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Authentic You vs Crazy Everybody

grayscale photo of woman doing silent hand sign

More outrage leads to more attention

Many marketers, myself included to some degree, have preached the importance of being authentic in your marketing. I was recently asked about this and realized that “your authentic self” has different meanings to different people.

There is a difference in “being real” and “being yourself.”

For example, we are “being ourself” with friends when we throw a fit or show our flaws with family. They are our friends and family – to some extent, they signed up for it. They will remain our friends and family even after our tantrum.

However, when we are professionals, our audience did not sign up follow us “being ourselves”, they signed up for the “authentic us.” The part of us who shows up consistently, who brings our best, who vets our advice and filters our feelings. We maintain a balance. We can be authentic without baring our baggage.

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The original draw of Twitter (and social media, really), was that we could “be ourselves” to the 50-or-so friends that agreed to follow us. They were our friends, so they saw, digitally, what we were in real life.

But then money made its way into the mix and the “social” part was violated for the benefit of the media part. The share button added fuel to a message that was never meant to be shared. No longer was “ourself” contained within our circle, but now on public display.

Further, media companies tweaked the algorithms to reward the more outlandish “ourselves” to get more attention. We know that more attention equates to more time on screen. The result is more crazy – because the crazier the message, the more it is now shared – being presented to us. The more “crazy” we saw, the more normal it became. The more “crazy” looks normal, the more “normal” looks boring. And we’re normal.

The Kardashians are not famous for being the most authentic family in America, they’re famous for being outlandish. You are not that different from them, but their edited life appears that way. The profile you’re comparing yourself to on social media is not that person being themselves, it is a reflection of their crazy – the outlier, the filtered, the cropped and edited. The popular-because-its-different.

In your marketing, be authentic. It is far less juicy than being crazy, but the only way to build a following of truly passionate fans who will show up, day in and day out, to support you and build a sustainable business.

Unless you’re the Kardashians.

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