Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Did you ever take the time to step back and wonder about the various personas you meet online? They could be long-lost friends, bloggers that you admire, or people in your Facebook network whom you may have never met before. But what do you really know about them?

How many of these folks are truly themselves when they're online? I mean, how many are perhaps bolder in their assertions or less cautious with the language they use because of the less personal nature of the medium?

We spend a lot of time talking about authenticity as one of the tenets of social media - how businesses, brands and the people behind them need to be seen as real. There's no doubt that the masses will sniff out a fraud. But how do we guarantee them authenticity?

While you ponder that, take a look at Brad Paisley's take on it:

As recently as this week, someone in my LinkedIn network posed the following question: What disciplines should marketers be training within to ensure authenticity? My first thought, was, "You've got to be kidding, right? You want to teach authenticity?"

It reminded me of the old George Burns quote:
"Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made."
That one-liner often sums up all that is seen as wrong with and disliked about advertising, marketing and public relations - mouthing the words without actually believing what you're saying. Can you blame the public for distrusting advertisers or for thinking of public relations professionals as "spin doctors"?

Many of the other respondents to the LinkedIn question also noted that authenticity is more of a state of being rather than a skill - it's something that has to be imbued throughout one's life rather than taught as a course. Authenticity represents who we are, not what we do. And when we use marketing speak to address our audience, are we being truly authentic, or simply following a corporate protocol out of some antiquated tradition?

I say it's time to step out of those corporate roles and leave behind those traditional templates and speak to our customers as if we're real people talking to other real people. As David Ogilvy once famously said,
"The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife."
How do you learn how to be authentic with your wife? You don't learn it; you simply be yourself - that's why she picked you, right?

Ultimately, it's worth asking how do your customers or your community view you? I hope you're prepared for the answer, because we live in an age where they'll tell you and expect to be heard.

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