This is one of the biggest concerns I hear about using social media for building an authentic business:
“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.”
I get it.
If I were pretending to be someone I’m not, it is not sustainable.
If I were thinking of all the future posts I have to make, it’s not sustainable either.
But I’m not doing either of those things.
What I’m doing is being authentically on social media who I am today, saying what I know today, not worried about an image to upkeep, not worried about all the future posts I have to make. Just today.
Authentic Social Media is like an Authentic Friendship
I’ve written before about metaphors of marketing, and that my favorite is to think of good marketing like building a good friendship.
An authentic friendship is where you feel like you can be fully yourself. Sometimes you’re funny. Sometimes you’re boring. Some days you’re pretty/handsome, and some days you feel ugly. A real friend accepts all of it, cares about you through thick and thin.
Similarly, when you are willing to create and distribute authentic content on social media, you’ll also develop an audience who likes you for just who you are.
Also, an authentic friendship is where you don’t feel like you have to always plan what to say, what order to say it in. You simply share what’s on your mind today, and what you think your friend would benefit from today.
Same thing with authentic social media: do less planning, and more being honest and helpful in whatever ways you already know how to be.
The simplest way this has been said is by Gary Vaynurchuk. He popularized this idea:
Document, Don’t Create.
“To create” might be what’s intimidating some of you. You think it’s got to be some work of art. Or a brilliantly-written blog post. Or a social media post that is supposed to go viral.
Instead, “to document” means to show up as who you are, right now, without pretense. Sure, you might take a minute to reboot your energy before showing up, but you don’t require the content to be polished, to be brilliant, to be viral.
Right now, as I’m writing this article, I could do it in one of two ways:
Perfection vs. Presence
“To Create Perfection” -- Give myself a lot of pressure to say “this MUST be really good before I publish it… it has to exactly address what my ideal audience wants, and it needs to be eloquently written.”
“To Document the Present” -- Just show up, as I am, with my current thoughts, with a heart of humble service, not expecting whether you will “like” it or not, but simply with a faith that it’s important to say what is true for me now, believing that it will touch or benefit someone eventually.
Trying to create perfection is not sustainable, and yet that is what keeps many of you from trying… or trying again. Perfectionism is continuous self-punishment, repeating the inner voice of a strict authority figure from your past.
It’s time to let that go. Re-parent yourself with gentleness and encouragement today, and everyday. Give yourself what you always, always deserve: Unconditional Love.
Start with a supportive group
If it’s too much for you to “document” publicly, then start a secret Facebook group. Invite a few supportive friends or colleagues (ask them first) to witness and encourage your experimentations in documenting your journey.
Get used to doing this, then expand that circle until you eventually are willing to document publicly.
What to document?
Your journey is truly unique. No one else has lived the life that you have. No one has had the exact thoughts, or learnt lessons in the same way that you have.
It’s important for you to share your unique journey. Simply document, rather than giving yourself that pressure to “create”.
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 life that might provide insight for others, what your intuition is telling you now.
Or answer any questions that others have asked you, and if none, then ask your friends to come up with some questions to ask you about your work.
The key is to never try creating “perfect” content. Your journey, by itself, is enough. Perfection is in the bigger picture. The whole process you are going through, of personal growth, is itself perfect beyond what you can imagine.
Simply show up and share with us.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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