Authenticity in the Digital Space

Like most of us, I wear many hats: mom, wife, blogger, PR girl, social media fiend.

And since I work AND play in the digital space, it’s a tough balancing act sometimes.

The #1 rule in being a good communicator is to know your audience. But what if your audience is as varied and complex as you are? How can one be authentic if  you’re shying away from who you are in some circles? This, I’m learning, is one of the biggest challenges of being active in social media.

I’ve never hid my hats — as you know, I tend to be a “lay it all out there on the table” kind of girl.

But I do generally use discretion with what gets posted where.

For example, I don’t often share my blog posts on Facebook … nor did I share the ins and out of my Daily Mail debacle on Facebook. I just didn’t want to draw attention in that space. Yet I tweet out some blog posts and certainly voiced my frustrations over Twitter. Why? Because many of my Twitter followers are fellow bloggers who, as I rightfully suspected, were outraged by what happened last week — and gave me the support I needed.

And while the people I’m closest to know about my blog and would surely offer kind words, I just didn’t need to open that can of worms on Facebook.

Whereas on Facebook I’m only engaging with friends I have in real life, on Twitter, it’s a whole different story. In that space, I engage with new moms about mommy things like pregnancy, weight loss, sleep issues, breastfeeding, milestones, etc. I engage with fellow bloggers about trends, conferences, topics, etc. I engage with work friends about relevant work stuff and easy banter. And I engage with friends in real life about just about anything.

The way I see it, my followers who aren’t interested in a specific tweet won’t engage, and that’s perfectly OK. Until today, didn’t think much about my hats or the fact that my persona in the online sphere is so multifaceted

Here’s what happened.  I posted a tweet (from the mother’s room at work, where I was painfully pumping) that read, “I see why so many women who go back to work give up on BF. It’s ridiculously hard. #motherhood.”

It was one of those thoughts that I wanted to share, expecting to instigate some dialogue with other nursing working moms — particularly my blogging friends, or anyone else.

Well, the only response I got was from a male work friend who replied, “TMI.”

Now here’s the thing. I wrote it knowing the majority of my followers are women, and many are moms — if not working moms. I didn’t write that tweet for him … or any specific person and, of course, “TMI” is quite subjective in an of itself.

(I mean, I’d thought — but hadn’t said — stuff like, “My kid’s the most amazing suckler.” Or, “Baby spit up all over my gray wrap dress 2 minutes before I had to leave for work. #FML” Those things I do keep to myself, funny or amusing as they may be. But a general comment about how hard being a nursing working mom is … that was not TMI to me at all).

Thus began a dialogue, with me explaining how my Twitter feeds into my blog; him saying that tweets like this might change the make-up of my followers; me basically saying it doesn’t matter to me because the core of my followers are women, bloggers, blog readers, etc. and they are my core audience; and him saying  he can take the hint.

The truth is — and I’m not sure I got the point across to him — is that it’s not that people outside that core audience don’t matter … sure they do. But they are “outliers” when it comes to my messaging and my “brand” if you will.

If you look at a person through the lens of a brand, Crystal Light knows that some men like their beverage. But is advertising in, say, Popular Mechanics — a predominately male-targeted publication– going to be a likely target? Probably not. That doesn’t mean Crystal Light as a brand would be upset to know men are avid consumers of their product too; just that it doesn’t make sense for the brand to focus on that “outlier” group of potential consumers.

So while in the social spaces we might have several audiences, in order to be true to who we are, we need to focus on core audience — be it our personal or professional audience. For me, I’m using the social spaces personally and I use LinkedIn professionally.

Though he didn’t intend to inspire a blog post about authenticity, I’m glad my coworker got my wheels turning. The banter back and forth really helped reaffirm my beliefs that I’m using these tools the way I want to, and also reaffirmed my desire to re-rand myself (blog, etc.).

It’s time. My domain expires in June, and I want to redirect to a new blog (called something entirely different, to be determined later!) — which will house the same content but with a broader focus than just my recovery.

I want to be authentic.

And for me, that means maybe upsetting some people along the way, resulting in losing their following or friendship. So be it. As with many things in life, in social media, truly, one size does not fit all.

How about you? How do you juggle your hats in the various  social spaces? If you’re a blogger, how does that work into the mix?

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4 thoughts on “Authenticity in the Digital Space

  1. I do things similarly as you do. I’m more all me on Twitter and my blog. People I don’t even like from high school are on my FB, as is my mom… so I really filter anything I say on there. FB for me is a personal realm. Twitter and the blog are public, so obviously they’re filtered, but differently.

    As for your male coworker, it’s a sad indictment of the state of breastfeeding in the U.S.. Any details about bf’ing should not be TMI. Would he have responded similarly if you said something about how you hate washing bottles? Probably not.

    The whole idea of personal branding is so interesting to me. People clearly do it but people also don’t like when it’s transparent. Seems like a fine line to tread.

    1. Candice, you’re very right … it is still seemingly a taboo subject and it shouldn’t be. I’m not nursing in front of anyone, and it was a comment about how I was feeling at the moment.

      It is a fine line …that’s for sure!

  2. I try to keep my blogging life seperate from my facebook world. the reason is because my family are friends on facebook and as a result my mom’s coworkers and bosses can see my facebook. One time unfortunately I posted something personal on facebook and my moms boss read it and it put my mom in a ackwards situation. I now use the security tools available on facebook and seperate people into groups so only certain people can see certain things.
    I know that I really dont have a “big” blog but my blog is personal and I have shared personal parts of my life there and I am not sure that my mom’s boss needs to read it.
    I wish you the best as you switch blog names/identities, but know that there will always be there to read and comment. I for sure will! 🙂

    1. Seems we’re on the same page, Lindsay!

      Thank you–I’ll make sure this blog redirects and will make an announcement when it gets closer (domain expires in June so probably not for a while yet). Thanks for reading!

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