Here we are, in the digital age.
Our lives are so staggeringly different to those we lived just mere decades ago; vast information at our fingertips, incredible technologies in our hands, homes, workplaces, and everywhere in between. Heck, even our refrigerators are internet-enabled!
Boundaries of geography and language are overcome in the click of a button. Getting lost on a road trip is all but a thing of the past. We can even explore things which no longer exist (like a virtual tour of an ancient civilisation), as well as things which are yet-to-be (like a virtual prototype of your dream house).
Amidst all of these modern technologies, social media undoubtedly reigns amongst the most prolific. It represents a stark difference in the way we engage socially, economically, and even politically, compared to previous eras and generations.
Most of us spend hours every day scrolling through and contributing to various social media feeds, for leisure and business alike; and while there’s nothing inherently bad in doing so, there’s a natural tendency - perhaps even a social pressure - for us to present only the most perfect, shining example of ourselves online.
We’ve all done it to some extent; from something as simple and innocuous as holding back our real opinions or struggles to spending hours staging the perfect scene of productivity (or minimalism, delicious food, or whatever it may be) and choosing that one perfect photo from the several dozen we actually took.
Look at the Instagram feed for your average designer or freelancer. The work space could be straight from a minimalist interior design catalogue with its shiny new Macbook, single fountain pen, and fake plant to round off the look.
Talk about your virtual reality, right?
More realistically we’d see a stack of upturned coffee mugs, a half eaten yoghurt, art supplies strewn everywhere, and a cat sleeping on the blanket kept close for those 3am deadlines.
Thing is, in real life, plenty of us tend to portray different sides of ourselves in various circumstances. Our personalities, clothing, and willingness-to-share often changes depending on whether we’re in the company of close friends, a freelance client, or an interview panel; so it’s no surprise that our online lives have a similar variance. It’s just that the differences are far more pronounced thanks to the nature of the technology involved.
So if we tend to do this ‘offline’ as well, why change our habits in how we interact on social media?
Whether it’s for your personal profile, the online presence of your small business, or freelance career, a sure way to build an organic community of followers, fans, and supporters is to be authentic.
Sure, most people love drama and sensationalism, but most people can also smell bullsh*t a mile away and gravitate towards brands and personalities with which they relate and respect; to people with whom they feel able to share some kind of connection.
Putting yourself (your real self) out there on social media certainly isn’t easy for everybody, and for some it may be too much to consider, but taking that chance, even for a single post, could set you and your personal brand on a new path to making more meaningful connections and growing an online community of genuine followers.
Words by Kiel Adam