I've been all up in social media's grill for quite some time now and it's very easy to start talking the talk. But I have a high bullshit sensor and really hate "bizspeak." Masterminding, low-hanging fruit, and taking a conversation offline all make me want to claw my face off. I realize that some work-specific vocabulary is necessary but much of it strikes me as pure posturing.
These days, I've been hearing a lot about the importance of "authenticity" and "being authentic." These words are being bandied about with as much abandon as "transparency" was last November. I admit that I've used these terms. Who hasn't asked an antique dealer if an oak clawfoot table is actually authentic? And, yes, I've used them when describing the importance of real, true social networking and communications, because there are a lot of phonies, blowhards, and chuckleheads out there in cyberspace. You can't see, hear, or reach out and touch someone when he sends a tweet. How do you know if it's worth your time to click on a link? Is it going to be a blog that touches the soul or captures the imagination? Or is it going to be an ad for penile implants? Sometimes you just don't know.
But you can increase your chances of striking cyber gold if you are engaging in social media regularly (and by engaging, I mean having conversations, reading your streams, posting your own compelling content, and not just stalking your twitterfeed and facebook home page). You can see someone's tweets, status lines, and thoughts over time and get a sense of their credibility, their authenticity.
And what speaks to me as authentic may not resonate with you at all. We have to find our own tribes, or twibes, as the case may be, and work on building our own, ugh, authenticity within them. Don't retweet everything you see. Don't hashtag people for #followfriday unless you really are digging on them. There is a buttload of quantity out there (which is admittedly hard to stomach if you're a professional writer like me who values great writing and likes to get paid for it); help yourself and your tribe sift through it. Recommend the things and people you truly like, write to your personality and not your bottom line, and seek out strong voices within the social media din. You'll come through loud and clear.
But remember: please use "authentic" sparingly or I might have to cybersmack you.
What's your definition of "authentic?" Are you fed up with this or any other buzzword these days?
You can find me on twitter @Jennifer_Worick or on Facebook. Follow me, friend me, join my tribe/twibe.
(A great book about building credibility within social networking is The Whufffie Factor by social media maven Tara Hunt, @MissRogue on twitter.)