We easily default to thinking the person next to us is perpetually happy or successful – all those photos of new cars, cute babies, and freshly renovated houses posted to people’s social accounts have a great way of highlighting what we think we’re missing. Remembering that people aren’t likely to broadcast their dark days is hard, but we must try.
Recognising your strengths as an individual, a couple or a business is great, but equally, so is admitting your weaknesses. It’s in this space that we can really grow and discover our authentic branding. Social media and the internet can make us think our relationship isn’t as love-filled as our mate Sarah who’s always posting photos of the roses Taylor buys her. Sure, that’s really nice for Sarah, but it’s only a partial truth. The photographs of the roses themselves aren’t deceptive, rather, the idealism that life is always smelling of roses is. Social media’s pretty good at that.
So how can we be more authentic online? Do we post videos on Instagram of us arguing with our partner about whose turn it is to take out the rubbish? Or do we live-Tweet our daily mistakes in the workplace for our boss and the world to see? (Note: being on Twitter at work is probably a mistake to begin with!) Being genuine in an age where it’s common practice to embellish successes online can feel impossible, but it definitely doesn’t have to be.
To begin, here are three simple steps to being more authentic online (and offline):
1. Define Your Values
Really take the time to figure out what your values are. Do you actually value beating the competition in your industry, or do you value earning a living wage doing what you love? When you know what you truly care about, you can more effectively decide what’s good to post online and what isn’t. For example, creating a case study portfolio of successful projects for a business website will reflect the value of producing good work, generating more business and keeping clients happy. On the flip side, making false claims about customer satisfaction or posting fake portfolios on a business website feeds a shallow motive of lying to appear more adept than you really are. Choose your values wisely.
2. Always Practice Authentic Branding
Don’t make false claims online, or ever. When the right people realise that you’ve oversold yourself, it will leave them frustrated and you with egg on your face. We’re not all perfect – play to your strengths, but don’t deny your weaknesses; remember that everyone is human, and life isn’t a competition. It’s pretty easy to tell when people are faking it, and if it isn’t apparent straight away, it won’t be too long before it is. You don’t have to remember a lie if you make authentic branding a daily practice.
3. Water Your Own Garden
If you’re panicking because the cafe next door posts daily photos on Facebook of hundreds of customers, while your last patron was a cricket, remember that we’re all just human. Your competitor isn’t busier because of all the photo-posting; they’re simply doing something differently that works. You won’t improve if you suppose there’s something divine at play making those around you more successful than you are. Don’t forget the rest of the iceberg floating beneath the surface. Nobody is an overnight success, so buckle down and find out what you could be doing better. And don’t be afraid to reach out for support. There are many places to gain advice or guidance – it’s why strategy coaches and consultancy businesses exist.
It’s incredibly easy to fabricate parts of our lives online. When a screen, keyboard and geographical distance separates you from your audience, going down the rabbit hole of embellishing successes can be tempting. Try to apply real-world values and morals in the digital space and remember that not everything you read online is necessarily a whole truth. Remaining authentic in the digital sphere needn’t be a difficult initiative; in fact, we’d argue that online authenticity is as important as personal authenticity. After all, our online personas are merely an extension of our actual selves, so stay true.
If projecting your brand’s authenticity online is proving harder than you expected, the creative experts at BEING are here to help. We’ve been cultivating our own truth since the beginning, and we think we’ve become pretty good at depicting our genuine selves and values in everything we do. Find out if we can help.