If you've landed here expecting a bullet list on how to make a fortune in social media, go ahead and click the back button on your browser now. If anything, this post is written to reinforce a very traditional idea that worked for generations before the first billboard ever blocked out a tree, let alone in social media.
Question: If you want a girl to like you (or a boy, for you sticklers), what is the best course of action
A) Lie your ass off and hope they don't care when they find out?
B) Be yourself?
We watch a lot of movies, so I'm going with B. And you can replace 'girl' with any number of other things. You want that new watch? Steal it? You want to fly to Europe? Stow away? You want to be successful in social media? Lie and be whatever you think your audience wants you to be in order for you to reach some unrealistic goal? Or be yourself?
One of the best bits of advice I have ever received is: 'Always tell the truth – there's less to remember.' As someone who didn't always follow this rule in life, I've found it to be as helpful today as when I first heard it 20 years ago. It's a helluva lot easier to be authentic than false. It just is.
As an advertising copywriter, I've been asked to write a lot of stuff. And despite a general view that advertising is manipulative and evil, I've never once lied in an appeal – ever. Sure, I get people to think about TRUE ideas differently, but I've never lied (though I've been asked to.) Also, I've sold a lot of stuff. Truth always wins.
Which brings us social media. Today I had a meeting with a client to talk about their social media strategy and was having a parallel discussion with a partner on how best to use Twitter (specifically.) After thinking about these things for a bit, I posted this tweet:
This may be the truest thing I've written in this space. After all, influence is the number one factor as to why people do *anything* (next to getting paid for it, of course.) After I posted this tweet, a bunch of people agreed with the idea (Thanks for the RT,) and, of course, some people questioned it. There's *no way* that something as simple as authenticity can be a core foundation for brands to move around in this space.
Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that there are people who think that authenticity is not a very good idea for brands – period. After all, there's a whole school of thought in traditional marketing that the point of any advertising is to be in front of as many 'eyeballs' as possible. Why? So that one day, subconsciously I guess, the minions act favorably. Brilliant!
Wow. Ok, assuming this isn't so brilliant, what's left for brands to do? How about making the best product possible and letting that stand on its own merit for people to decide for themselves? You know, like giving this 'word-of-mouth' advertising thing a shot. Especially since every single person in business recognizes 'word-of-mouth' as the best advertising available.
Ok, but how do you get people to notice? Obviously, as we all know, social media is a great place to develop an audience who may or may not help you spread the word about your stuff – but not because you ask them to, rather because you sell good stuff. So the trick is to sell good stuff, have people in place who don't lie (and who treat people with respect), and always tell the truth about – everything. No, we don't need to know that the COO is sleeping with the receptionist at the Boulder satellite. At some point common sense must prevail. Rather, just be authentic.
Perhaps the best advice about brand development (whether in social or not) comes courtesy of a dead English poet: "To thy own self be true." When you can do this, everything works out for the best. Always. Especially with the girl.