Social correctness is hurting social media. That’s quite a loaded statement to make, especially when so many people are openly using social media to voice their opinions. As a person who has a public brand, who speaks her mind, and stands strong in her convictions, I often find myself questioning whether or not social media has turned people into impostors. Freedom of speech is our given right (at least here in the United States), but that freedom comes at a price which makes it not so free. I believe we can’t be 100% honest on social media because most people can’t handle it.
The other day I was in deep conversation with several associates who each shared their own perspectives as business owners with fast rising brands.
One, a founder of a tech company, stated that he would never compromise his opinions online just to placate the masses because it would be an insincere portrayal of his true self. He feels accept me, accept my opinions or you don’t have t buy from me. Another, an owner of a spa company, stated that she reserves the right to say what she wants, but chooses to carefully weigh sharing her thoughts so she doesn’t offend anyone.
By censoring herself she often gets clients who come in that she’d rather not have patronize her establishment. But because she has a brand to protect, she remains silent as long as they are good customers and pay their bill.
Another, a real estate agent, says that she deals with wealthy clients, some who may not always have gotten their gains legitimately. And while she would rather not do business with them, she does it because she has a brand and lifestyle to uphold. So she keeps her comments offline and within her inner circle so she doesn’t risk offending anyone and losing business. And the last one, a consulting firm owner, has very strong religious and political views that often cause her to become a firestorm of conversation. I won’t say which way she leans (as it isn’t necessary for you to know that), but needless to say she now doesn’t allow political or religious conversation on her social networking pages. We deduced in this conversation that if you keep it too real, you lose out and your brand suffers. But how real is too real?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but everyone talks about authenticity and being real and transparent on social media to build trust within your community or tribe. But there’s a slight glitch in that theory. If you’re too real, you risk alienating people. If you’re not real enough, you risk alienating people when your true feelings surface. It’s as if you are put in a no-win situation. I have done a great job of building my brand and audience. People seem to love my straight from the hip approach and that I’m not afraid to say what’s on my mind. As one person put it I say the things that others are thinking but dare not say out loud.
I’ll own this, but within reason. I tell people that the Adrienne you see online is the Adrienne you get in person. I have my good days and my bad days, and for the most part, people respect that. But I find that when I speak on certain topics, there is always a small group of people who get offended. I don’t set out to intentionally offend anyone, that’s not my style. I speak the truth as I see it and I am always open to healthy debate with people of differing opinons…when it remains a respectful, healthy exchange.
Sometimes I’ll learn something and my opinion may change, and sometimes I find that I was right in my opinion. But I never let the conversation go sour. I have the right to share how I feel and not be chastised for my opinions. We can agree to disagree and move on. It should have nothing to do with the value you find in my services and products. It doesn’t matter if I like red and you like purple or if I like comedy and you like drama. So why does it matter if I like Obama and you like Romney? I mean really, how does my preference affect your pocket?