You’ve seen ‘those’ posts on social media haven’t you?
The lifestyle gurus, the high-end coaches, the networking marketing marvels who share photographs of their amazing lifestyle, their 5 star holidays, their top of the range cars and their premium designer goodies.
I’d like to ask “Is it real?”
In fact, I’d go so far as to call BS on some of those Instaperfect posts – we all know life’s not like that. We all wake up bare-faced with little creases on our skin where we’ve slept funny and dark circles under our eyes. We all have periods of time our life when we struggle with kids, money, family or friends and our life definitely doesn’t come with instagram filters.
If ‘these’ posts are 100% real and there are no creases, circles or struggles, then hands up, you got me!
Look, we’re all guilty of sharing only the best stuff from our lives – no one wants to see my morning face, trust me. BUT I also make a point of sharing ‘real life’ stuff on social media too. I don’t want people to think being an entrepreneur is easy because DAMN it sure isn’t!
So, when you see a social media account and you’re feeling like things are a little suss, ask yourself this – “Are they all mouth and no trousers?”
What does all mouth and no trousers even mean?!
According to a quick Google search ‘..tend to talk boastfully without any intention of acting on one’s words’. So in terms of business, we could say that this is ‘showing off’ a lavish lifestyle which might not be real, or is a bit of a front to achieve a desire without having to put in the work.
Please note, I am ALL FOR people sharing their success. When you work for yourself you’re often left with no choice but to blow your own trumpet! We should absolutely celebrate success (we totally don’t do enough of this) but let’s not beat around the bush; there are people who seem a bit ‘fake’.
Let’s talk about ‘authority figures’ in business. There are two types of authority figures.
Shooting Stars: People who may hit it big for a while before their fame and fortune falters. You can probably think of someone that you know who may have been a big deal in their industry for a short time but they lost favour after a while.
Steady Solars: The other type of authority figure is someone who builds their authority over time and retains it. They are respected in their industry for decades.
There are many things that separate a shooting star from a steady and solid authority. Two of these differences are authenticity and transparency. The two words have been marketing buzzwords for the past year or two but what do they actually mean?
The Meaning of Authenticity and Transparency
In the case of establishing yourself as an authority figure in your niche, authenticity and transparency are virtues.
Authenticity: This means that you are 100 percent yourself. You don’t fake your personality or create a persona. You’re not someone different when you’re at work than you are when you’re home or in your personal life. This is important for many reasons. One reason is that it’s much easier to connect with someone if they’re being “real.” Fake people often seem awkward or uncomfortable and people generally pick up on that.
Additionally, authenticity is easier to maintain. If you create a persona you may not be able to maintain it for decades. Eventually you’re going to get tired of it or you’ll get found out. People will learn that you’re not who you make yourself out to be. When that happens, your credibility and authority will plummet.
Transparency: Transparency means that you are honest about who you are and what you know. Transparent authority figures are okay with telling people when they don’t know the answer. They don’t need to know everything. However many industry authorities are passionate about their industry and will quickly dig up knowledge when they don’t know the answer.
Research has shown that people are buying more and more from brands and people they can relate to, so it’s really important that you find a way to share ‘brand you’ on social media.
The question is how do you stay true to yourself when you’re building your business? Here are some tips;
Let your followers know you are there. Send them regular emails, post on social media and engage with them as much as possible. Keep focused on running your business and don’t have long periods where you just disappear from the world wide web! Stay true to yourself and be honest.
Walk the walk
Know the saying “do as I say not as I do”? Well, don’t follow it! You have to have done everything that you are asking others to do yourself. Don’t tell people to set goals when you don’t even have any. Don’t ask someone to use your best-selling product when you don’t even use it yourself. SHOW people how you walk the walk.
Love your customers & tribe (and your customers & tribe will love you)
Whether you have a tribe, a following or a group of loyal customers, tell them how much you appreciate them. Make them feel special. Record thank you videos and messages for them so they can see the real you. Ask them questions and engage with them. SHARE gifts, freebies and information willingly.
Show that you know
Tell your business story and show people how you know what you know, how you have helped others and how you can help them. Reviews, testimonials, awards and guest blogs are all ways to show your followers that you are credible. This stuff is all great for your personal branding too.
Don’t be a show off pants
It is completely OK for you to share your wins and achievements online but don’t overdo these kind of posts. Your followers will drop like flies if you persistently share posts/photographs of your material and financial achievements.
Know your limits
I’m talking boundaries here. When you’re transparent online it’s especially important to have boundaries in place to protect yourself. You are letting people see the real you and this occasionally means people start to take advantage (this is unusual but it does happen). I love this post on Focus 5 Design which explains how you can set boundaries in your business www.focus5design.com/business/setting-boundaries-small-business-success
You are running a professional business, so make sure your cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Ensure your customers know that if they are on your mailing list, their data is safe; if they use your website, you have a proper cookie notice and privacy statement. Terms and Conditions are also a must.
Don’t fake it
Build your credibility by being real. Tell your story, share what you have learnt but don’t pretend to know all the answers. If someone asks you something about your product or service and you aren’t entirely confident about your answer, just admit it. People would much rather you were honest than try and fluff your way through. Find the answer they need and come back to them.
Being authentic is great but there is a stage when it all gets a bit Too Much Information. Your customers really do not need to know that you have an ongoing dispute with your neighbours or that your great auntie has had a knee replacement operation. Share snippets of your personal life by all means (in fact please do; it’s great if people can relate to your struggles and triumphs) but think about what would be interesting to your customers and what is tittle tattle/gossip. Remember also that this applies from the security angle too; be careful of what personal information you put out there.
So there you go, my tips on finding your trousers and losing your mouth (well some of it).