Tips for Being More Authentic Online
Let’s talk about authenticity. I know, I know; roll your eyes and keep reading. I host a video series called Office Hours where I answer social media questions in a quick 1-minute video. My friend (and blogger) Dina of Dina's Days asked me to talk about doing authentic wrong (and yes, I know that should be an adverb). I've been blogging since 2007, taken years of writing classes, and earn a living making brands and companies look authentic online. Here’s my two cents.
Telling me you’re authentic doesn’t make me believe you’re authentic. SHOWING me you’re authentic does. How do you do that? Show me some mid-range vulnerability. Show me a hashtag: real life photo with a caption about an issue you’re currently struggling with, like going back to work after having a baby, or continuing to make art even though you wonder if you should be spending all your time attending marches and rallies.
Keep it mid-range, and by that I mean, don’t interrupt a 2-year streak of professional fashion pictures to tell me that you’re a serial killer. You’ve got to build up to that shit. Brene Brown (prayer hands emoji) calls this floodlighting - when the information you’re sharing is heavier than the relationship can hold (Google it).
Telling me you’re authentic doesn’t work. Floodlighting doesn’t work. Drop little vulnerability morsels along the way, so that when you want to tell me that great, big thing, I’ve been following along with you.
Here are some tips for being more authentic online:
- Don't write the caption like you're talking to your 2K followers, write the caption like you're talking to your best friend.
- Instagram is a visual platform. That being said, don't try to sell me authenticity with a photoshopped picture. (Disclaimer: I have 100% done this.) Save your best pictures for the throw-away captions like "Sunday funday!". Use your good pictures for the post where you need to get three paragraphs of content off your chest.
- Show your real life, be it your workspace, the way your organize your jewelry, dropping the kids off at school, etc. One or two of those a month builds an authentic presence.
- If you like to keep your feed aesthetically cohesive and a picture of seven empty Taco Bell wrappers would really harsh your vibe, UTILIZE STORIES. Use Instagram Stories to show your life behind the pretty pictures.
- Never type, "I'm authentic" into a caption on any platform anywhere.