Have you ever been told, “Just be yourself. They’ll love you.” When it comes to being authentic on social media, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Someone told me recently I was the most authentic person they know. I was flattered because I do try to keep it real. But if I’m honest, it takes practice and a smidgen of courage.
These days, business owners are constantly being told to show more of who they are. Owners of small businesses, especially, have the opportunity to create credibility and boost their profiles using social and digital media tools.
But people are wondering, “Is it ok to be me when I’m on social media? What is considered ‘authentic’? Do I really have to tell people what I ate for dinner or where my kids go to school?”
How do we decide what to share and how much?
Let’s make one thing clear first, authenticity is not the same as transparency. Nobody wants to know everything about you. However, they would value knowing more about you in a way that supports their understanding of your business. How you share, behave and relate to others online powerfully demonstrates your values, expertise, wisdom and character.
I believe authenticity comes from grounded self-awareness. Many small business owners have this in spades. The journey we’re on is too challenging for us not to have our feet on the ground most of the time.
So where does the fear about authenticity comes from? It’s really the fear of making mistakes or turning people off us.
If that’s your fear I’d like to suggest a small business owner would have to go a lot of trouble to make a catastrophic mistake. I also suggest it isn’t a problem if some people don’t like us.
Here are some ideas to help you develop confidence in being authentic on social media:
- Let go of being perfect. You’re not. You’re a human being. Shooting for a perfect, polished veneer is the opposite of authenticity. Stop it.
- Stop focussing on what could go wrong and allow more of who you are to shine. One client told me he wanted to have his own beacons. What is the brilliance, experience and wisdom you bring to your industry? Come to understand these better, then share them.
- Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. You’ve been in the game long enough. We need to hear from you too.
- Ask clients, peers and colleagues what makes you unique in the industry. Listen carefully, they’re telling the truth.
- Listen to your spouse or bestie. You know those nights when dinner is over and you’ve been talking about the business? Your spouse looks across the table and tells you how awesome you are and how lucky your clients are. The people who know and love you also know your passion points and how well you look after clients.
- Stay in-service and be values driven. Is there much point being a social media business rock star if you’re not in-service to your industry and clients? Who you are in the virtual world should be the same as who you are in the real world. Do you enjoy sharing knowledge? Do you refer and connect others? Are you generous? Are you positive? Are you honest with critique but always constructive? Then this is how you would behave online as well.
Authenticity speaks volumes about you and touches people in a way spin cannot. You can pay designers and marketers to put a glossy sheen on business, but being yourself is a priceless way to build credibility and reputation.
Are you values driven and authentic on social media? Have you overcome fears and learned to ‘just be yourself’ online?