Not too long ago I posted about The Importance of Being Authentic Online. As someone who works in and spends a large part of my day on social media, my professional branding, and online persona is something that I think about constantly. I do not understand people that get online and pretend to be someone else. That sounds like a lot of trouble! Why bother? You would have to remember too much! You know what they say… always tell the truth and you won't have to remember what you lied about.
Now, this does not mean that you have to put all of your business on the Internet. Please don't. There is such a thing as sharing too much! But when you do share, however little or however much that is, be authentic.
Here are 5 simple tips for creating a genuine, authentic online presence.
Don't Cause Unnecessary Trouble
As a community forum leader on a once very popular Internet site, we had a couple of “trolls”. If you are not familiar with that term, here's the definition from Wikipedia.
In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into …
Now first… these people have WAY too much time on their hands. Secondly, why?? Use that energy for good, not evil. It is not necessary to argue about EVERYTHING. It is not necessary to complain about everything. But for some, this is their online life.
This should be a no-brainer, but it's not. I've been online in some form for more than 16 years. I have seen it all. In addition to the trolls that cause trouble, there were the other trolls that inserted themselves into our group and pretended to be like us. Why? I'm not quite sure. Boredom maybe? Instead of pretending to be something that you're not, seek out your own community. Find a group that actually shares your interests. Then you can be yourself and not have to worry about pretending and remembering what you lied about.
Own Your Brand
I first registered this domain, LittleTechGirl.com, back in 2002. That is 14 years ago!! No, I haven't exactly been blogging that long, but I had a site. Since then a lot has changed, but one thing hasn't… I am LittleTechGirl. I've told the story before about how I have had to claim my name from a couple of people. I must get on that trademark! But, besides being LittleTechGirl here, I am also me… Kris McDonald. And it's important that I convey that as well.
With employers, brands, PR reps and even potential dates doing online research on you, you want to make sure that you take control of your personal branding and own it. Start by buying your name! Register a .ME with Domain.ME and use that as your online profile. List your accomplishments, online resume, or just a short about page so that those seeking you out know who you are.
Owning a .ME domain is a unique way to own your brand. It provides a space to build your personal brand and create a great online persona that is all about you.
Share a Little Bit of Everything
Now above I just said that you don't have to share everything. However, you never know how something you may be going through might help someone else. Keep the super personal stuff to yourself. However, consider sharing your entrepreneurial struggles, common health concerns, or common parenting questions. Share as much as you are comfortable with. This shows that you are human too, not just a face on the screen. No one has a perfect life. And attempting to convey a perfect life on the Internet is certainly not authentic.
Don't Fake It
Back in 2014, there was a story about a Dutch woman who faked a 5-week trip to Southeast Asia. She took photos in her swimming pool, and around Amsterdam, then Photoshopped them to look like she was having the time of her life on her trip. Supposedly, her experiment was for a school project. But friends and family were not happy. It was one big lie.
If you feel that you need to go through Photoshopping pics, and inventing a story about where you really are, you may want to reconsider a lot in your life! Or just get off of social media.
Put Out Positive Energy
Of course, you are absolutely free to share whatever you like on social media. There are some people who excel sharing nothing but photos of cats, others post a different photo of their dog every day. Some post baby photos. All of that is great… and cute!
However, I've noticed some other people that post nothing but items that can be deemed as negative. If it's a controversial hot topic in the news, they post it. Some purposely post things that they know will get a rise out of their social media friends. Others post depressing quotes all day. Now, they *may* have built up a following of friends that expect these types of posts and participate. But, these people may not realize that some of us avoid their Facebook pages because frankly… they are depressing.
Social media is about being social. It's about participating in a community, even if it's just online. But if you are the one person in the group that is always angry, your friends may stop inviting you to the party so to speak. If you use your powers for good and put out a good energy, you make social media a better place.
With so much going on in the world today, a large part of it is captured and reported on social media. Think about your part in that. If someone that never met you took a look at your Facebook page or Twitter account, what would they learn about you? Would they get the right impression? Would they learn who you really are? Or would they only learn about your online persona?
Do you feel that you are genuine on social media?
Disclosure: This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”