So here’s the thing I always say about social media; it’s bullshit. OK, not all of it, but a very large majority of it is. Why? Because most of it isn’t real. For the sake of this post, I’m going to be mostly referring to Instagram, but it can apply to other platforms as well. For all intents and purposes, social media is a curated group of squares featuring the beautiful highlights that you want to share with your audience. And please, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this. If you truly love creating beautiful content, good on ya. But with so many accounts and so many people to follow these days, it can be really hard not to succumb to trends or “influences.” Whether you use social media for personal purposes or for business, staying authentic is the healthiest route you can take. But if you’re really wanting to flip the script and increase your authenticity without losing your audience, read on.
Ask yourself, “do I care?”
There’s a quote that I’ve shared on my own feed before that said “I’m still learning to love the parts of myself that no one claps for,” and it was a punch in the gut. I even had this conversation with my girlfriends at brunch the other day. How different would our lives be if we weren’t making decisions based on what content we were going to post? If you were the only person who would ever see your account, would you still post what you do? Take a second and scan through your most recent posts. Did you post those for you, or for people that you thought would like it? Chasing after the approval of others is like chasing a carrot on a stick. You’ll never fully obtain it, and you’ll feel defeated when you don’t. Why inflict that on yourself? Before you post, as yourself, “Do I care about this? If no one else but me were to see it, would I still want it out there in the universe?”
Show your cute face
The only way to truly be authentic is to showcase the real you. Don’t hide behind a flashy filter on every IG story you share. Being authentic on social media means being confident in yourself and not worrying about how others will perceive you. And I know this can be daunting for some, because the internet can be a rough place. People love to hide behind troll accounts and post hurtful or combative remarks. But think of it this way: The reason these people hide behind their privacy settings is because they know they’re being assholes and are too chicken to handle any sort of confrontation or criticism themselves. These types of people have no business making any sort of impact on your self-confidence. Once you learn how to let it roll off like water off a duck’s back, you’ll feel so much lighter and more confident.
Be a safe space
There are a lot of accounts out there that portray this beautifully curated picturesque life. And the majority of the people who follow them enjoy the aesthetically pleasing content, it’s true. But there’s always a seed of resentment and jealousy. When your home looks like a toddler tornado ripped through it and you’re scrolling through a feed of white couches and angelic children, it can make you feel like you’re failing, or that they’re better than you are. Again, this is the part of social media that is bullshit. No one has a perfect life, and pretending like you do for the sake of the feed might get you likes, but it won’t make anyone feel connected with you. Open up about your real life and your struggles. It gives your audience a feeling of comfort and allows you to become a safe space for them. You can still maintain a beautiful account while keeping it real and authentic. This is where IG stories are your best friend. Stories are the perfect place to connect with your audience and share the real “behind the scenes” where you can humanize your brand and empathize with your followers.
Live and breathe your values
We all have a set of personal core values. If you participated in our Creativity series at the end of last year, you were able to map yours out and see what truly mattered to you (if you haven’t done that yet, you can sign up here for the worksheets!). When you say what you mean and mean what you say, your values become transparent. How can you be truly authentic with your audience if they have no idea what you stand for? Your core values are your inner North Star and should be apparent in everything you post and share. Sure, you might lose a few people if your values don’t align with theirs, but guess what? That’s fine! Quality over quantity is how you want to cultivate your audience. People who come just for the pretty pictures aren’t invested and have a shorter lifespan as part of your engagement.
Post what makes you happy, humanize your brand, stay real, always keep your values at the forefront and you’ll be golden.
main + featured image via our home tour with Katherine Plumb.