Social media offers us many opportunities to share and exchange information. With one click you can give others insight into any aspect of your work or private life. But what do you want to share with ‘the online world’ and how can we share information that is relevant and at the same time gives others an authentic picture of who we are?
Authenticity is often referred to as being genuine, being real. It is about showing who you are, being yourself. In this perspective I would like to quote Brené Brown, author of the book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’. In her book she defines authenticity as follows:
“Authenticity is to let go of who you think you need to be and to accept who you really are. To be able to choose to be authentic, you need the courage to be imperfect, you need to set boundaries and permit yourself to be vulnerable. You need connectedness, which is only possible when you believe that you are good enough.”
There are several other people who have come up with meaningful definitions of authenticity, like Simon Sinek, author of the book ‘Start with Why’, who defines authenticity as “You are authentic when you only do and say what you believe.”
Bringing these definitions back to social media, the question is, whether it is possible and desirable to show an authentic picture of yourself online? Do you want to be vulnerable and show your imperfections? And how to define who you are?
Showing your vulnerability? Rather not.
Let’s be honest, feeling vulnerable is not the most pleasant emotion. It comes with shame and even fear as Brené Brown discusses in her book.
So why should we show our vulnerability online?
I think the extent to which you want to share your doubts, thoughts and fears is very personal. For me there are limitations to what I like to share online. I definitely like to add a human touch to what I share on social media; I don’t mind to share my lessons learned or to let others know what I am passionate about. But I don’t think there is any relevance to share all my concerns and worries online.
I believe that it is all about adding some humanness to what you share.
When I wrote the ‘About me’ section on my website I asked myself ‘what do I want to let others know about myself? Do I only share my work experiences or do I want to include something about myself as a person?’ For me the latter part was quite important too. I decided to include something about my passion for travelling and that I enjoy doing yoga and meditation ‘to keep my feet on the ground’. Sharing this made me feel vulnerable. What would other people think?
On the other hand I think it is especially the human side that people care about. We want to know who the person is behind the brand, expertise and products. We want to know what they care about and are passionate about. Vulnerability and being human are aspects of authenticity.
What do you bring to the table?
Another important element has to do with ‘who you are’. If you would like to be authentic online, it is important to know what you bring to the table, as this is the source of inspiration for your blogs and other content you would like to share online.
What you bring to the table is more than just your expertise or work experience. It is the complete picture that represents YOU.
In this perspective you can look at different areas:
- Your work experience. What jobs & roles did you have? Have you lived and worked abroad? What have you learned? How have these experiences shaped your personality?
If you have your own company it is definitely helpful to go through your resume. Analyzing your work experiences will help you understand what makes you and your company unique. You might offer a similar service as your competitor does, but your approach will be different because of your previous experiences.
- Your hobbies & interests. What do you like to do in your free time? What interests you? What topics do you like to read about? There will be many people out there with similar interests. Your interests (in combination with your work experience) might even be a good starting point for further defining your niche.
- Your personal life stories. What have been important events & experiences in your life? Think about the places where you lived, the choices you have made in relation to work, relationships & family. How have they shaped your perspective on yourself and others?
- Your values. Values can be defined as what you find important in relation to your own life and in relation to others. Do you want to be successful? Would you like to contribute to a better environment? Do you aim for creating balance in our life?
Just simply going through these areas will definitely give you new insights about yourself, and new inspiration for your content online.
So back to the question if authenticity and social media go together. I think to a large extent they do. I am convinced that being authentic in a way is a great start for establishing connections with people we meet, whether this is offline or in the online world.
And what do you think? Authenticity and social media, do they go together?
This blog is part of a series of blogs about Building Meaningful Connections on Social Media.
Other blogs in this series include: