One of the most valuable lessons that my mom taught me growing up was to be authentic. To be myself unapologetically.
Like ... if I wanted to dress up as a rabbit who carried around a sword while talking in a british accent that would've been completely okay with her! She always encouraged me to embrace who I was and to go do the things that I was passionate about. And you know what?
I think the same lesson of being authentic is equally important not just in life, but especially in your online business. Why?
Because not only does being authentic make you stand out in a world of super saturated markets (because there's only ONE you!) but being authentic also builds TRUST with your followers and clients. And trust is 100% necessary in their decision on whether or not to do business with you!
Makes sense riiiiiiight?
I mean think about it ... isn't it a huge turn off when you can tell that some one is being fake or hiding something? It doesn't really make you want to get to know them any better now does it? Or what about when you call a company who supposedly prizes the fact that they really care about their customers and when you get in touch with their "customer support" line you're met with a stupid robotic sounding recording that does anything BUT actually support you?
Not very authentic, if you ask me!
(Plus those pre-recorded robots are extremely aggravating to hold a conversation with!)
So do yourself and everyone else a favor and be authentic in everything that you do!
And if you're wondering how to be authentic so that you can build trust and be totally lovable online, read on! Because now we're gonna talk about five ways that you can be authentic with your people.
(Pssssst, I learned some of these great ideas from a totally awesome book called 'Likeable Social Media,' you should definitely give it a read!)
1. Be Human.
Yep, it sounds so simple and yet many people freeze up in this area when it comes to doing business! In trying to sound all "professional" they end up sounding more like premeditated robots. If you've made this mistake before don't worry! There's always time to change and there's several ways to humanize your business no matter how big or small it is like ...
- Show your personality. Yes, this is SUPER important in business! People like to follow and do business with people they feel they know on a more personal level. Try to find ways to inject your personality into your brand and the way you do business.
(And if you want help with this then you should definitely check out my free Strong Brand mini course which comes with my Be Your Brand workbook where I help you inject your personality into your brand to make it one of a kind!)
- Don't use a scripted response for massive amounts of people. I know that if you're trying to respond to massive amounts of people online (say on Facebook for example), it might be tempting to use templates for your responses. (And YAY for you on responding to massive amounts of people!) But it will look bad and inauthentic if people can see that you're giving the same scripted responses over and over.
While it might be important if you've got a larger business to have certain protocols on how to respond to people, you're really doing yourself a disservice by using scripted responses in public places. I mean ... you are literally stripping your responses of their authenticity, and that's a huge turnoff. Instead, simply decide on what tone of voice is acceptable to use for your business and develop a set of guidelines of things you will not say!
- Show empathy. The worst is when you have a complaint or a problem with a company and when you voice it you're met with a scripted sounding, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. We understand. Is there anything else I can do for your today?" Uhhhh, yeah how about you show me that you ACTUALLY understand my frustration and admit that you are a total dummy head!!!! (A completely mature response on my end, right?) But really. Truly seek to understand your people!
Take a moment to see it from their eyes and try putting yourself in their position! How can you inject empathy into the interactions that you have with your followers?
2. Develop and Use YOUR voice.
If your business is just YOU, then talk like YOU! If your business has buttloads of people, then develop a consistent voice for your brand. Remember, be human! Don't forget that behind your business is a living, breathing, super passionate and hardworking person. :-)
(You might fancy this post on how to use your voice!)
And if you wanna hear MY voice blabbing about business and blogging tips, you can listen to my first ever podcast interview right here!
You can sprinkle your voice all over to be more authentic! Places like ...
- Your about page. Let you and your brand's personality shine here, baby! Don't hold back. This is people's chance to get to know YOU as a lovable person and not as an impersonal business! (I definitely use my voice on my about page.)
- Your mission statement. What's the purpose behind your business? What is it head-over-heels passionate about doing? Your mission statement doesn't need to sound like a boring textbook response, it should be in your voice and show some passion!
- Your blog posts and/or the other types of main content that you create. If you're blogging (which you SHOULD be!) it's really important to have a strong voice. With so many blogs out there today you need to stand out and be true to yourself. People will get bored quickly and fail to connect with you if you sound like a robot spewing out facts and information!
- Your social media profile bios. Don't neglect your social media profiles! Develop a personal tagline to use across all of your profiles and fill that son-of-a-bitch to the brim with loads of personality using YOUR voice!
- When you engage with followers. Remember how I warned you against using scripted responses with massive amounts of people in public places? Here's the perfect opportunity to show people that you are a PERSON. Speaking of engaging with your followers, that's next on the list! (Speaking of engaging, feel free to join my free Facebook group for lady bosses if you'd like to connect with me more!)
3. Engage with your followers.
Find ways to engage with your followers as much as possible. Take time to respond to comments and make people feel appreciated! (P.S. check out this post for 10 tips to engage your blog's audience!) You can also be a super-savvy engaging biz owner by doing these things ...
- Be responsive on social media. Spend a little time each day on social media engaging with your followers, yo! Respond to comments and messages (especially to anything negative that might pop up!) Obviously if you gets hundreds of comments a day you won't have the time or sanity to respond to each one individually, but make being responsive a priority.
- Be open. A big part of being authentic is being open! Be transparent in what you're doing and how you're doing it and people will trust you more. Don't keep things hidden in the shadows like a sketchy cartoon villain! Especially if you make a mistake. Which leads me to ...
- Acknowledge and correct mistakes. Hey, there's no shame in making mistakes- we ALL make them! (Like this massive mistake I wrote about right here.)
Making mistakes just means that you're actually out there doing things! They are an inevitable part of the learning and growing process. BUT. It's really important to acknowledge and correct mistakes quickly, especially when the mistake involves followers and clients! Don't skim over the issue and try to hide it because you'll end up looking more shady than a giant oak tree! Get my drift? Admit to the mistake, apologize and then correct it.
4. Show them some behind-the scenes stuff.
Don't just show the carefully curated highlight reel of your business, show some behind-the-scenes stuff too! People like businesses and people that they can relate to on a personal level. On social platforms like Facebook and Instagram you can show people behind-the-scenes peeks of ...
- Your workspace.
- Any team members or people who work with you!
- You doing your thang.
- You "after hours."
Speaking of relating to people ...
(Like this behind-the-scenes photo of my kitty Mr. Purrie lounging in the window! Don't I have the cutest work view ever?)
5. Share personal stories.
This is one of the BEST ways to not only differentiate yourself from others but to humanize your business by being relatable! Sharing personal stories help you to truly connect with your followers and build a relationship with them, and having an authentic relationship with your followers is KEY for gaining trust and being lovable. You can share stories on your website's about page, blog posts, Facebook updates, Instagram captions ... the more the better!
So remember kiddies, just be you. Be REAL. Be TRUE!!!! :::starts singing passionately::: What it all boils down to is common sense really; be a real human. Nurture and develop your online relationships just like you would in person. Open yourself up, admit to mistakes, be as helpful and kind as possible.
Change the way you look at how you present you and your business online and on social media. Use every opportunity you can to connect with people, tell stories, show your personality, use your voice and give genuine interaction with your followers!
Can you think of a brand that you admire that does this well? Is there anything I should add to the list? Got any questions? Got milk?
Speaking of milk ... I'm pretty sure the carton of milk that's in my fridge right now is going bad.