Have a scroll around social media and look at profiles and feeds. You’ll find a lot of posing, performing, and caricature creation. Not just people using the platforms for fun, but entrepreneurs, too. People focused on putting out a certain social media image of ultra-likable or super attractive feeds, faces, and food. There’s a lot of staging going on.
Now, of course, this isn’t all of social media. There are some people doing amazing work and showcasing that work on these platforms.
But it’s rare.
There’s currently a ubiquitous song and dance of:
“Look at me”
“I’m a bright shiny object for you to pay attention to. If you follow me, you too can have this 6-figure, cherry-picked life” or look or whatever dream seems most ideal for this moment.
It’s one thing to put a good foot forward, it’s another to spend more time staging your image for social media, than honing your craft, building relationships with your audience, and providing real value.
And because you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve noticed all of this and don’t like it. No matter how many ‘influencers’ and gurus and 6- and 7 figure peddlers are ‘crushing it’ by doing this song and dance, it just doesn’t feel good to you.
The idea of spending hours refining your own peppermint-cupcake Instagram feed and staging your irresistibly likable ‘personal brand’ makes you nauseous. Or worse, makes you think you need to give up online marketing altogether. Some people can do this song and dance and not bat an eye-lid.
And then there are others. People like you who can.not. will. not.
But what about the abundant cliches that harken you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable?
Well, here’s the thing…
Sticking your hand in white-hot-fire is also uncomfortable. And unnecessary. We don’t need to do everything that’s outside of our comfort zone.
And you don’t need to do social media this way.
Actually, you shouldn’t.
This Caricature/Persona Creation Is Superficial and Ineffective for Most Entrepreneurs
All our lives we’ve been taught that people are visual by nature, so you’d think it’s the way to go, right?
Yes, we are visual. And people tend to click on pretty pictures. People will even follow aesthetically pleasing brands (stuff that looks good), but does that mean they’ll buy from them?
The conscious consumer is on the rise.
It is no longer business as usual. Even large organizations have noticed that it’s not enough to just have a pretty brand, or to be ultra-likable. People want more, different.
As author Anna Lappe put it: “Every time we spend money, we’re casting a vote for the kind of world we want”.
People are choosing to engage with businesses – large and small – that are of substance, that have a purpose, and that serve from a place of meaning.
Focus more on sharing your message, than on sharing your staged self.
And that’s not the only reason to resist this common social media marketing approach. Another reason is that it’s exhausting.
Don’t drain all your energy on the social media hamster wheel
When you’re creating a caricature of yourself, you always have to be ‘on’, performing. And that’s draining and demotivating.
For many of us, it feels fake.
So, does all of this mean you ditch social media entirely?
Not quite yet. You can. If you choose. There are people who build and sustain business without social media. The talented writer, Alexandra Franzen even created an entire course around this concept.
But if you’re not ready to ditch social media completely, here’s a more authentic approach that works.
A More Authentic Approach to Social Media
Focus on your body of work, the substance behind what you do.
On social media, focus on sharing your core message that supports your body of work. Communicate this clearly. Repeatedly. In front of the people who are the best fit for what you offer.
As Tad Hargrave so eloquently puts it:
Market your message, not yourself.
Are your social media updates mostly focused on you and your visual branding and staged performance of the ‘super likable’ you?
Or are you consistently sharing your core message through high-value content?
A Surprising Bonus to This Approach
By assuming this approach, it takes a lot of pressure off you. When people turn you down, they’re rejecting your message, not you personally. What stops a lot of entrepreneurs from putting themselves out there repeatedly is a dreaded fear of personal rejection.
So, if you choose to use social media, do it your way. Do it in a way that feels more authentic. Use it to make real connection with your audience. Share more messages of value that are of substance, not superficiality.
Don’t focus on a huge ‘following’ focus on huge engagement and providing value.
Get clear on your message and share it. Repeatedly. Engage with people on the platforms you choose to use. not just a small ‘clique’ of other popular people.
I often see people on social media who’ll only engage with others who have large numbers. Every exchange is transactional, i.e. what’s in it for me?
Does that feel or sound authentic to you?
It sure doesn’t to me.
If they’re a true celebrity with millions of followers and no time to spare, that’s one thing.
But the average entrepreneur online is not a celebrity and in fact can use their platform to shift the norm of ‘following’ to engaging. Especially if they don’t yet have a large audience.
Make the time to engage with people authentically, regardless of their ‘list size’ or ‘social media following’ or any other vanity metric.
As you’re building your own community, keep the principles of engagement, providing value, and making connections top of mind.
So, how will you approach your social media this coming week?
Drop a link to your social media in the comments. If I’m on that platform, I’ll see you over there. Let’s engage!