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Why Authentic Works And Faux-thentic Doesn't

Most of us have heard this a hundred times by now: social media works best when real people are connecting and engaging real people.

Yes, we know that a huge benefit of social media for marketing in business is that you get a sense of who people are.

Yes, we know it’s about joining the conversation and being authentic.

Yes, we know that you can listen and respond in ways never before possible.

I believe Mitch Joel refers to it as the humanization of business and that seems to sum this idea up best. If you’ve been around any marketing conference, discussion, or book in the last few years you’ve heard some of these things. Perhaps you even believe it. I do.

But what about people who get it in the head but don’t in their heart? What about the people who see this as the way social media works but they don’t want to change?

The Options: Be All In Or Fake It
Their options are to avoid social media or to fake it and I think many businesses want to fake it. I can’t help but think that we’re beginning to see cases of faux-thenticity, people who understand that a personality and genuine connection works best but choose to create a false personality or disingenuous social strategy.

How Do You Know If You’re Faux-thentic?
Here are three areas to evaluate your own social media authenticity:

  1. Faux-thenticity is acting like you’re care but you don’t. Does your organization really care about helping the customer?
  2. Faux-thenticity is acting like you’re there to engage but you’re really there to sell. Is the point of every engagement about selling or do you do things to earn trust with no immediate or apparent way of knowing that it’s going to directly pay off?
  3. Faux-thenticity is outsourcing your social media efforts so you can feel good about doing social media. Do you have people who don’t know you, your company, or your customers serving on the front lines of your social media efforts?

The problem with faux-thenticity is that it’s not going to work. It might yield some short term gains but in the end something’s not going to feel quite right. Your customer will realize they’re talking to a figment of your imagination.

It’s not worth faking it. Though the immediate pain is changing, that won’t be anything compared to getting caught faking it…and if there’s anything we now know about social media is that the likelihood of getting caught is higher now than ever.

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Bill Seaver founded MicroExplosion Media in fall 2007 and has been blogging since June 2006. Bill has consulted numerous organizations to help them understand and apply social media into their marketing initiatives. He's led seminars, corporate training sessions, and numerous social media campaigns to include blog strategy and development, Google AdWords, podcasts, online video strategy, widget development, social media marketing campaigns, blogger networks, and social networking campaigns.