Posted in Branding, Business Building | Tags : authenticity, brand, branding, business image, carol parker walsh, Evolve Image Consulting, Image Consulting, image management, personal branding, transparency
The short answer is YES! The longer answer is that it depends on your brand.
We’ve talked before about storytelling and authenticity, and how being your true self is your most powerful branding tactic. But just how open and honest should you be when it comes to sharing your story?
Pat Flynn and Jon Lee Dumas are notorious for their transparency, even going so far as to post monthly income statements. You might argue that when you’re making the kind of bank they do (6+ figures each month) it’s easy to share—perhaps even inspirational to your audience. But it might also be off-putting to some, since talking about money is often seen as vulgar. In this case, though, it works to attract the exact audience they are after.
Transparency comes in other forms as well. Struggles with alcoholism, depression, cancer and other health concerns are commonly shared. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are also frequently told. Even spats between competing businesses don’t seem to be off limits for some marketers.
On the flip side, I’ll sometimes hear people say that only posting the positive aspects of life or constant wins is unrealistic. Buy why? I wonder if it’s because we need to see others falter in order to feel better about ourselves? Sharing positive self-expressions are equally as valid as sharing heartbreaking struggles.
Just because you can share everything doesn’t mean you should share everything. With a little forethought and planning, you can keep certain aspects of your story private and protect the integrity of your brand.
Social Media and Your Brand
Here’s where a lot of business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well…business.
But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Too much? Does this insight affect your know, like, and trust of that individual? Are you drawn to do business with them or avoid them due to T.M.I. (too much information)?
When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention not only to what you say, but who you’re saying it to. Ask yourself, “Is this advancing my overall brand message or distracting people from it?” I love the idea of creating a group with invited friends to share deeply personal information. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friend” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.
Your Digital Footprint Lasts Forever
While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. We’ve seen to have lost the ability to pick up the phone or meet a few friends for tea or drinks to talk about our most personal issues. Instead, its become commonplace to share every nuance of our lives openly in plain view.
However, think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.
So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading and how it will affect your brand image.
The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. Whether you’re comfortable or not sharing certain aspects of your life and business, it’s hard to know if your audience is equally as comfortable hearing about it. If you’re clear on your brand then this will be a no brainer for you. Yes, be authentic and real so your audience can get to know who you are, your values, and beliefs. However, it’s also okay to maintain some privacy, even in the transparency of the digital space.
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