Social Media: Personal Authenticity = Marketing Authenticity

As someone keenly interested in the paradigm shift from traditional marketing to what we at Media Logic refer to as “modern marketing,” I recently had an insight from which others, in their pursuit of professional transformation, might benefit.

First, let me take you back some twenty months when I first ventured into my personal Twitter account, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. I readily entered this new world with just enough activity to stay visible and gain practical, user experience: posting to walls, liking, uploading, commenting, joining brand communities and dabbling in a FB apps (“What should your parents have named you?” or “Who were you in a past life?”). I certainly made my foray in a way that I would now characterize as flirting with social media platforms, kind of toying with an online social life.

In fact, I have a distinct recollection of a conversation with my same-generation friend, Sally, “Yes, I’m on Facebook and Twitter….have to be as a marketer…”  Sally is a committed blogger with strong opinions and impressive writing skills. She sees no difference between online versus offline life. She has a high level of connectivity, tweeting and re-tweeting, re-publishing, point/counterpointing, and is constantly engaged. I, on the other hand, approach social media and my online life as an academic exercise, a giant science experiment, somewhat detached and cerebral.

It took an insightful blog post from Alexandra Samuel to shift my perspective. And, in the process, help make me a better modern marketer.

In essence, Ms. Samuel divides the world into two camps – those whose reality seamlessly encompasses offline/online life and those who live a dual existence of In Real Life (IRL) versus online. She observes that a segment of the population feels moved to apologize for their online lives, a statement that prompted my “aha” moment. Ms Samuel writes:

….it’s our decision — individually and collectively — to separate the Internet from the context, norms and experience that guide human behavior. It’s our decision to engage in online interaction as if it were fundamentally different from offline conversation. It’s our decision to label the Internet as something — anything! — other than real life.

The author articulates a set of guidelines designed to encourage us to “start living in the 21st century reality….to acknowledge online life as real, and [then] the Internet’s transformative potential opens up.” I find her advice, excerpted below, worth remembering in the pursuit of not only personal authenticity but also authentic marketing:

  • When you focus on creating real meaning with your time online, your online footprint makes a deeper impression.
  • When you treat your online attention as a real resource, you invest your attention in the sites that reflect your values, helping those sites grow.
  • When you spend your online time on what really matters to you, you experience your time online as an authentic reflection of your values.
  • When you embrace online conversations as real, you imbue them with the power to change how you and others think and feel.
  • When you talk honestly about the real joys and frustrations of the Internet, you can stop apologizing for your life online.

To take Samuel’s guidelines and extend them to a modern marketing mindset may require a shift in thinking. However social media is, after all, no different than traditional marketing in one fundamental way: great advertising and direct response is created by those who have a pre-requisite beyond professional skills, that is, a personal and emotional connection — as a consumer not a creator.

At Media Logic, as early believers, we’ve had a head-start on moving past the intellectualization stage to view online/offline interaction and marketing seamlessly and agnostically. This perspective has allowed us to work with clients from diverse sectors – Financial Services, B2B, Retail, Healthcare – wherever they fall on the continuum and consistently extend the boundaries of what our clients think is possible.

I’ll leave you with a final thought from Alexandra Samuel “all it takes is the decision to treat your online existence seriously, honestly, and attentively and you will find the internet is RLT (Real Life Too).”  Great advice for people and marketers too!