Should you be vanilla on social media?

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Should you be vanilla on social media?


When you’re using social media to promote something – from a book to a blog to a business – many people say you should be as “vanilla” as possible. The idea is that you should treat it like a dinner party with no discussion of religion or politics, so as to avoid alienating any potential customers. Sounds reasonable, right? It’s certainly something I’ve advised several clients to do in the past.

Just lately though, I’ve been reading about another school of thought. Take Chalene Johnson, for example. She knows a lot about business, and sells training and academy memberships as well as offering an awful lot of free content. She is also a devout Christian, and posts a lot of fitness videos on YouTube, and hosts two regular podcasts. She’s very glamorous, always wears heels, and has her signature pink lipstick on at all times. When she’s asked about her persona online, or people disagreeing with her on social media, her response is simple: she’s deliberately trying to boldly show exactly who she is, so that she will attract clients who are like her, and want to work with someone like her. She doesn’t want to attract someone who doesn’t like religious people or doesn’t like overly chirpy people who always look on the bright side, because she knows she won’t have a good working relationship with them. When people are rude or disagree with her on social media, she politely tells them that perhaps they are on the wrong page, and should look elsewhere for whatever it is they’re searching for.

So I suppose the question here is, what sort of clients do you want to work with? Who do you want reading your blogs, listening to your podcasts, buying your book? If the answer is “anyone at all whos’ willing to part with their time/cash” then yes, you really should be as vanilla as possible, and whatever you do don’t mention your political leanings.

If the answer is that you only want to work with people who “get” you, then it’s in your best interests to make it abundantly clear exactly who you are before they sign up to work with you. Let everyone know exactly what you’re like, what you believe in,  what they can expect from a conversation with you.

What do you think? Should we all hold back with our personalities on social media if we have something to sell? Or should we trust that our real personalities will attract the right kind of clients/readers to us?

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By | 2017-07-21T11:02:58+00:00 August 28th, 2015|Social Media|4 Comments

About the Author:

Vicky is a social media and blogging trainer who offers workshops and one-to-one coaching in Salisbury as well as online training and webinars. You can read her personal blog at


  1. Avatar
    Terry Tyler August 29, 2015 at 8:08 am - Reply

    I think there is too much ‘vanilla’ everywhere, with everyone telling everyone else that everything they do is great, people being sop worried about their online presence being controversial that they just merge into the crowd. There is a difference between daring to day what other people think, but doing so intelligently and with consideration, and being rude or offensive. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Vicky Charles August 30, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      I think you make a good point there Terry! I think you can disagree, and have a disagreement with someone, without being offensive or rude. I’d rather say “this is me, this is who I am” and attract people I’ll enjoy working with, than swallow it all down and work with anyone who will pay!

  2. Avatar
    Carol Hedges September 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    well, you follow me, so you know I couldn’t be VANILLA if I tried!! I see where you are coming from on this – people who are naturally combative or hold very extreme views may well alienate potential readers by expressing them too forcefully. I agree, in that case they should tone it down…or preferably not try to be an ‘author’ on social media!. However, if you have a fun personality, can rip out one-liners and engage wittily with all kinds of banter, then you definitely should be ”yourself”. I have lost count of the number of followers who tell me they only bought my books coz they liked my repartee…or after a while say: Oh, you’re an author…must download one of your books. It’s easy NOT to cause offence on social media…you just say, thanks for your opinion, I don’t think we’re going to agree….and back out!

    • Avatar
      Vicky Charles September 3, 2015 at 7:10 am - Reply

      Thanks Carol, brilliant comment! I think you’re right about saying “thanks for your opinion, I don’t think we’re going to agree.” It’s perfectly easy to disagree without being offensive or rude. Mostly!

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