This general concept has been called out in various ways, in various articles on this site since we started posting a few months back. I think it is time to call it out more specifically. And that is this; if you fake it online, we (the broad “we” of the online populous, not just us here at BookPromotion.com) can tell. By this I mean:
- If you hire someone who will pretend to be you, we can tell.
- If you hate whatever social media network you are using, and are doing it under duress, we can tell.
- If you pre-set and pre-program your tweets, we can tell (although caveat, in some cases, I personally think this is fine, but you have to do so judiciously and while ALSO interacting in a genuine and real time fashion between those pre-scheduled posts).
- If you constantly comment/tweet/post only your own work, you aren’t technically faking it, but you aren’t really participating either. Not true interaction – and we can tell.
The best illustration of why this probably is came to me in a TEDx talk this past weekend here in Seattle. Unfortunately the video is not yet online so I can’t link to it here – you will have to take my word for it. The speaker, John SanGiovanni founder of Zumobi spoke about “The rise of the artist-geek hybrid and other freaks of invention”. I really enjoyed the talk overall, but the relevant portion here was when he spoke about his earliest career as a character entertainer at Disneyland (the artist portion of his geek career). He mentioned one particular thing he had internalized from the Disney training, and that they and subsequently he, believed to be true. This was that the character actors were instructed to smile for photos, within the costumes, even though their true smile was hidden by the costume head. The Disney folks claimed it showed through in an attitude, and that the guests could tell the difference. The Disney folks are pretty well known for the art of entertainment, in particular that of children, who have fantastic bullsh*t meters, in my experience. This makes me inclined to believe this theory.
When does faking it make sense?
When you are learning a new skill, the old adage “fake it ‘til you make it” is true. You have to try it out for a good long while before it will feel, and then become, genuine. In that case, we will also be able to tell and will likely forgive you as the newbie that you are. We might even help you!
In this same vein, I think hiring someone to augment or direct your marketing is fine, as long as you are a part of the process, and are not asking them to pretend to be you. I am sure there are marketing folks out there who disagree with me on this and will tell you that having an expert do it is preferable to the client fumbling around. We can just agree to disagree on that point, OK? Hey, we all have our skill sets, and we all need help sometimes. I just don’t think this should be used as an excuse to not do the work yourself but then expect it to pay off. I will give you a couple of examples of the acceptable version of this relationship:
- You hire a social media intern to post your blogs for you, but you write them.
- Or, you write the posts, but have someone who edits them.
- You work with a publicist to post some tweets, but you create them together.
- Or, they write them based on your input, and you approve them before dissemination. (Of course this scenario also assumes you are on Twitter yourself on occasion having actual interactions – just to be clear).
- You hire a marketing manager to help you follow best-practices, and allow them to edit your posts and tweets while you learn the ropes.
In short, if you fake it, we can tell. And depending on why you are faking it, we may or may not forgive you. Choose wisely!