Buzz Word: Authenticity

Authenticity is the buzzword of the moment. To be honest, it’s been in the spotlight for a little while now with growing momentum and meaning. With everyone living so much of our lives online there’s a widespread understanding that we’re all curating what everyone else sees. We are selecting images, videos, settings, outfits and every other detail to suit the version of ourselves we want people to see and know.

This can mean entire angles, entire stories and aspects of a person are left off of their instagram feed and their followers are left with big gaps. They feel, then, that they are not being told the truth because the story they are being told is so incomplete. While you might be always telling the truth and posting things that you feel truly represent you, if there’s big pieces (your bad days, your bad angles, your struggles, etc) left out, so only the good shows, your followers may receive it as hollow and lacking authenticity.

We all know our own lives completely – of course including (and probably over-focusing on) our less than optimal moments. Therefore we are a little sensitive to these totally perfect versions of other people we might see online.

This lead to an influx of social media giants posting to fill that gap – posting their rolls, their cellulite, their unflattering angles, their bad days. They did this to create a more whole and complete image of themselves online. To help their followers overcome some of the self-image issues that arise when we spend all day viewing only the best angles of everybody else, while seeing all our own “imperfections”.

The challenge is that now even the way these “authentic” posts are presented feels a little… performed. I see many on social media being very mistrustful. They question the motives of those who post the traditionally hidden sides of themselves. They question efforts of posters to “be authentic”. It’s understandable. Authenticity, by its very definition, resists being performed or intentionally committed. It’s difficult to curate something and create authenticity. Particularly for a generation that was taught in many ways curate to an extreme and to reserve our authentic selves as exclusive to our “offline” lives.

So how do you incorporate authenticity? How do you participate in and deliver what is craved by the masses, without having it ring hollow for your followers?

In business it can look many ways – such as posting the behind the scenes, your processes, and the ways in which your business is growing and evolving.

It can also mean showing yourself as the business owner or employee, and including a human face while talking about and showcasing your products.

These types of posts really help elevate your account because they go beyond the product. I’ll talk more about this idea in another post but the short and sweet of it is that if people only see what you’re selling they’ll probably skip following you – after all they’d rather follow a person than an ad stream.

Another way you might incorporate authenticity is by shouting out and supporting other businesses. With the curation that authenticity pushes against came an undercurrent of competition. When businesses shout out and support each other they move past this competitive attitude and start to show a more personal, connected and community based attitude.

To have the best idea of how you want to engage with the authenticity trend you must consider where that trend came from. You must understand it as a push back against highly curated feeds and perfectionism, and a call instead for humanity, and vulnerability.

Aside from the content that you post you can add authenticity by replying thoughtfully to comments and messages. Those connections are important, no matter what your business!

Still struggling with authenticity? Let’s connect in a strategy session and I can help!

Published by Carmen

I'm a blogger and social entrepreneur. Although I call myself a city girl I live in the woods somewhere outside of Toronto. I can usually be found talking to my cat and looking for snacks.

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