Honest Vulnerability Is a Better Personal Brand Than Pretending Life Is Perfect
The social media era has been a fascinating time period that I’m sure psychologists and researchers have salivated over. There are many people whose everyday actions are determined by how they will be perceived on Instagram or other social media platforms. On social media, you typically encounter everyone’s best moments -- their highlights; the glitz and glamour.
Recent Superbowl MVP Nick Foles said it best: "I think in our society today -- Instagram, Twitter -- it's a highlight reel. It's all the good things. And then when you look at it, when you think, 'Wow,' when you have a rough day, 'my life's not as good as that.' You think you're failing."
However, there seems to be a growing number of content creators who are taking another approach. There are creators who are beginning to create content on social media with the understanding that real life is not a series of just highs. Giving a more holistic view of your life, the good and the bad, is more likely going to help you attract more interest because that’s how most people’s lives actually are.
Not only does posting more vulnerable content attract a bigger audience, but it alleviates the pressure of creators to maintain a lifestyle that can be mentally taxing. This applies to the entrepreneur who has to maintain the lifestyle of “everything being OK” and his or her company “killing it." It also applies to the Instagram model who has to continually purchase new clothes and items to take pictures and maintain an image. It’s easier to build a personal brand off of who you really are and what you are going through rather than an image you are trying to keep up with.
Creating and posting vulnerable content takes courage. It takes courage to open up about what’s not going right and to show the world, especially on social media, that everything isn’t always OK. Here are my five tips on how to go about doing this.
1. Make sure you are comfortable.
A lot of people who try to post content that’s personal or conveys them in a vulnerable way often end up regretting it and deleting their content. They typically feel insecure and are constantly wondering how their followers view their content. “Am I saying too much?” Or “I don’t want people feeling sorry for me.” Deleting your post conveys a lack of conviction. Before posting online, share your post with 10 people you know, and get their feedback and input. That can give you a taste of the varying opinions you will get and give you an idea of how you personally feel about opening up to your followers.
2. You determine the narrative.
If you are going to discuss something personal such as mental health, a death, etc., then make sure you don’t leave your content up for interpretation. Explain your content with enough detail and clarity so that you feel both comfortable and confident. The feedback and responses you get from your content will be a lot more sensible, and you’ll find yourself explaining a lot less in responses back to followers.
3. Engage with your followers.
After posting vulnerable content, there are a couple of ways the responses can go. There can be a lack of responses due to followers feeling uncomfortable or not knowing exactly how to respond. There may be those who give a light vote of approval to acknowledge your content but not willing to dive into an extensive conversation with you. Then there are those that will feel strongly about what you posted about and really want to connect with you. Regardless, make sure you engage with everyone. Thank everyone willing to acknowledge your vulnerability. Comment back. Show the world that you aren’t afraid.
4. Be authentic.
People are becoming more social media savvy by the day. They can sniff out a post that’s being created just for likes. Be true to your story and your vulnerabilities. There’s no need to add any extra fluff or exaggerate any instances. Be truthful and trust that your story will resonate with the right people.
5. Talk about the feedback.
It’s awesome when an individual shares a personal or heartfelt experience on social media and then goes on to post about the feedback that he or she has received. Let your followers know that others understand where you are coming from and that you are not alone. Let people know that you have inspired others to share their stories so that your followers can feel comfortable sharing with you. This will just lead to a more engaging community you are building for your own personal brand.