Picture this: You’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and looking at your News Feed. Your friend Jenny has posted a picture of her adorable baby sleeping like an angel, Joe has posted a picture of him and his girlfriend on a beach in Mexico, Sam went to a huge party and hashtagged #lovemyfriendslovemylife and the random celebrity you follow is just hanging out with their cat on a Tuesday night with a caption: “Stars-They’re just like us!” This is an average day in the life of these people. Except that it’s probably not. What you didn’t see is that Jenny’s adorable baby cried for six hours straight and now that it’s sleeping she took a photo because she never thought it was going to end, that Joe and his girlfriend got into a fight over where to go for dinner after that shot, that Sam is trying to impress the person he’s into and now has the hangover of the century. And that celebrity you love? They started their day at 3am and are in bed with their cat because they have to do the same thing tomorrow and just can’t even!
This all isn’t really news to us, because we likely do the same on our own feed. The reality is that what we see on social media generally doesn’t portray reality! My question is (as many a memes so eloquently puts it) “Y Tho?”
Recently I attended an ‘InstaMeet” here in Vancouver in order to learn how a variety of successful social media mavens make Instagram work for themselves and their businesses. The panel was a broad spectrum of personalities, from big names like HelloBC and Hootsuite, to local startups and entrepreneurs like Vancity Buzz and Vancity Wild. There was a lot of info on how they all got started, what they found worked best and how to ‘handle your handle’. One thing that stood out to me was the overarching theme of authenticity. Each person in the course of an hour and a half mentioned how important it is to show up as close to yourself as possible and how that really helped them generate interest, and develop their brand. This seems straight-forward enough but when you really think about it, what the hell does that even mean?!
As a confidence coach I continually say to my clients “Just Be Yourself” and we go over what that looks like (usually in the world of dating) but how does one go about being genuine when portraying an image or a brand?
In a world full of filters, editing tools and Kardashians how does one go about being ‘real’? How do you keep people engaged and create meaningful content that people are interested in while staying authentic?
Studies suggest that ‘behind the scenes’ posts, and pictures that include people in them get more likes than almost any other photos on Instagram. Psychologically this makes sense because seeing other people allows us to relate to each other and connect. (We are social animals after all!) But why then do so many of us hide behind the image we’ve curated on social media? How can we as businesses market ourselves authentically in order to create a following on social media? To me, being yourself is about being willing to be vulnerable; to say what you think and stand up for what you believe in all aspects of your life. It means aligning your values with your content whether personal or professional (even better if those two align as well). If I want my clients to ‘be themselves’ you’d better believe I’m being myself! This doesn’t mean oversharing (you have a right to a private life), or pushing your beliefs on others, it just means that if someone asks you to promote their product/company and you don’t like how they do business then you say “No”. It means only liking and commenting on content that you actually like; not liking for likes or following for followers. (A health and fitness company probably shouldn’t be following a cigarette company. How does that make sense?) It means occasionally offering a bit of truth of what your life/business really is. (Sometimes it’s also nice to see that personal trainer eating a donut... or 6, and not just pumping iron all day everyday.) We are all human, which means we are ALL flawed. We all have that piece of us that isn’t what we’d like others to see and ironically that’s one of the biggest connection and marketing tools we have! People LOVE to see the ‘dark side’ or the ‘real you’--especially if you’re really successful. Why do you think we are so interested in the ‘downfall’ of T-Swift? Because it’s an example of how people aren’t perfect. I think you get the idea.
So what I’m saying is this: Yes, curate your content. Make it look good. Use the best pictures and content to reflect you and your brand. But don’t curate your life! Occasionally post a ‘behind the scenes “I just ate 6 donuts” shot.
Add a little reality to that ‘perfection’ and see what happens. You might just get a few more likes, and maybe even a few more IRL friends, too.
Kendra Hadley is a Certified Life Coach, Registered Professional Counsellor and Workshop Facilitator in Vancouver BC, Canada who is passionate about helping clients own their shit, and love their lives through self care and self love in order to let their inner awesome shine through! Connect with her “authentic self” on social media:
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