The Authentic Crisis on Social Media


social media

You have only one job on social media.

Be authentic.

Be true to who you really are.

That’s what they’re saying anyway.

We hear this all day every day, and it’s a sound that continually rings in our ears.

But why aren’t we being who we really are?

This post is activated by a conversation I had with Jason Wiser of OnTrackTips yesterday that resonated with me.

People aren’t authentic; they’re just authentic about telling people to be authentic.

Let’s go deeper.

What Is Authenticity?

To get to the root of the problem, you have to understand the underlying meaning behind the proof.

Authenticity is the truthfulness of origins, attributes, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions.  –Wiki

The true OG.

The pudding that makes up the proof.

But people are way off.

What They Really Are Like

We sing kumbaya, paint pictures of peace and love, hold hands with each other and say it’s all about the follower, knowing that if we don’t get those visitors to our site the money doesn’t come, which means the groceries won’t come, and that opens the door for a lot more problems later.

Let me just set the record straight.

I am all for the social follower.  It’s a good thing to help them get to where they need to be.  But this is simply a strategy!

The main goal for marketers on social media is to bring you to their website so you will buy something, become a client, subscribe to their email list in hopes that later something good will happen for THEM, not you.

Guess what?

I’m here to make money and to support my family.

If it was between you and my kids, I’ll leave you up the creek without a paddle in a heartbeat.

But in order for the money to exchange, you must understand that the follower must be put first.

That’s why the “follower” song and dance is performed so often.

People understand that in order to support their family, they must cater to you.

And that’s a good thing.

You can’t fault someone for putting the brakes on for their family.

But let’s understand the reason for the immediate crisis on social media.

The Claims of Authenticity

Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. A lack of authenticity is considered in existentialism to be bad faith.  Jean-Paul Sarte

Hold on to your seat, this is going to get hairy.

Social media is high school all over again.

You have a choice to play the games that some people play, or you can decide to be true to yourself and walk away.

This is the problem I have with authenticity because it clearly states that in order to be authentic you have to simply be YOU.  Just as the above quote says, be true to your own personality despite the pressure from other people.

This is where the claims of authenticity are false.

There is a psychological need for you to want to be accepted by everyone around you.  Something happens; someone perhaps publicly berates you on social media and you have a choice:

  • Do you engage in a negative word war for everyone to see, speak your mind like you truly want to?
  • Do you ignore it, knowing that perhaps a public outburst from you could hurt your career as a marketer?
  • Or do you engage privately?

Most of the time the answer is we should walk away and ignore those people.

But what if it isn’t a troll, and you are needed to defend yourself?  Do you stay true to what your authentic self wants you to do, or do you reserve the right to show control anyway?

There is something that drives people called “needs of one’s inner being” are diffuse, subjective and often culture bound.  Sometimes authenticity is often at the limits of language it is described as negative space around being truly inauthentic.

The words you say can hurl you into inauthenticity in a moment’s notice.

Be True To You With Your Words

No matter if you are playing the game or not, there will come a time when your authenticity will be challenged.

At this moment, you will have the opportunity to decide what you will do and this very thing will show all of those followers that you love at the moment who you really are on social media.

I know that it’s a nice thought to want to word slap someone publicly, but don’t fall into that trap.

You have come such a long way on social media from where you started, and a simple sentence could destroy everything you have worked for thus far.

First and foremost, even before the follower/reader/subscriber, be true to yourself. The people that need to find you will find you.

They will be drawn to you because of it.

The crisis of authenticity on social media is this: whatever is on the tip of someone’s mind is immediately on the tip of their tongue.

Watch what you say, moderate yourself in everything.

Make sure that everything coming from your brand on social media is truth, honesty, and integrity, because people are harsh critics, and you could destroy yourself with one wrong word.

If it’s authenticity you’re looking for, then bridle your tongue, because words DO hurt. They hurt both parties eventually.

No one wins when negativity is tossed from one person to the next.

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