People bandy around “authentic” as a cool term for being “real” and “tough”– whether it means sharing raw stories, dropping F- bombs, or not wearing make-up.
But what does it really mean to be “authentic” on social media?
Let’s talk about what this means for us as entrepreneurs, experts, and coaches– the dangers, pitfalls, and mistakes we see people make. And let’s map out practical strategies for us to build our brands in an authoritative, professional, and “authentic” fashion.
YOU ARE NOT GARYVEE
Unless Gary is reading this article– you are not him. So being authentic by mimicking his course manner, which is probably different than your true self is like being one of those kids in high school who wears all black, thinking they’re different. You got a mental picture of that just now, didn’t you?
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS?
Remember that interview question?
Instead of revealing something deeply personal (perhaps you’ve been to jail for something embarrassing or are struggling with alcohol), you know to say something like “I’m a perfectionist, so sometimes I take longer on projects because I want to do a great job!”
Ryan Stewman is a popular salesman on social media, boldly sharing his prison time, tattoos, ex-wife issues, and surprising ascent into wealth.
His posts get massive reach because he has unfiltered stories on his work ethic, his political views, and his luxurious lifestyle.
People admire the Susan Boyle’s and Ryan Stewman’s because their success gives hope to others who are downtrodden, facing impossible situations.
If you’re a nobody, but work hard enough and believe, your time will come, too.
Yet my friend, Leonard Kim, one of the top authors on Quora, high powered speaker, and author of several books, only talks about failures.
His TEDx talk is only about his failures– going from one personal disaster to another.
You’re waiting for the sudden success, like at the end of a movie, but it never happens.
His copywriting skills land him major clients that allow him to live well– they see his traffic and come to him, without him ever needing to sell.
His ability to drive traffic in social media is not as a rags-to- riches inspirational story, but as a horrific car accident that people can’t help to watch.
It could be all an elaborate act to generate attention, but it could be a sign that being a bit too authentic, while effective at driving social engagement, can still be a viable option.
Consider what you’re comfortable with sharing publicly as a “failure”— ranging from running out of gas to getting convicted of multiple felonies.
THE 3 PART HOLLYWOOD STORY ARC
Also known as the “Hero’s Journey”, this is the most common framework used by motivational speakers.
They build rapport with the audience, have some sort of crushing failure that we identify with, and then win big at the end.
Because they are “just like us”, they map out a plausible path for us to succeed in the same way– allowing them to peddle their wares at the end of the presentation.
The most successful personal brands are intentionally sharing their “failures” in this calculated framework– designed to trigger your emotional buying.
Watch their social posts carefully to see how this is done, just like in popular movies– where Harry Potter kills Voldemort at the end, Rocky knocks out the bad guy at the end, Sleeping Beauty awakens to the charming prince at the end.
What are key moments in your life where you can map a failure into this 3 part story arc, leading naturally into selling your coaching services, since you have a journey that your ideal client can follow?
BEING AUTHENTIC ISN’T POSSIBLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Mark Twain said that the key to success is to be genuine. Fake that and you’ve got it made.
If you’re truly “authentic” all the time, then you’re sharing opinions and situations that aren’t popular.
Maybe you have a view on masks or a political figure that is controversial.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Roger Stone. Without thinking, I took a picture of us together and posted it on Facebook. For those who don’t know, Roger Stone is one of Donald Trump’s closest friends, sentenced to prison for election meddling. But he got a pardon from Trump, which angered many.
The post I made on Facebook with a picture of me and Roger Stone went bananas.
I was accused of promoting evil, called unspeakable names, and was unfriended. I made the post to test how sensitive people would be, given the current craziness in this world. And I underestimated the amount of wrath I’d stir up.
In current times, posting controversial opinions will damage your social media reputation. So I believe that it’s increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to be truly “authentic” on social media.
ARE WE ALL LIARS?
No. Not being 100% authentic all the time on social media doesn’t make us liars.
It means that we refrain from posting content that would unnecessarily rile people up.
We’re selective about what we say, knowing that we are always in a PR campaign, where our words can be used against us.
When we tell stories that have an emotional payload, we make sure to tie it to a larger learning via the 3 part story arc of the Hero’s Journey or other method.
Then it’s clear value instead of a stream of random suffering.
Ironically, when you follow this strategy, which can be framed as hook/story/offer or WHY/HOW/WHAT, you’ve unlocked an incredible way to tell authentic stories that drive traffic and earnings for your coaching business!