One of the questions asked recently at Social Media Marketing World was how much authenticity matters. How much does it matter if you don’t personally write your own social media posts and content, especially at a brand where it’s assumed that a social team will be at work anyway? For example, when I write for the SHIFT Communications blog, does it actually matter if my name is on the post?

If your audience is only consuming content and not interacting with the brand, then it doesn’t matter whose name is on it. You could be reading Seth Godin’s intern or Chris Brogan’s robot army, and as long as the content was still genuinely helpful, great.

Here’s where non-authenticity bites you: the moment someone asks you a question. If you’re doing a webinar or speaking onstage and someone references a blog post you wrote, it’s awkward and telling when it reveals that you don’t even know what you’ve written. “Hey Chris, in your post on Bitly URLs for social media analytics, why didn’t you address the JSON array from the API instead of using Google Sheets?”

If I hadn’t written that post, I’d be at a loss. Imagine responding with, “Oh, yeah, um…” I’d have to make something up or guess. In that moment, any credibility I have with the questioner would evaporate, and if that questioner was a potential business lead, my lack of authenticity could cost me thousands or millions of dollars.

Instead, if I know what I’ve written, if I actually am who I say I am, then I could say, “Absolutely you could, and in fact, a good portion of Bitly’s API is accessible ONLY by JSON, but that’s outside the scope of the blog post. You’d have to build the custom ImportJSON function from Trevor Lohrbeer to do that.”

The answer to the question often tells you more about what level of knowledge you have than the posted content itself.

This is why authenticity – meaning that you are who you say you are – is so vital. Answering insightful questions are the absolute best way to demonstrate the depths of your personal expertise.

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If you are who you say you are, you welcome questions rather than avoid them, and you ask for the hardest questions people have so that you can expand your own knowledge and growth.

To quote Oscar Wilde, be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. That includes what you post on social media. It’s fine to automate. It’s fine to schedule. But know what you’re sharing so that when someone asks you a question about it, you know the answer. In the words of friend and mentor Tom Webster, “Do your own work.”


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