As the social media manager here at SCCE, part of my job is to keep up on trends in social media and marketing generally. As part of this, I read many articles about what is working in social media… and what’s not. This week, while reading one of these articles, I was struck by a tip from the author. That tip? Be a person. Let your customers know that real people with real emotions are behind the brands they’re buying. It seems that with the influx of technology and personal gadgets that people are craving personal connections. My call to you is to take it one step further and don’t just settle for being real, instead strive to be authentic.
Being authentic isn’t easy, we all have facades. We’ve grown accustomed to fitting the mold, being a “good” parent, a “good” employee, or even a “good” person. Instead, I’m advocating that we be “authentic” parents, “authentic” employees, and “authentic” people. When we push to be anything but who we really are, we end up cheating ourselves, and not fooling anyone.
Think of the people who influence you most. It could be someone you know personally, or a world leader you’ll never meet. These people have one thing in common: they’re authentic. They’re charismatic, but that’s not what made people listen. We connect with them because who they are and what they do doesn’t feel forced or hypocritical.
Nelson Mandela, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs… with each of these people, we get the overwhelming sense that who they are in public is very much the same as who they are behind closed doors. Overwhelmingly, these influencers are unapologetic about themselves and their actions. Even if we don’t “like” them, we can sense that there’s no façade. Companies and business should operate in the same way.
Take Steve Jobs for example, widely described as equal parts brilliant and arrogant, and temperamental and demanding, he never tried to hide these qualities, and certainly never apologized for them. His refusal to conform with the typical CEO dress code (instead always appearing in jeans and a turtleneck) became representative of what Apple stood for. He became the brand, just by being his authentic self.
Build a name for yourself and your organization through authenticity. Encourage your workforce to actually engage, both with each other and with the public. Promote speaking up and reaching out. And last but not least, be an example. Lead with your authentic self and others will follow.