lot more like what you’d expect from a travel agency’s account; and that’s amazing. They understand that they’re users aren’t interested in features, print screens or tips. They’re interested in experiencing the world and Google Maps is acting as their guide.

Making topics relevant to the brand’s audience

The biggest challenge with ensuring we talk about the things our audience wants to hear is that we often don’t know what that is. The larger a group is, the less homogenous it is, so even though we know that one of our buyer personas is interested in interior décor, it’s very likely that they’re interested in different styles or are only interested temporarily, because they’re remodelling specific parts of their home. Even though we have a lot to say on the subject, how do we know what angles will engage our audience? Well, the very sciency method we use is …. assumption. That’s right, we assume, segment, test, and verify.

We assume that part of the group, with such and such traits, is interested in office décor tips and tricks, another in DYI home office décor, another in revamping their kitchen, etc. There is a group, though, that’s not necessarily interested in remodelling. That’s not tearing down walls, ripping out flooring or replacing a single chair in their home. Yet.

 

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Who’d have thought watching a mixer go round would get the boys so excited and entertain them for quite so long! . . Thank you @swanbranduk should have invested in one a long time ago! 😂😂 . . The fabulous @bettycrocker gave us a helping hand but the end result ain’t half bad! Need to make a regular thing if this, as they were in their element! Swipe to see what we got up to 💕👌 . . Of course not a crumb will be passing my lips, as I’m what feels like nil by mouth😩 . . #cornerofmyhome #pocketofmyhome #colourmyhome #dailydecordetail #mystylishspace #mysassyhomestyle #myhomevibe #kitchenremodel #kitchendecor #kitchencabinets #kitchensofinstagram #interiorboom #interiorrocks #myvintageabode #swanuk #baking #mystylishspace #styleonabudget #sundayfunday #sundayspecial #ekbbhome #interior2you #interior4you1 #boysboysboys

A post shared by Emma & Spiv (@_homebirds_) on

This is the group that wants, at some point, to live in a home with the look and feel in which you’re styling your interiors. They don’t care about the technicalities of applying wood varnish but they do care about what it feels like to live in a home like that. While showcasing interiors will make them swoon, placing people’s day to day lives in the foreground, with the interiors taking a step back, will enhance your content, improve your connection to your audience and make you a whole lot more relatable and accessible.

Determining your relationship status

What kind of information would you share with someone you’ve just met? How about someone you’ve known for a couple of years and with whom you’ve developed a strong bond? The level of detail, particularly, when it comes to our personal life, very much depends on how close we are with our audience. The problem is we tend to evaluate our relationship status with our audience according to how much we’ve shared rather than how much we’ve shared with each other.

 

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Happy 45th wedding anniversary Mum and dad….. what an amazing achievement. Thanks for being great parents and role models for me and anna. Big love jamie oxxx

A post shared by Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) on

How our audience engages and with which topics is how we can determine our relationship status with our audience. Do they just view and like our content or do they share their own view and, even better, their own challenges or solutions as they relate to the topic we’ve approached? The level of detail you share can be ever so slightly higher and more personal than theirs, just to drive the conversation. Push it any further and you’re very likely to cross the line into oversharing.


The Bottom Line

Relationships online, as in real life, are built incrementally. It takes time and a real commitment to dialogue in order to move from the generic to specific. Brands that do nothing but broadcast have little to no hope of understanding their audience’s interests, challenges let alone responding to them through engaging content.

When they do try, they tend to either come off as very generic or too personal. Even though a relationship-first communication approach is a long-term, high-investment journey, it’s the only way brands can break through the noise with human, relatable and engaging stories.

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