When I was a little kid, I was a complete tattle tale goody goody. I admit it. When kids would try to pull a prank on a teacher, I’d take the teacher aside after class and say, “I just wanted to let you know that so and so is planning on putting jello on your chair. Just thought you should know.” I never did this because I was trying to kiss up to anybody, nor did I have it out for any of the nitwits who thought it was fun to be mean. I just felt that making a teacher sit in a pile of jello was wrong, and I saw a way to prevent the wrong from happening.
I doubt the other kids saw my big mouth in a similarly pragmatic way.
This phase of my life is on my mind because of quandary I have in my Social Media world. No, I’m not tattling on people, but I sometimes wonder if my intentions are misunderstood. I wonder sometimes if people think I mention certain people or promote certain people just to be a kiss-up. I know I don’t, but is that enough?
The tricky thing about authenticity
You hear all of the time that the best approach to Social Media, be it a Blog or Facebook or Twitter, is to be yourself. Be human. Be authentic. In real life, I am generally a nice person (unless you keep driving across a pedestrian cross-walk when I’m trying to walk there) and I also am generally sociable. For me to be authentic and myself in the world of Social Media, this means that I chip into conversations regardless of who might be participating (if I think I have something to contribute). I’ll retweet you whether you have 500,000 followers or 50. I’ll comment on your blog whether you’re a New York Times best seller or whether you just started writing consistently.
Last week, Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media posted a blog about “the 8 new kinds of links.” Basically, she was talking about different ways people try to grab attention or self-promote on Twitter. I started to wonder if that’s how people perceive of me. Do I reply to or mention Chris Brogan or MarketingProfs or other thought leaders at various times? Yeah. Do I retweet posts from Denise Wakeman and Seth Godin? Uh, yeah. Do I sometimes say nice things to or about Jason Baer and Mari Smith? Guilty as charged. This is not all I do. I talk to everyone equally. I try to promote equally. But still, I wonder if my being authentic actually makes me look like an attention grabber. Does this last paragraph seem like an attention-grabbing list or just a set of examples?
So maybe being authentic is…bad?
I’m not really sure what my alternative is. I suppose that in the end, if people perceive me as being the opposite of authentic, there’s not much I can do about it. I suppose I could consciously opt not to reply to or mention certain people. I suppose I could also refrain from offering what are hopefully helpful tips when someone asks a question. And I could probably just lurk during chats. These don’t really seem like reasonable solutions, however.
Do you have genuine facets of your personality that you think others in the world of Social Media might translate as game playing? How do you deal with that potential perspective problem? Do you just keep plugging away? Do you qualify all of your statements with an explanation?
I’m open to advice and suggestions…from anyone!