Vulnerable V/S Personal Content: Where Do Entrepreneurs Draw the Line?

Some tips and tricks to bring more clarity to the subject

Shruthi Sundaram
The Startup
4 min readJul 8, 2022

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Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

“Show vulnerability to connect with your audience” is standard advice for entrepreneurs or folks trying to establish their brand. Phrases like “Create your voice,” “Stand out,” and “Brand loyalty” are common among brand gurus.

Incorporating our vulnerable side in our stories and how we present ourselves is crucial in building a loyal brand.

No doubt.

After all, people buy from people, not robots, right? Showing our failures, fears, and successes, good and bad, makes us feel human, not a brand. It makes us relatable and develops an emotional connection with our customers.

But how to do it? Where to draw the line? What to share? And what not to? How to share them?

People never get into details. I often see social media gurus holding a virtual megaphone shouting about the importance of creating a brand. The benefits of it even. But the exact process? There has never been a silence more deadly.

After not getting accurate advice that suits me, even after scouring the internet (and almost pulling my hair out in the process), I went deep into Twitter for answers.

Over the past month, I had multiple conversations with people (20–30) with a great personal brand, got first-hand insights into their perspectives, and took some courses along the way to get an answer.

Now, let’s jump into the juicy part, shall we?

Note: Please take all the advice with a pinch of salt. I’m only writing this based on my limited experience and the conversations I’ve had with people because I was struggling with the same.

The most significant difference between vulnerable and personal content

Anything not related to work is personal content.

Example: relationship issues, political opinions, and matters related to your family.

Vulnerable content shows your failures, lessons, thought processes related to your decisions, and the ups & downs of your business. With vulnerability, your audience relates to your brand. With personal content, your friends connect to you. Audience? Not much. Okay, probably a teeny tiny amount.

As a business owner, you can decide to share either of them. But having this clear distinction between both helps a lot.

Tip: There’s a conjunction between the 2, where your personal experiences impact your business decisions. And this is the best part of vulnerable+personal content.

Example of vulnerable content:
My friend Christine shared an intensely vulnerable thread on why she canceled her product launch after putting hours of effort into building her product.
The thread was an instant hit because people connected and related to it.

https://twitter.com/christinetrac1/status/1541424451568517121?s=20&t=CwMcVYl42RQAyFrY5847Fg

Example of personal content:

My mentor, Kevon, posted a tweet on Father’s day with his daughter! Not related to his biz, but he got an insane engagement because of the little girl. She’s so cute!

https://twitter.com/MeetKevon/status/1538515692848238592?s=20&t=KAtcayLTqe33X4B2I_Rr_A

What to avoid sharing

If you want to have fun online, go ahead with whatever content you post.

But if you’re looking to build a business/personal brand, the below tips work the best for content:

  1. Try to limit your personal posts to less than 20% of your content, especially if you’re using a platform for work. Anything not related to your work is personal content.
  2. Now, unique examples of personal content:
    - Random stuff like “Happy Sunday! How has your day been?”
    - Inspirational writing like quotes or advice like “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can become!” (If your niche is self-improvement, or if you’re tying this to your work, go ahead. Otherwise, stop.)
    - Photos of you partying with your friends/political opinions
  3. If you still feel the itch to share personal stuff, set up another platform for it. For example, I use Twitter for work and Medium for my blog.

Four stupidly simple ways to share your vulnerability (with personal examples)

  1. Convert your failures into lessons so that the next person doesn’t repeat the same mistakes you did.
    Example: 6 Pre-Launch Regrets into One Week of Publishing My First eBook on Gumroad
  2. Share your story.
    A tip? If you post it on social media, the hook must hold the beginning and end. The rest should be you explaining how you got from Point A to Point B.
    **This was a personal experience that led to my work today.
    https://twitter.com/Shruthi_O3/status/1540311281009295360?s=20&t=x2yS1SOlEQQdqLMiQCWOig
  3. Ask for advice or feedback.
    People around the world are incredibly giving and sweet. Stuck somewhere? Shout out for help! The world will assemble in some way to help you out.
    Asking for help is an act of vulnerability because people are terrified to do it.
    Note: 9 folks signed up for it.
    https://twitter.com/Shruthi_O3/status/1535600239574499329?s=20&t=kAjij3agLeeRunRYuETcgw
  4. Show gratitude
    People want to be appreciated, especially if they’re coming forward to help you.
    https://twitter.com/Shruthi_O3/status/1540673670607032321?s=20&t=kAjij3agLeeRunRYuETcgw

In simple terms, share how much ever you’re comfortable with

I know, I know…it was an anti-climatic ending.

But, I usually don’t like ‘should’ and ‘need to.’

You need to decide what kind of entrepreneur you want to be. Decide what values you want your brand to represent and stick to them. I guess it is okay. Because if you force yourself to show something, it’ll look fake. Which is the worst thing that could happen because it won’t be you.

The key here is understanding the platform's purpose and maintaining the balance. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself too. You’ll figure it out as you go!

Ready to improve your business through storytelling and forming the right connections online? Subscribe to my newsletter here!

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Shruthi Sundaram
The Startup

I help employees transition into their mission-driven, passionate coaching biz & scale up to high-ticket clients. Book a free call: http://shruthisundaram.com