Kerry has been taking advantage of the lockdown (and Clearbox’s very generous, if we do say so ourselves, training programmes) to add to her already bountiful social media skillset. As part of her training with brands like Hootsuite, Kerry has been reading books associated with the world’s favourite pastime and it’s got her thinking.
WHO ARE WE? WHO ARE WE? WHO ARE WE?
Bit dramatic, soz.
Who are we on social media? Over to you, Kerry…
I have been reading The Psychology of Social Media by Ciarán McMahon. The book raises some very interesting points about how we behave online, on social media in particular. So naturally I couldn’t help but want to dive a little deeper. The first chapter is all about Profiles and how we present ourselves on social media.
I would argue that the majority of us want to be as authentic as possible on social media, or at least come across as authentic. But is that actually where the challenge lies? Does social media create an environment that makes it difficult to present a true, authentic version of our selves?
When it comes to creating a profile on any social media platform, it’s almost vital to create the correct digital representation of ourself. That’s almost the beauty of social media, and why people perhaps find it so appealing - you can ultimately market the best version of yourself, no need to lie, but a little stretching of the truth is okay, right?
For example, it’s very easy to present yourself and communicate your identity differently on LinkedIn than TikTok, and that’s okay. You will have a very different audience on each of these platforms and ultimately you’re just bringing out different elements of your personality on each. I think it’s fair to say that being truly authentic on social media takes a lot of work.
Cast your thoughts to the “about me” box that many social media sites encourage you to complete when creating a profile. On some sites, this box has a strict character limit, which means only one thing - you must condense all of the best things about you into only a few lines. It would be counterintuitive to waste important space going over any of the negative things about you.
That being said, the majority of people don’t actually like explicitly talking about themselves on social media - they tend to show, rather than tell. By that I mean, we tend to construct our personalities and identities implicitly through our profile photos, the content we share, the content we like and the groups we are involved in. These indirect ways of communicating allow us to express our opinion without having to explicitly type it out. It almost feels like a safer way to get your point across, while maintaining authenticity.
Portraying a truly ‘real’ account of yourself on social media often requires a lot of work, so much so that it often comes across as inauthentic. If you are making updates or sharing content every ten minutes, it almost seems too much - you couldn’t possibly be doing all of those things. You can’t really win.
I find it interesting that in some ways we almost fake ourselves into being real. In many ways we behave how we think we should on social media. We share the content that is trending to stay involved in the conversation but often don’t really present the most honest version of ourselves. I’m not saying that we steer miles away from our authentic selves but I do think, whether we intend to or not, we tend to present a version of ourself somewhere between our ‘real’ self and who we would like to be.