Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Authenticity: Are we actually ready for honesty on social media?

Abraham Lincoln

'Be yourself' and 'be authentic' are two of the most frequent pieces of advice I hear when I go to social media conferences. In fact, besides engagement, they are two terms that seem to pepper every single presentation I see given to businesses of all sizes. I mean, I even use these phrases myself. But have we actually all stopped to think about what true authenticity is on social media, and if we can even really handle it?

I read a great article on Soshable yesterday from the editor in which he 'outed' himself as a conservative christian working in the tech sphere.

Although I'm sure that he is not alone, I was particularly impressed with how candid he was. Religious folk in general seem to get a particularly bad rap on social media, and are attacked for being stupid, anti-gay or murderous (in the case of Islam), so to come out and be honest within our traditionally liberal/libertarian niche is a bold move. We are poles apart politically and religiously, but I still really respect his honesty.

He was being himself, and being authentic. Two things that we seem to preach in the church of social media. Yet every time somebody comes out with a viewpoint that is different from the majority viewpoint, makes a well-intentioned misstep, or (Heaven forbid) disagrees with a customer, client or rival brand, the internet seems to EXPLODE with pious indignation.

But are we in fact getting what we want and what we deserve when brands and individuals open up on social platforms in this way (or choose to remain silent on causes)?

I'm going to be writing about authenticity, and what it really means in our industry over the next two weeks. The four specific fields I'm going to tackle are:

1/ Brands and charities

2/ Our social media expectations vs. reality (from both sides of the coin)

3/ Sportsmen and women on social media - role models

4/ On being real and being condescending

I'm going to call it the 'authenticity quadrilogy', because it needs a big, pretentious name.

It's going to start tomorrow, and I hope you can join me - subscribe by email or RSS me up to make sure you don't miss out.