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Problems with Social Media: Authenticity Vs. Professionalism
Guys, it took me like two days to put my thoughts together but for some strange reason I decided to share them only on SEOclerk community board. Be assured it is unique and not copied from anywhere. So. let's start...
As social media continues its long soak into the wider culture, penetrating into the millions of people who haven’t gotten on board, a whole raft of issues emerges from the growth of these “late adopters.” That sounds like its a pejorative term, but it isn’t really. The fact is many people have missed the boat, have consciously decided that social media wasn’t for them or their business. Fine, no biggie. When you do finally engage, and engage you will at some point or another, I’ll welcome you with open arms.
Recently, both my parents, as well as a few other people whose opinion and input I value and seek out, have mentioned that there were times when they thought my honesty in my writings was potentially harmful to my business (for those, who are curious I am talking about https://www.promotionseo.com) as a social media strategist. I am happy to report that business is strong and I have commitments from clients well into the Spring.
But more than my blogging, my Facebook and Twitter posts are occasionally extremely personal, risque, politically incorrect, as well as, potentially, offensive. I acknowledge this and believe it part of my project to be as authentic and honest as possible. I consider my followers and friends, my connections, an integral part of my project.
Entertainment has always been and will always be, a part of that project. I love the mystery and aura that I’ve seemed to portray through my social outreach. Some people don’t seem to know when I am being super honest or when I am simply lying or being a fabulist. I rather like them not knowing because either way I am watched and for an attention whore like myself, that appeals to me.
What Happens When Being Authentic is Bad for Business?
But lately, it has occurred to me to consider the criticisms of my parents and trusted friends beyond their initial implications. Their posture is certainly one of wanting to see my continual success. Of that, there is no doubt. So I’ve been musing on this issue out of respect for them.
And I have reached a decision that for the time being I feel comfortable with, but one that I also want the input from the larger
That decision, in as few words as possible is, if a client or potential client is turned off by anything that I might say or do in my
social media activities, then quite simply that client is not for me. The reality is that nothing I am doing is harmful to my abilities to perform the duties that I lay out before I work with a client. And in fact, it is my belief that as my project continues my authentic voice will evolve and that brings SO much more positives to my clients.
The reasoning behind this seems solid to me.
It enables me to be trusted, to be respected by the social media community. Sure there will be people I turn off or offend, and I lament every occasion when that is the case. But for every soul I lose, I gain new people and new levels of trust. I have seen it with so many and I have faith that this is the case. That being said, I am cognizant of the fact that I do not have carte blanche to say any and everything that pops into my head, nor should I. That would be very unique if I did. I don’t think anyone has that freedom.
Always Err on the Side of Authenticity.
Let’s blow this debate up a little bit to encompass brands and businesses who have started, or will soon do so, engaging their native audiences through social media channels. For businesses who are accustomed to being less than authentic, social media presents a challenge. Individuals with no liabilities can do and say whatever they want. They have nothing to lose in a sense.
But a business has itself to lose. And the default reaction will always be to say less and hide more. This is the wrong decision and for now, especially in the beginning, a business should always be willing to err on the side of authenticity.
It’s much easier to apologize for a comment than it is to turn people off with a pretense of authenticity. Businesses who engage social media need to make mistakes at first. No one becomes excellent at social media on their first attempts. Not in a world as complex and sophisticated as social media is.
Who would even WANT to be good at it right from the start? Did you hit a homerun the first time you held a baseball bat?
But even when mistakes are made, I would rather those mistakes be a matter of being TOO honest, TOO authentic. You may piss people off and those people can be apologized to later. But the people you don’t piss off, those who stick around, will appreciate you all the more