“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Chik Fil A controversy this past week has had a lot of people talking, hasn’t it? And it’s amazing that it was able to get so much attention at the very same time as the Olympics. Seriously – it’d be hard to buy the amount of publicity they gained through word of mouth combined with incredible power of social media.
But it raises a good question for those who are active on social media and blogs:
Just how honest should you be when you blog or tweet?
Should that change just because your opinion might offend some people?
This came up on my own Facebook page a few weeks ago – I posed a quote graphic intending to provide encouragement – instead, it got some people’s blood boiling!
I don’t normally go seeking confrontation for it’s own sake. That said, I don’t think it was a bad thing, and here’s why…
One of the most important things that I teach about social media, that I’ve seen time and time again, is that it is incredibly important to be yourself. Write like yourself, tweet like yourself, and act like yourself. Bring yourself to your business, not just a cardboard cutout version of yourself with perfect but stilted words and no opinion about anything.
Your values and beliefs are a part of the uniqueness you bring to your business. And goodness knows, these days there are a lot of pretty strong opinions out there about competing beliefs and values, right?
I’m not saying that you should deliberately go out and seek confrontation about what you hold dear – unless that too is authentically you. I mean, it works for Perez Hilton, right? There is a BIG difference between voicing your own belief system and attacking the beliefs of others.
But if you try to hide your opinions for too long, you’ll seem cold to your readers. And you’ll have a hard time building the connections that social media is all about.
Will I lose followers if I’m honest about my opinions?
I’ll be honest with you. It’s highly likely that you will lose some people who disagree with your opinion. Just like it’s your right to have a belief, it’s their right to act in accordance with theirs.
But – it stands to reason that if they unfollowed you because your opinions and beliefs were that different, they probably weren’t your ideal client anyway!
Opinions Gone Viral
Social media has greatly increased the ease with which peoples opinions can be shared far and wide. Going back to the example of Chik Fil A, let’s look at what happened – with the issues taken out of it. The founder shared an opinion about a hot button issue. People on both sides had strong opinions in reaction. People on both sides shared those opinions and what they thought others should do via social media. Politicians got involved in expressing opinions, and suddenly the whole thing went viral and even got ugly in some cases.
Opinions can go viral in moments, thanks to social media. It makes you wonder if it’s worth being honest with who you are.
What Do You Stand For?
If you’re building a business on social media, you have to decide: What do you stand for? Do you stand for your beliefs and hold fast to them, or are you going to let other people dictate what you believe and what you share with the world?
By being yourself, you don’t have to “be” an issue, a cause or anything like that. But without being yourself, there’s no “you” to connect with, either.
Would love your comments…what do you think? Can you share your opinions on social media? Do you need to in order to be authentic?