Yesterday the internet was a frenzy of reactions as social media star, Essena O’Neill, produced a series of videos exclaiming (essentially) that her life was a hoax. If you haven’t seen it yet, you gotta check it out.
Wow. This is huge, and I think we can all learn from her experience.
I am not okay with many of her blanket statements about social media. Essena spoke of social media and the internet, saying “It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. it’s perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgement.”
When she first began her social media career Essena was just 16 years old. At 16 years old I barely had a grasp on who I was, let alone beginning to tackle the world’s perception of me. This is simply too young to begin an entire career that revolves around your personal brand! But there are still lessons within this scenario that all social media users (especially small businesses) need to learn from.
So what can we learn from Essena?
- Personal vs. professional: From an early point in your business, you will need to decide whether or not to use your personal social media as a part of your business. One HUGE reason you probably shouldn’t intertwine the two is one that Essena encountered… When customers make comments about your business (positive or negative!) it can be dangerous to associate those with who YOU are.Combining personal and professional is not something I recommend for small businesses.
- Brand Persona: Your brand is something that can be created, but is usually determined early on in your business. If your business is a fun and energetic restaurant, embrace it! The fight to be perceived as a upscale restaurant for business meetings would take an entire rebranding, and it may feel like you’re working to be something that your business simply isn’t.
- Monetization: A good product placement creates strategic partnerships, especially when it’s a product or service your business actually uses. Being paid to represent or use a product that doesn’t fit in with your brand is actually quite silly. Your customers will spot it as an advertisement from a mile away. This is the reason I am careful to only endorse the products that I love and enjoy using.
- Authenticity: Be true to your brand. Don’t spend hours each day trying to get the “perfect Instagram photo” as Essena emotionally recalled in her video. This is exhausting! Allow professional photographers to worry about taking perfect photos. I give you permission to let the authenticity of a quick photo speak on behalf of your brand.
While Essena may have claimed she was done with social media, the authenticity of her videos has inevitably grown her fanbase. She will be back, with a stronger following.