Authenticity Guidelines

Authenticity is a behavioral quality that enhances your effectiveness with social networking and marketing.

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Just be yourself, right?  It seems easy enough until you are in the spotlight. That's where this gets tricky. The reason is that whenever you are on a stage of any kind – where you know you are being observed, your behavior changes.

That's what makes authenticity a challenge for everyone – including seasoned professionals.  

Have you ever noticed that actors who can deliver their lines on cue are a wreck when they are on the talk shows.  That's because playing a role is not nearly as difficult as being yourself – balancing who you are – your authentic self – with who you think others expect from you.

Here are some guidelines for playing this game to enhance your social media effectiveness.


We have all witnessed how numerous celebrities have stalled their careers by being silent while the rumor mills are churning.  Silence is not golden when it comes to social situations.

The implications of silence are many, and most of them are not good.  When you do NOT respond, the community makes its own assumptions:

  • You don't know.
  • You are holding something back.
  • You are afraid.

It's always best to make a response on the social networks. That response doesn't have to be perfect. Heck, it doesn't even have to be good.  It just has to be a response.

The Past – Not The Future

One of the mistakes I often see is being authentic about what has not yet happened – the future.  It's very humanizing to acknowledge shortcomings and admit mistakes in the past. This can serve to engage you with your community, because we all make mistakes.

Just be careful not to forecast your fears or shortcomings.  For example, while the economy may be challenging, it is not a given that your business will not succeed.

We Can Do The Math

The flip side of being somewhat negative is being overly optimistic – or otherwise stretching the limits of what is reasonable – both past and present.

I always marvel at purported accomplishments that defy what is mathematically possible.  If you claim to have 20 years of business experience and you are 31 years old, that flies in the face of what is authentic for seasoned professionals that have actually earned their stripes in the business world.

Too Much Info

It's usually best to minimize details that will make some people uncomfortable. Life is challenging; we all know that. You can demonstrate your fortitude with panache, or you can drag us through a self-indulgent scenario that just leaves us looking for the exit.

To put it bluntly, don't be a drama queen. Help us learn from your mistakes by just telling us what we need to know.  Give us just enough to understand the situation.

Have a Happy Ending

It's alway best to keep your audience smiling. This doesn't mean being inauthentic.  It just means that everyone roots for the underdog that has somehow managed to overcome obstacles to achieve something – even if that something is ordinary.  

Drama is interesting if it is skillfully used to convey a message.

Use the formula of nearly every successful film:  Somebody … does something … and it works out.

That's the power of stories.

Now go tell us what you really think.  That's what we want to know!

That's what engages an audience, a community, and your future customers.

Has this been helpful?  Leave a comment below or share it with YOUR friends by clicking the Facebook Like button. 

Until tomorrow, Jeff 

Photo Credit:  Photo Gallery

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  1. Jeff, well said, as always! I clicked through your “authenticity” link expecting to see a reference to Jack Welsh somewhere, because he’s not mentioned in this post either. Didn’t see any, I think his words on authenticity still ring very true for business and therefore for social business.

  2. Walter – There is a lot more that could be said here, but these were a few points that have come up in conversations recently.

    Jack Welch? I’ll check into that. The learning process continues … 🙂