Or maybe not.
For those who could use a bit of inspiration for the new year, here’s some encouragement. Just be yourself.
The new Les Misérables movie’s characters played by Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman teach us how to do just that, and still be likable. More on that soon.
The internet, like post-French Revolution Paris, has a dark underside. And within its underbelly lies the cheaters, stealers, and liars. Their deception will eventually cause people to distrust and abandon them.
You might’ve discovered the truth of Sir Walter Scott’s words, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” the hard way. Sticking to the truth, however, requires little effort.
There’s a core sense of ethics which we all have and we deny them to the peril of our self-preservation. Getting caught lying might seem like the worst thing that can happen, but what about having to endure the loss of integrity and self-respect?
Assuming you’re not willing to compromise yourself, your business, or your customers’ faith in you, you’re safe to forfeit a mask and show your authentic self. Keeping an authentic connection with your audience is essential to your success.
Being “you,” however, poses one risk as a marketer.
The internet allows us to communicate in a rich variety of ways; we can blog, tweet, and share on Facebook, Google+, and a host of other social media. These communication outlets are happening in real time, and the temptation and pressure increases to break the cardinal rule:
Focus on the needs of your audience.
Being authentic works only when your online persona genuinely puts the needs of others first. Your mom probably told you this when you were growing up.
It’s never too late to listen to your mother.
It’s not just what you say, but how you say it, another thing your mother probably told you. Sharing your own story on social media becomes the loophole through which many a marketer might slip and be tempted to forget whose story is most important. Social media can make egocentric personalities out of the most humble of us.
Yes, even you.
If you’ve seen Les Misérables, then you can guess which character is not only authentic, but also manages to stay true to the cardinal rule. Jackman’s Jean Valjean learns the secret to success is putting other’s needs first, whereas Crowe’s Javert is so threatened by this belated revelation that he is unable to live with it.
Inspector Javert is absolutely transparent, while ex-convict Jean Valjean is forced into living a facade to survive. It is both men’s plight to be authentic. In the end, only one man’s authenticity is likable.
You get to choose. Be real and still be likable, however challenging it can be, or find another talent, one where you’re able to tell your own story all day long.
As Seth Godin said, “the best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.”
Flickr photo credit Shannon Kringden