Be authentic. Be authentic. Be authentic. Arrrghhhh!
When most entrepreneurs hear that they need to be authentic, they sometimes start over-sharing. Okay, you want authentic, here’s a video of me eating a healthy breakfast today. Now here’s a pic of me in my bathrobe…yay, I shower everyday. Ok, now I gotta IG my lunch, ya’ know?
Ooh look how authentic I’m being by sharing, like, everything. Wait, what the heck does that have to do with content marketing?
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
How the heck does one be authentic without becoming a selfie-taking monster obsessed with capturing each and every living moment of their day?
Ah, glad you asked. In this video, I share 3 tips on being your most authentic self without becoming a crass over-sharer.
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Okay, so now it’s YOUR turn. In the comments below tell me how you gauge what you should share on social media and your blog versus what should stay in the bedroom, if ya’ know what I mean 😉
Authenticity: What is it?
Authenticity is a huge buzzword in storytelling and the online marketing world right now. With all the brouhaha over being authentic, I just want to talk about for a bit what it means to be authentic as an entrepreneur who’s building her brand.
Authenticity is a personality trait. It’s how you present yourself to the world – whole, real, raw, unique. It’s your opinions. It’s the way you do business. It’s how you dress. It’s what you share about your work.
So there are tons of ways for entrepreneurs to share their authentic story, right? Some share it on their About Page, others share it in podcasts and interviews, others blog about it, and so on. So essentially any opportunity that you get to be visible, you have a choice whether to share something authentic about you or not.
Why Do You Need to be Authentic?
Authenticity can be a real and tangible differentiator in business.
You probably follow a whole host of people online, right? But there usually just handful of people who we REALLY closely follow and when someone asks you why do you follow this person, one of the most common things we say is that “yeah she seems real” or “he’s the real deal”, you know?
Why do we say this?
We say that someone is real because we like them. People who are authentic are super likeable.
They appear to have problems, and challenges, and an outlook on life and they go about their business just being themselves.
So, in other words, authenticity is the opposite of perfection. People who are genuinely authentic are not perfect, and they are OK in admitting that.
How Does Vulnerability Tie in?
When I think about not being perfect, I think about Brene Brown. Her super popular TEDtalk on the Power of Vulnerability probably introduced our modern world to just how powerful being authentic can really be.
She said: “Imperfections are not inadequacies. They are reminders that we’re all in this together”.
I mean if I had to think about a word that was the opposite of perfectionism, it would have to be vulnerability. Most people (and businesses) think that being vulnerable and unsure and hesitant, is a sign of weakness. But really, it’s the point when we admit that we don’t know everything but here’s what we do know and here’s what we need to learn that the most growth happens.
So, now that you know that being authentic and vulnerable are actually great qualities to have as an entrepreneur, how do you actually practice this stuff without falling into the all-too-common problem of becoming an over-sharer?
A lot of times people confuse being authentic as having to share every little itty-bittty detail of their lives with their audience. This works well if you’re a celebrity (e.g. kardashians) but if you’re an entrepreneur building a business, you have to be a little bit strategic in what and how you share, while still staying true to yourself.
My 3 Tips to Being Authentic without Going TMI
1. Stay Relevant
If your business is about nutrition and fitness, don’t suddenly start sharing what car you are planning to buy. People are coming to your website to read your healthy eating tips, and they’re just going to get confused if they see car advice suddenly. The only caveat to this rule is if you can relate off-topics to your main topic. So for example, if your site is about healthy living, and you talk about buying an eco-friendly car, then that might work.
2. Get Permission (before sharing stuff that might affect others)
Everyone loves a rags to riches story. But what if an integral part of your story was how dirt poor your parents were and how they couldn’t provide for you…if you shared all those nitty gritty details your parents might actually be really hurt by that info being public in that manner. A good rule of thumb is to simply ask or show people what you are about to share and why if it’s going to affect them in some way. In your zeal to be authentic, you definitely don’t want to trample on anyone’s feelings!
3. Don’t go on a Rant; Have a Takeaway of Sorts
There’s a difference between sharing an authentic story and a rant. A rant doesn’t have any utility for the audience. Sure, I might be really pissed at the cable company’s horrible customer service, but how does that benefit my audience? Unless, I turn that experience into a talk about how businesses can serve their customers better. Then there’s a takeaway. Then my TMI about the cable company actually becomes a lesson in social media usage or whatever.
Remember, it’s all good to be authentic and vulnerable, but make sure no one gets hurt in the process and that your audience actually values the stories you share.
In the comments I want to hear from you. How do you decide what to share and what not to share?
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