How to be authentic on social media, and sustain your presence there?

How to be authentic on social media, and sustain your presence there?

“Not sure I can sustain a presence on social media, even if it’s good for business… feels exhausting to have to keep up an image of who I am. Or maybe I will run out of things to say… ” --a reader

Posted by George Kao, Authentic Business Coach on Friday, February 2, 2024

“I’m not sure I can sustain a presence on social media, even if it’s good for business… it feels exhausting to have to keep up an image of who I am. Or maybe I will run out of things to say… ” …a reader wrote to me.

I’m with you. If I had to pretend to be someone I’m not, it would exhaust me too.

Neither is it sustainable if I think about all the future posts I have to make…

This reminds me of the classic contrast between fixed vs growth mindsets. A fixed mindset prioritizes maintaining an image, whereas a growth mindset focuses on personal development through practice.

So every time I show up on social media, I practice expressing who I am today, and saying what I believe now. I practice letting go of any image to upkeep, and absolve myself of worrying about all the future posts I have to make.

Today is about all I can handle.

Think of it like an authentic friendship…

When you’re with a true friend, you feel like you can be yourself. Sometimes you’re funny. Sometimes you’re boring. Some days you feel attractive, and on other days, not so much…

A real friend accepts all of it, cares about you through thick and thin.

Similarly, if you are willing to show up authentically in your social media content, you’ll also develop an audience who likes you for just who you are.

With a friend, you don’t need to plan what to say, or what order to say it in. You simply share what’s on your mind today, and what you think would help you connect with them now.

Same thing with authentic social media. Do less planning. Be honest and helpful, in whatever ways you already know how to be.

It has been said simply by Gary Vaynerchuk:

“Document, Don’t Create.

When coming from the mindset of having “to create”, you might think your content has to be some work of art. It provokes anxiety.

Instead, simply “document” your current thoughts and feelings… without pretense. Sure, you might take a minute to reboot your energy before showing up, but don’t require or even expect the content to be polished, brilliant, or go viral.

Right now, as I’m writing this, I can do this one of two ways:

Perfection vs. Presence

Method 1 — To Create Perfection — to put pressure on myself that “this MUST be really good before I publish it, that it has to address exactly what my ideal audience wants, and it needs to be eloquently written.”

Method 2 — To Document the Present — to show up, as I am, with my current thoughts, with a heart of humble service, not expecting whether or not you will “like” it, but simply with the trust that it’s important to say what is true for me now, and that it might benefit someone.

Trying to create perfection is not sustainable, and yet that is what keeps many people from trying. Perfectionism is continuous self-punishment, repeating the inner voice of a strict authority figure from your past.

Time to let that go.

Give yourself today what you always deserve: unconditional love.

Start with a supportive group

If it’s too much for you to “document” publicly, then create a small, private Facebook group. Invite some supportive friends or colleagues (ask them first!) to witness and encourage your experimentations in documenting your journey.

Once you feel comfortable posting there — consistently — perhaps after a few weeks, expand that circle a bit.

With this gradual expansion, you might soon be willing to post publicly!

What should you “document”?

Your journey is truly unique. No one else has lived the life that you have. No one has had your exact thoughts or learnt life’s lessons in the same way that you have.

It’s important for you to share your unique journey. Simply document, rather than giving yourself the pressure to “create”.

If anything is slowing down your creation process, let it go for now. Until you get into a really consistent rhythm of posting, simply let go of how long your content is supposed to be… what the title should be… and other metrics-based requirements in your mind.

Just show up and share what’s true for you now, what you believe might be helpful to others, what is surprising to you, what you are observing about your field, what’s going on in your work that might provide insight for others, what your intuition is telling you now.

The key is to let go of creating “perfect” content.

It is simply enough to show up and share with us your journey.

Share with us your evolving insights

I hope you don’t worry about all the changes you’re going to go through in the rest of your life. It’s overwhelming to consider it, so we learn to cope with being present for just one day at a time.

We are given the divine gift of strength and support for each day’s challenges and changes.

Similarly, with social media content, let’s not worry about all the future posts we have to make. Simply show up today (or whichever days you commit to showing up) and share what’s real for you that day.

What’s energizing you now? What is important and needs to be said? What are you surprised isn’t being said enough out there? Share that with us now. I like to think of it as “public journaling”, reflecting in a way that may benefit others.

Showing up consistently — whether it’s daily or weekly or a few set times a month — is an empowering practice of expressing your energy signature. The more you do this, the more you find your authentic power and your true audience.

Originally written in March 2019, updated February 2024.