BLOG: A Word About Authenticity

As any Social Media/Motivational/Brand Influencer on the Internet will tell you, it's vitally important that you connect on a very deep level with your audience. You have to come across as a real person, and one who understands their hopes, dreams, fears, and occasional psychotic breaks. But how do you deploy the proper amount of empathy for your target audience without having a meltdown yourself? It's a tricky balance.

Honestly, showing authenticity is a trial and error process. It can take a rather lengthy process to decide on what type and level of authenticity works for you. Reverse Engineer your audience and any previous interactions you've had with them. Are there any context clues that you can gain knowledge from. For example, if you realize that a majority of your audience have cats, you may need to head right down to the shelter and get one of the furballs and start posting pictures as if you love the wretched little beast. If you're single, but you have a lot of moms who love their kids, that's a bit more tricky. You can't be a single person on Monday, and have a kid on Tuesday. That's a much longer process. An alternative might be to volunteer at a Children's Hospital or Church Youth Group, but take lots of hand sanitizer in either case.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to expand your base through shows of connection and solidarity. Recent celebrity suicides are a great opportunity to talk about your bout with depression. (you may want to read up on how people with actual depression act in order to pull this off--unless you already struggle with depression, which in this case is sort of a bonus). Senseless tragedy is increasingly a chance for you to show solidarity with your audience, even if you couldn't possibly care less.

Consider how to test for maximum authenticity. Also, consider that different platforms may have different levels of engagement. Your morning iced latte picture might work on Instagram, but may not work as well on Facebook. Maybe a separate picture of you WITH the latte grinning like an idiot (maybe with the furry hellbeast in frame) might work better on Facebook, where nothing is real unless you create the illusion of reality from the get.

In closing, there's a big difference between showing authenticity and being authentic, and the difference is one of them will make you crazy money, and the other will make you crazy.