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Balancing Authenticity and Comfort Online

In recent years, being authentic online has been a topic of focus. We want to project our true selves to reflect what makes us unique and attractive to our customer base. After all, distinguishing ourselves from other brands is what we want to accomplish as a business. But, what if we end up sharing too much online?

Last fall, pop icon Demi Lovato made waves on Instagram when she shared an unedited photo of herself in a bikini. Demi has come so far over the last few years, and we love her triumphant story. However, this photo made us think, “Is this something that we would be comfortable with?”

Yes, being authentic is important. We don’t want to try to be something we’re not, both online and in our everyday lives. But, does that mean we need to bare all?  What we suggest is finding that balance between authenticity and comfort.

Take our own Mich Hancock, for example. She always has her hands full, running successful businesses. If you take a look at any of Mich’s social feeds, you’ll see many photos of her in the podcast studio, smiling with her guests. She takes these candid photos herself – and she admits that they are not always perfect – but they are authentic. What you see are her days as they are happening, without arranging people or enabling filters on top of filters. And Mich says that there will be no bikini pics – ever – lol!

The science of authenticity is fascinating, and being authentic online does have some benefits! Here are just a few:

– Your followers will probably resonate with authenticity.
Scrolling through social feeds, we’re seeing the highlight reel of people’s lives. We all have bad days, and it’s okay to share – but share what you are comfortable sharing without crossing the line into TMI. When you’ve shown that even the most organized boss babe can have an off day, you’re rallying your followers to support you and the others around them. What a great way to spread kindness!

– You can tap into the power of vulnerability.
Being vulnerable online and sharing those less-than-perfect moments takes courage. We are faced with photos showcasing the perfect outfit, plated dish, and styled composition, which gives us unreal expectations! If you have something you want to share with your customers, snap a photo and add that fun caption. Don’t worry if the light isn’t perfect (unless you’re a professional photographer!). You’re giving your followers a glimpse into your work, something they want to see. If you still need convincing on how amazing vulnerability can be, take a few minutes to listen to this TED Talk.

– You can gain trust with followers.
Authenticity and trust go hand-in-hand, resist being something you’re not. Establishing that you\’re being your true self online establishes invaluable trust to those who are consuming your content. And, those who trust you will invest in your brand and become loyal to your business, something every entrepreneur needs to be successful.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of being authentic online, we need to remember to strike the proper chord between this type of content and making sure you’re still in your comfort zone. Find your balance by:

– Inventorying yourself and your brand.
It’s important to know what types of authentic content related to your online brand will stand out to your customers. If there are gaps of content that others in your industry aren’t covering, you might want to investigate posting about those topics. However, know yourself personally enough to understand if you’re comfortable sharing your insights around that content. You don’t want to put yourself in a tough spot just because you’re searching for authenticity. It could benefit you to make lists of content you’re comfortable with, alongside the ideas that would be too much of a stretch for your personal brand. Know your limits and stick to them.

– Be strategic.
Being authentic does not mean unhinging an emotionally-charged rant when you’re feeling upset. Privacy is so important, especially online. You’re not obligated to detail each part of your struggle. For instance, if you’ve given a sub-par presentation, it will not benefit you to revisit a play-by-play of the situation. However, saying something like, “Who out there has struggled with a professional task? Sometimes I drop the ball and worry I’ve done some real damage. How do each of you move forward when that thought kicks in?” You’ll probably find yourself faced with a community that can identify with this and offer support and kind words. You can use your circumstances to be authentic, without revisiting an unfortunate event.

– Listen to your audience.
Once you’ve began sharing more authentic content, your audience will respond. By analyzing which posts have more likes, comments, and retweets, you might see a pattern regarding the topics that resonate the most. Use that data to enhance your content calendar and give your audience more of what they can relate to. It will show that you are invested in what makes them tick as well, and will further enhance the trust between your brand and its consumers.

– Remember: Don’t seek perfection.
For so long, we’ve been fed images oozing with perfection. There’s retouching and filters, the most perfectly written comment, and a video that is seamless. Even though we understand that it’s not realistic, sometimes we still ending up holding ourselves to this impossible standard. It’s imperative that we take the time to understand we can share a photo or thought without over-analyzing it. Be yourself, because no one is perfect!

If you are finding this balance between being your unique, authentic self and being comfortable might difficult – we can help! Utilize our marketing strategy sessions to gain insight into what makes your business and your personal brand tick, and begin a relationship with us that will ensure you’re reaching important clients and creating engaging, real content that fits perfectly into your comfort zone. Reach out today to get started!