My Love/Hate Relationship with the Word ‘Authenticity’ Through The Lens of Social Media

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Branding, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Marketing, Need to Know, Social Media, Social Media Strategy, TikTok, Twitter, Video

Authenticity. Bet you’ve never heard that word before, eh? If you’re like me, your skin crawls a bit every time you hear a megacorp or uber-filtered influencer talking about authenticity. 

Because, seriously, how authentic is a giant corporation or an Instagram supermodel ever going to be? Their whole job is to present a perfectly branded façade and convince us that’s who they are. The “story” they’re sharing was written by some smooth-talking PR rep in a corner office. And that “#nofilter” selfie? Taken by a pro photog.

Ain’t nothing authentic about that, you Fakey McFakers.

So what is authenticity, really?

The good thing is that for regular solopreneurs and small businesses, it’s easier to be authentic. We don’t have the weight of a gazillion shareholders or investors demanding that we strive for brand ~perfection~ at every moment.

But what do we mean by this whole authenticity thing? Basically, when we’re telling people to be authentic, we’re asking them to be real. BE YOU! Stop trying to fit yourself into the mold of others you see through your scrolling behavior. We want to see the person behind the polished curtain of professionalism.  

Authenticity is about being transparent, consistent, and vulnerable.

It’s about taking a deep breath, figuring out what you’re all about, and rolling with it. It’s about doing those things that you’re maybe shy or nervous about because they need to be done, and letting it all hang out in the public realm (well, maybe not all of it. Keep it PG, kids.) It’s about speaking truthfully and honestly instead of parroting a turn of phrase your PR rep has fed you or the competitor in your niche claimed as gospel. 

But I get it, it’s hard. It’s hard not to put on your Fancy Phone Voice when you’re recording something. It’s freaky staring at your face on Zoom and wondering what people are thinking about your interior decor and that cat butt that just wandered past. We all get worried about oversharing or seeming unprofessional or messing something up. 

But seriously, the trick to being authentic? It’s becoming okay with not being perfect. If you’re going Live on Facebook, embrace the messiness. If you’re making a Reel, let that first take be the take. Put it out there and let it be good enough. Give up some control. As a recovering perfectionist myself, this pill IS hard to swallow. 

If a brand as big as National Geographic has the guts to give its field photographers the password to its Instagram account (seriously – those photos and captions aren’t coming from HQ!), you can lean into the truth of who you are. That doesn’t mean you have to take huge risks or put your darkest secrets out there for the whole world to see. Share what matters. Do what feels right. That’s being authentic. 

Even if you’re filming it in your bunny slippers. Especially if you’re filming it in your bunny slippers.

People will love you for being you

The biggest reason to be authentic? Not only does it take a whole weight off your shoulders about the ~brand~ you’re meant to be projecting, but people love it. I’m being real here (really!) Customers, clients, and your team members are way more forgiving when you’re just doing your thing on social instead of turning every moment into a Vogue photoshoot. 

Because people see through that stuff now. We’re advertised to all the time, and we know when it’s happening. And we’re hesitant about all that extreme perfection – because we know how it affects us. People are more careful consumers these days, and they’re more accepting of imperfection, because it doesn’t read as an ad. It reads as a human trying to connect with other people.

And seriously, the times that I’ve gone out there in bed-hair mode on my first cup of coffee to talk to y’all about what’s on my mind, what new things I’m working on, or what’s stressing me out – those have been some of my best moments on social. And the connection, engagement, encouragement and great discussions that have come out of those have turned into amazing opportunities.

So here’s my challenge to you. Think about what authenticity looks like to you – for you. Then tag me in a post where you’re doing your authentic thing. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Scared to let loose with the real you on social? Ping me, and we’ll work through it to get you where you need to be.