After encountering folks and companies online that are not necessarily what they may say they are, I started to think of what it was that bothered me about the inconsistency. It comes down to one of my core values: authenticity. I strongly believe in being who one is wherever you are, perhaps this is due to coming out at age 17, and generally being a “weird kid” growing up, but authenticity was an area I wanted to explore further. Especially with regard to who it fits into our modern social media world.
The internet allows for anonymity. That can be a very great thing when revolutions or political persecution are involved. Otherwise, I 100% support using one’s real name online.
A real name alone is not enough. One can use their real name and not be honest about who they are. I believe inauthenticity is not only harmful to our online interactions, but to our communities, businesses, and over all, our world.
Be yourself. Period.
How authenticity affects a person’s online identity
If you are going to be present online, then you need to be yourself. Social media success requires content creation in one’s own voice, be it as an individual or a company. The internet is, somewhat ironically, based on trust. When people are disingenuous with who they are online, it can affect their offline life. Act as “another person” online and your interactions will be suspect. Trust will be lost.
How authenticity affects businesses
Businesses used to think it crucial to control and manage their identity both on and offline. Conventional marketing wisdom would stress the importance of companies ‘controlling’ or managing their brand and image. The internet is causing a revolution in this area. Customers are keen to interact with their favourite brands. They also want to share their impressions and expect to be able to do so. Companies can choose to harness this power with their greatest asset – their human resources. Allow your employees to interact with your customers on social media in an authentic and heartfelt way and your business will boom. Try to control and manage your customer’s speech and employees interactions and get ready for a backlash.
It is necessary to have a social media policy that provides clarity to your employees as to your business goals, and objectives. This will allow you to create a culture of brand ambassadors. Without such a policy, confusion and hesitation will lead to a lack of employee participation and inconsistent messaging. Provide your employees with guidance and encourage them to shine.
When a company or brand lies or misleads people in social media, they are often punished by their customers. If your company makes an error, please be honest, transparent and real in your handling of the situation.
How authenticity affects our world
Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. Could you imagine a world where everyone lived like that? I sure could. Life would be much easier for all of us if we could find the courage to practice authenticity. Let’s face it, we all look for this and crave it in our relationships with people. Being authentic allows and encourages others to do the same.
Consistent authenticity has the power to change a world in which even the smallest voice can be heard.
Authenticity is essential in online community. If you engage your community as your authentic self you never have to worry about being called out on inconsistency. Your community members can easily find out if there is something up, and can call you out on it. Just be yourself and avoid the mess.
An authentic voice means that your community members can trust you. Once that trust has been built (it will take time, and careful consideration) you will have community members who are devoted to your brand. The creation of a positive community around your brand will be far more rewarding in word of mouth than any quick one-off email campaign.
An authentic social media presence:
- is easier
- more engaging
- more interactive
- creates greater brand affinity
- increased trust
- encourages others to interact authentically
- helps create a better world for everyone, one interaction at a time.
Your authenticity WILL inspire others. Now go be yourself, increase your social media credit, and shine your light brightly!