Authenticity Image SocialMedia Communication: Be Real or Just Work?

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Are we on Facebook and Twitter naked in public? Or are social media appearances purely self-portrayals like in Hollywood?

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Authenticity in social media: story of a Swabian prank

The story begins like a real Swabian coup - and shows once again that especially in social media it is often not the planned strategy that leads to success, but the innovative idea, authentic appearance - and simply being good at what you do.

Or as Uwe Knaus, the blog manager at Daimler, tweeted so suitably yesterday: “Just heard: Those who are able to intelligently break rules will ultimately be successful. - Of a HR by the way.

How to hijack a media account

Two young men from Schwäbisch Hall and Heilbronn started tweeting with a lot of nerve under the ZDF-ONLINE account. Namely, as they tell charming in the video, because the account was simply missing. So they did it themselves!

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And that is very good: ZDFonline responds to criticism, kindly thanks for positive feedback, and helps with questions about the program. You take the ZDF-Neo account from another fake user. In the end it gets too hot for them and they give up their account.

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Positive reactions show how important authenticity is

The reactions - surprisingly positive. Instead of legal steps, there is an employment contract. By the way, we found the whole great story at Richard Gutjahr. And Sascha Lobo also commented there straight away:

"One of the media institutions that one would have least expected would be an excellent example of how to deal with the new media world."

Transparency, openness and authenticity are the key words of internet and social media communication

As funny as the story is, this is not really recommended as a job search strategy. It worked here because it did well. And because not every employer reacts as loosely as ZDF. The matter could also have turned out quite differently for the two.

However, history shows something completely different: transparency, openness and authenticity are the catchwords of internet and social media communication. Because every little mistake can be discovered immediately, there is nothing left for you to do but openly and honestly deal with your own weaknesses.

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New challenges in public communication

But that is exactly what presents us with new challenges: Because where the boundaries between public and private appearances used to be clear, they are becoming increasingly blurred today. For example, recruiting expert Robindro Ullah, formerly head of HR at Deutsche Bahn, said in an interview:

“It quickly became clear to me: A strict separation between professional and private topics is not possible at all. On the contrary: mixing leads to closer social contacts, strengthens the network among the employees. ”

Authentic does not mean uninhibitedly honest

The problem with this: more openness and transparency does not mean that everyone is just the way they are. Rather, the borders are no longer defined by social conventions, but by everyone. And that entails corresponding risks, as management consultant Olaf Hinz warns:

“... but the topic of 'authentic' is often exaggerated. What is needed is a coherent appearance or a coherent staging. And staging in particular also has an eye on the role models / expectations of employees, colleagues or the public. Because those who come personally and authentically and honestly are quickly perceived as 'too close' and 'too private' by their professional environment. I think it needs a professional demeanor that 'balancing' between authenticity and the role is neither adapted nor too private: a coherent staging…. ”

Faked authenticity or learned persuasion?

So it's not just a matter of being yourself, but of leaving an authentic impression. With this contradiction of “fake” authenticity, there are many difficulties. For example, a commentator writes:

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“Look professionally authentic - O weiah, this combination of words gives me a real stomach ache. Either I am something or I look like this. ”

Credibility yes, but not being real at all costs

According to presentation and impact expert Michael Moesslang, author of the book "Professional Authenticity", the point is not to bend. Rather, according to Moesslang, credibility is the goal of an authentic appearance:

“The more confident and confident a person appears, the more attributes such as persuasiveness and respect increase - which has a lot to do with each other ... Being real alone is no reason to be considered sovereign and credible. Someone who has always gone through life with sagging shoulders or avoiding eye contact is also real. ”

Authenticity - a mere matter of practice?

And according to Moesslang, credibility through confident and confident behavior is not achieved by simply being and staying - but much more by being willing to learn to change and develop - and by being confident practices and learns. According to Moesslang, exactly the resistances that arise must be overcome.

Authenticity that convinces. So is successful social media communication at the end of the day just a matter of practice?

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