The stress of authenticity and other reasons social media is exhausting

social media is exhausting

By Brooke Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I teach a class at Baruch College in NYC on consumer behavior.

We talk a lot about personalization, customization and selling yourself (as a human behind the logo) to potential buyers.

I truly believe in being authentic and transparent. But how far does it have to go?

Transparency & Authenticity Are Not The Same

First, a quick lesson.

Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I feel like many marketers use these terms interchangeably when they’re not.

Transparency is more about being true to others; offering disclosures as a way to verify that you’re being transparent.

Authenticity relates to being your true, authentic self; it means connecting with others emotionally and showing empathy.

While I think both are important in business — and transparency seems to be all the rage — I struggle with authenticity at times.

I, Brooke, am an extension of B Squared Media. So when I’m representing myself and my company online I’m constantly walking a tightrope of what’s expected, what’s appropriate, and what I’m really feeling or wanting to say.

Here are my dirty little secrets when it comes to selling myself …

Does Being Authentic Mean “Selling Yourself” ALL The Time?

Admission #1: Being authentic is exhausting

I have bad days. Lately, with an extremely overpacked schedule, I’m often moody and irritated.

Am I authentic with this when asked to “pick my brain” or to guest post on a marketing topic? No.

Can I get exasperated when a client asks for the same information for the 26th time? Absolutely not.

I’m not allowed to say how busy I am, as we’ve labeled being busy as being an “overstated excuse.

So if I were to tell the truth and say that my 75-hour weeks are keeping me from answering your email, tweet or what have you, I’m a liar.

And it would certainly not help me to be authentic when asking people to READ thoroughly before responding.

Instead of being authentic, I must answer every mention and keep my overworked and overtired complaints to myself.

I have to resend the same information for the 25th time to ensure I’m constantly delivering top-notch service.

I’m sure EVERYONE reading this deals with this.

AND? What do you do?

Suck it up, slap a smile on and deal with it?

Or authentically tell someone that you’re too important/busy/tired to deal with their request?

Admission #2: Being PC is nearly too difficult to maintain

As a rule, I try to stay away from politics, religion and other touchy subjects.

Only “touchy subjects” have infiltrated nearly every topic these days.

Recently Jay Baer made a seemingly innocent statement about FitBit and felt the brunt from at least one person … check out Amanda’s responses (highlighted):

social media is exhausting

Jay-Baer-FBpost2

From my point of view, Jay did not call anyone “fat” but there are many people who take “skinny” and use “fat” in the thread.

And Amanda, clearly being her true, authentic self (moodiness be damned) is quick to call Jay out on his non-PC by calling in “assaholic” (which I find to be non-PC).

I think the debate is actually interesting, but it all stemmed from “negative” comments and behavior.

Jay is certainly someone I consider authentic, but my guess is he was left feeling like, “what did I say?!”

So, back to my point, can we TRULY be authentic without having to wage war with everyone who becomes offended by our authenticity?

Or must we carefully select and filter everything we put online? And if we’re doing that, how are we really saying true to ourselves?

Admission #3: Social media is exhausting and I’m pooped

Admittedly, I’m a perfectionist. This can be good for business, but also very, very bad.

Online, there is a colossal amount of pressure to be perfectly perfect.

This ties into #1 and #2, but having to be “on” 24/7 is quite draining.

Being away from responding on Twitter for the two weeks we were on our honeymoon felt terrible. And nothing should feel terrible in Bora Bora!

Where is the line? What I mean is, where do you let selling yourself and perfectionism go and true authenticity take over?

“I’m in Bora Bora for Pete’s sake! STOP EMAILING/TEXTING/TWEETING ME!” (What I wanted to say, but didn’t).

With social media being an “always on” medium, how far to people — and companies– have to take it?

Are we moving to a 24/7 operation? Is that possible? And how is that scalable?

I can’t be the only one contemplating this stuff, right?

What Does Your Online Audience Really Want?

Do people expect us to be THAT honest and authentic when selling ourselves?

We say we want the truth and nothing but the truth, but then we get awfully offended when we hear it.

How far do you go with authenticity and selling yourself? I’d love to know what others think or are struggling with when it comes to this controversial subject!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke B. Sellas is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and  a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.

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