Gordon Brown’s personality has been under scrutiny from well before the time he became prime minister. Two years ago, as Tony Blair was preparing to leave Downing Street, Time Magazine profiled Mr Brown saying his likely success was all “A Question of Character“.
Two years on and the Labour Party is in disarray, the poll results are its worst in history and today’s Independent Newspaper suggests that other Cabinet Ministers would get better results in a general election if they were Prime Minister, instead of our Gordon. For no other reason than these people are more “liked” than Gordon Brown. Once again, his character is suggested as a reason for the party’s failure.
Last year, The Times even suggested that Gordon Brown suffered from a personality disorder. Armchair diagnosis like that is not to be encouraged, of course, but it does suggest – as does today’s Independent survey – that somehow, at the root of the country’s difficulty with Gordon Brown is a failure for us to connect with him. Apparently, we find it much easier to get on with Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary.
Personality is a crucial issue in human behaviour. There are some people we like and others we detest. We say that some people are “difficult to get on with” whereas others are “easy going”. Some are “extroverted” others are “introverted”. We love to put people into categories and “boxes”. In general, it makes it much easier for human society to work if we can fairly instantly work out what “type” of people we are dealing with.
We clearly have a deep desire to know the kind of people around us; we want to classify them. The same is true online nowadays. When we see a blog page, a Facebook profile, even a Tweet, we want to know “what kind of person” wrote this. If you fail to demonstrate your personality through your online presence, just like Gordon Brown, you become difficult to connect with.
If anything, Gordon Brown’s “failing” is the same as the vast majority of web sites and blogs. It’s his blandness; stand-offishness, aloofness – call it whatever you like, it’s being distant and uncommunicative that lies at the heart of Gordon Brown’s problems and almost all blogs as well.
Consider the blogs you visit from time to time. Often the design is much the same, they are not distinctive as they use tired, standard template driven pages. They all look the same and all sound the same. That’s just like the cabinet – a bunch of middle-aged men, grey haired, grey suits and red ties; clones. Even though Alan Johnson turns out to be the man we’d most likely support as a future Labour party leader he’s not that far ahead compared with Gordon Brown, according to today’s survey results. Grey men surround themselves with other grey men so they do not look distinctive – safety in numbers. And the same is true of blogging.
Many people make their blogs look and feel the same as other blogs because to be different would be “dangerous”. Far from it; being different, standing out, showing your personality will get your blog noticed. So too will being “alive” and connecting with your audience. Standing back and being “grey” will just mean your potential audience will pass you by.
Your blog needs to show personality – even if it is a corporate blog. Blogs are the online equivalent of people in a room; readers are only going to connect with them if they are easy to get on with, are attractive to the audience and show fairly quickly what kind of “person” they are. Don’t be bland; be real.
So, here are the steps you can take to make sure that your blog stands out, has personality and really connects.
- As you write, imagine you are talking to someone. Don’t write blandly, write it as you would say it.
- Include your own picture, or pictures of your authors; allow people to visually connect with you.
- Write from the perspective of the audience; talk about what they are interested in, not what takes your fancy.
- Use templates wisely – adapt them, change colours, make them different. Even a grey-suited politician can stand out if they wear a hat, a pocket handkerchief or a bow-tie.
- Interact – allow people to make comments; far too many blogs switch this off and that reduces your connection with your audience.
- Make it personal; in other words don’t write “on behalf” of your company, write for yourself.
And if you’re reading this Gordon, now you know what you need to do too; stop sounding the same as everyone else and talk to us like you probably do to your children – as a real person, not a clone.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+