Authenticity has been a big buzz word in the biz world for a while now. But how can you ensure authenticity in business, what does authenticity even mean? And are you truly being authentic, or do you just think you are?
Are you, actually, being fauxthentic?
What Does It Mean To Be Authentic In Business?
Authenticity can be easily defined as being genuine, real, and not false or copied. At face value it would seem easy to apply this to business: don’t lie, don’t copy other people or their ideas, be true to yourself. But authenticity in business isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our lives are increasingly virtual. We exist more and more in the online world and less and less in reality. All this virtual existence makes us crave something real, especially in the virtual world. The digital age has made the world small. It’s also flooded the world with women, just like you, trying to be authentic in business.
While we now happily spend a fortune online, in both time and money, business in the online world is very different to business in the real world. In the real world when we want something we walk into a shop, pick it up, pay, and leave. No muss, no fuss. We may ask a sales assistant where to find what we want, or which of the available products is best, but it’s a very simple process.
Reality is straightforward.
The virtual world is very different. Anything can exist in a virtual reality. It’s the world of make-believe, of fantasy, and people online regularly expect more than a straightforward buy, especially from a small business.
They expect an experience. An adventure. An Odyssey.
They also expect that experience to be as honest as possible, as authentic as possible. Online businesses have to keep up with consumer demand for authenticity in a way seldom seen in the real world. In the real world we don’t scrutinise every word a company says on an individual basis. The press may poke about occasionally. There may be rumours and stories flying about.
This not only means what YOU write about your business, but what everyone else writes about it too. And when you run a business online you use a lot of words. If content marketing is the core of your business, every single thing you release will be scrutinised.
In order to survive in online business you MUST give people what they want, and expect, from an online business in the virtual age: total authenticity.
Does Authenticity In Business REALLY Work?
- It infuses your brand image and identity with something vibrant that allows you to become truly influential.
- It demonstrates you are trustworthy, both as a business and as an individual.
- It encourages people to engage with you and your business, join your tribe, and become eager supporters of you and what you do.
- It boosts your business profile to something beyond ‘corporate’. This is very appealing to the modern mentality which is increasingly mistrustful of big business.
- It makes you and your business relateable, allowing people to more easily understand what you are offering and how it will be of benefit to them.
- It makes your services, products, and business more substantive and demonstrates they are high quality.
Fauxthenticity comes into play when you underestimate your audience. When you think you can get away with shit because they won’t know any better. Or when you think that to be authentic you must present a squeaky clean image. You shy away from your real, genuine self. It can also happen when you underestimate the meaning of authenticity.
At face value it is a very simple concept. It boils down to being honest and nice in the way you practice business. But if this were all it was about, true authenticity would be easy. It’s a no-brainer: in order to be successful a business has to be nice and honest.
It’s a given.
But that is only the surface meaning of authenticity in business. Failing to dig deeper, to really infuse your whole business and brand with authenticity and a ‘true to you’ feel, is where you enter the murky waters of fauxthenticty. You can end up there by accident, or because you know you need to seem to be something you’re not. Either way, it’s bad, and you need to shut that shit down.
There are a few things to bear in mind about your readers that easily lead to fauxthenticity when they are misunderstood or ignored:
- Your readers know far more than you presume.
- This isn’t a ‘you verses your readers’ thing. You aren’t trying to con them, trick them, or get them to fall in line. You’re not out to brainwash them, fool them, or convince them you’re the second coming. You are trying to build a TRIBE. You may be the leader of that tribe, but all members should be equal in your eyes. Equal to each other and to you. This is a difficult concept for many to grasp. Surely if you’re the leader, you’re ‘in charge’. You’re ‘the boss’. You may be the boss of your business, but you are not the boss of your tribe. Your tribe are the only reason you HAVE a business, without them you would have nothing. RESPECT THAT!
- Your readers are socially very well-connected, and that connection empowers them to expect extremely high standards in an unprecedented way.
- They’ve got spunk – like, serious attitude and backbones made of diamond encrusted steel.
- Your niche is usually their niche, which means they know enough to spot a poser at a thousand paces.
- Duels are commonplace in the virtual world. Your readers will not be afraid to slap you in the face with a pair of gloves, call you out, and shoot you down the second they get a whiff of rodenty musk. That musk may mean you’re a rat, or is may mean you’re trying too hard and it’s showing. Either way, by the time you’ve defended yourself it will be too late, your reputation will be ruined.
- Which leads me to this big one – THEY ALL LOVE A SCANDAL! The virtual world is generally as gossip-hungry as a desperate housewife, and often just as vindictive. If someone feels wronged, they will not hesitate to air YOUR dirty laundry in public. And the second there is even a HINT of a scandal, you will be scrutinised.
- If part of your brand identity is that you are ‘authentic’ and the scrutiny of your readers turns up anything, ANYTHING that is not 100% genuine, you’re lost. The domino effect in your business will be difficult to halt. One false step can break your business. Online marketing is incredibly powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility…
So Are You Being Authentic of Fauxthentic In Your Business?
The key isn’t authenticity, it’s convincing authenticity.
To be clear, I’m not saying you need to trick people into believing you’re authentic, when you’re not. I’m saying there are a lot of people doing their best to appear authentic. They do this to the point their whole brand is about ‘authenticity’. Yet in reality there is nothing truly authentic about them. They may be purposefully deceiving, or they may simply be missing the mark. Not because they are ingenuine, but because the world got small.
People are suspicious by nature.
They’ve also heard it all before.
We’re trained to read between the lines. Look for the lie in things. Assume that if something sounds too good to be true, it is. It’s easier than ever to set yourself up as an entrepreneur, but it’s also easier than ever to scam people. And there is a FEAR that the ‘authenticity’ people project online is nothing but a mask to hide the SCAM.
This is an understandable fear. There are real people out there, really scamming and using their fauxthenticity to do it.
But there are also people being fauxthentic without realising it. It’s not because they are ingenuine. They simply don’t understand what authenticity in business means and how to truly be authentic.
Now that you have a full and complete understanding of what authenticity in business really means, you’re golden! Off with you and be genuine, and don’t forget to tell me how you’re doing!
Are you struggling to nail that authentic brand you crave?
Have you come across fauxthentic people in business? What did you learn from them?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this, comment bellow, or head on over to the Facebook discussion!