Today I want to tackle a big topic that is close to my heart that has a lot of buzzwords surrounding it. I want to talk honesty. Integrity. Specifically I want to broach this question: of how authentic and transparent should you be online?
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 030
This, ultimately, is your choice. Completely. But I do think it needs to be a conscious choice and sometimes are not so conscious about it.
Let’s break this down and talk about some of the buzz words you may hear related to honesty and integrity.
Transparent. This is allowing people to see behind the curtain. It’s being honest in the amount that you let people see.
Authentic. This is being true to yourself. It’s being honest in that you stay true to yourself.
Online, we all create a persona. We are constructing and curating the version of ourselves that people see online. As honest as you are, you are not your real self online.
Let me repeat this:
You are not your real self online.
You cannot possibly share every facet of yourself online, even if you wanted to. It would be like trying to fully represent a 3D object on paper, in a 2D format. It doesn’t fit.
THIS IS NOT INAUTHENTIC. This is simply making choices about what to share publicly. It is making the choice of what exactly you will be transparent about and what things you will hold back.
It fails when people construct a persona that is so far from who they actually are and then people see behind the curtain and the whole thing crashes down. The great example is Tiger Woods, who sold himself as a family man. When all his issues came out publicly, he looked like a liar. If he started out as the bad boy of golf, he could have found sponsors and been successful as that. Selling himself as a family man and then being revealed as something else took away trust.
Here is one thing you MUST be transparent about: legal disclosure. If you are an affiliate for something, you HAVE to share this. The FTC says so. (Just listen to this great podcast from Taylor Bradford on the Boss Girl Creative for more on disclosure.) Not disclosing compensation for affiliate products and programs is illegal and also can damage your integrity with your readers. This is one part of transparency where you don’t have a choice.
Integrity is a huge currency. It may be the most important currency you have with your audience.
You get to choose what you share and how much you share and when and where you share it. You can be transparent and not share every single thing. You can hold things back and still be authentic. You can hold things back and still be transparent.
You need to be honest.
Realize that being honest doesn’t mean you tell EVERY SINGLE truth. It does, however, mean that you do not share untruths. You don’t lie.
I want to leave you with a challenge: Have you intentionally thought about your persona?
Have you sat down and thought about what things you will and won’t share online?
Have you thought about your core values that you want to be clearly communicated, both online and in real life?
If not, take some time to really hash this out so that you can set some boundaries for yourself and be conscious with what persona of yourself you are presenting online.