Branding Tip: How Much Transparency Is Too Much?
Branding Tip: How Much Transparency Is Too Much?
Are you currently working to create your personal brand or rebrand your business? Today’s branding tip is about transparency. In my work with my marketing clients, I often talk about how important it is to tell your personal story, to be authentic and not be afraid to share all of who you are. But just how open and honest should you be when it comes to sharing your story?
The simple answer is to share what you are comfortable sharing. If you follow my blog or subscribe to my newsletter, I tend to share quite a bit about what is happening in my personal life as well as my business life. Sharing our story makes us relatable and can also position us as experts in our industry.
Ask yourself before sharing a story:
- will people be able to relate to this story?
- do my clients need to hear this story?
- how can this story educate or help others?
- will this story position me as an expert?
In recent efforts at being more transparent, I have begun to share more of my art. The painting above is an example of a current project in process. I am taking a course with Whitney Freya this year called Super Soul Flow. One of the things we are asked to do is to NOT love our art, to not be attached to the outcome but to use painting as mediation and to enjoy the process. I feel a bit naked sharing an unfinished piece of work but part of self-love and authentic transparency does require at least a partial baring of the soul. It does not require that I wear my heart on my sleeve.
I struggled for so long with that inner critic’s voice that told me I couldn’t draw or I couldn’t paint, I couldn’t lose weight or run fast… In fact that inner critic can still be pretty demanding although I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. Sometimes I feel like a split personality, so confident and sure about some aspects of my life and work and insecure about others. For the past year, I have been working on integrating all of who I am into my work as a creative business coach.
I am not perfect but that doesn’t mean I am not great at what I do. By being more transparent, I am healing myself. This is my personal process. Yet, I am also very conscientious about what I share publicly, especially on social media.
Pat Flynn and Jon Lee Dumas are two entrepreneurs who are notorious for their transparency, even going so far as to post their monthly income statements. You might argue that when you’re making the kind of bank they do (6+ figures each month) it’s easy to share—perhaps even inspirational to your audience.
But it might also be off-putting to some, since talking about money is often seen as vulgar. In this case, though, it works to attract the exact audience they are after. Others will find other mentors, and that is, after all, the point of marketing.
Transparency comes in other forms as well. Struggles with alcoholism, depression, cancer and other health concerns are commonly shared. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are told. Even spats between competing businesses aren’t off limits for some marketers.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to be frank and honest about all areas of your life and business. It’s important to remember that what you post online can have an impact on how you are perceived by your prospects and your current clients.
Yesterday I shared on my Facebook business page about my son’s 16th birthday on Sunday. What should have been a glorious day of joyful celebration was terrible. He had a total meltdown worthy of a 5 year old. I shed some tears, too, but my post was not about my son’s terrible behavior it was about how my husband and I chose to react – offering our son loving-kindness and respect when it would have been so easy to just be mad. I appreciated the outpouring of love and support from my community, sharing empathy and understanding what it means to parent a teenager. It was a relatable story, reading this I am sure many of you have similar stories.
I posted this on my business page, not my personal page and asked a powerful question about how we learn to master our reactions to difficult conversations. I didn’t post it on my personal page where it would embarrass my son. It was my story I wanted to share, not his.
Branding Tip: Watch Your Social Media Profiles
Here’s where a lot of business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well, business.
But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Too much? Maybe.
When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you’re saying it to and how you choose to say it. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friend” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.
Remember, the Internet is Forever
While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.
So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.
The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. If you’re not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they won’t be comfortable hearing about it, either. It’s okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.
Choose what you are willing to share. In the case of the story about my son, I knew I would be supported. It’s not my typical story, in fact most of the times I get to brag endlessly about my kids. But not every day is perfect. Be willing to quiet that inner critic and show up with some level of transparency in your business. The best branding tip I can offer you is to stop hiding and show the world all of your beautiful self.
Minette, this is a great article. Answers so many questions that I hear from my trainees all the time. Perfect explanation and stories that I will definitely share.
Hello my favorite guru!! So nice to see you hear Cindy. Glad you found this useful for your trainees.
I’m so glad that you brought this up. There is such a thin line between sharing personal information so that readers feel like they know me and “too much information”. Thanks for sharing because it’s good to know that other bloggers are considering this.
Hi Barbara, thanks for stopping by. This is an important topic but as a personal blogger remember that people love getting to know you. Don’t be afraid to share some of you funny moments, challenges and high points 🙂
Such good advice, Minette. It is important to remember that the information we share will last as long as the technology it’s exposed on. Who knows how long that will be? In the hope that some memories will be preserved, I’m sharing my experience from life in the 50s once a week. Soon, everyday life will be gone from that era.
Francene, I love that idea, brilliant. I am sure your stories are fantastic. I will have to go check out your blog and look for your reflections on the 50s.
I love this “By being more transparent, I am healing myself.” This is the healing mantra of the perfectionist. I am one, too, so I know that when I took steps to be more transparent, that is when things started to break open in my business. People appreciate vulnerability in business…IMO. I do. I want to know that the person I am hiring has walked the walk and experienced adversity and struggle. Thanks for posting this important message.
Thanks Kellie for confirming what I tell my clients – sharing our story is so powerful, especially when it is done in a way to show that you can relate to someone else’s challenges and struggles.
Oh my, oh my, oh my ~ THANK YOU for this. I just spent a portion of the morning unsubscribing from newsletters and blog feeds that are full of things I just don’t want to know about people. And that’s probably a good thing — both for me and the people marketing to them. I’m not their target audience.
To find the line between “authentic” and “emotional flashing” is not always easy. “I have struggled and now I’m better” does not position anyone as an expert. Your four questions are wonderful tools for sorting that out. Thanks for an important and timely post.
Glad you liked those questions, it was an inspired moment 🙂 Hee hee. Yes, I too have been unsubscribing and focusing in on what matters most to me. Glad you found this post helpful, Andrea!!
I love this discussion Minette. The lines really do get blurred on social media between business and personal life. It is important to strike the right balance or you can lose people.
So true, Joy and I would be curious to see how your archetypes fit into this conversation around transparency 🙂
Minette what a thoughtful post and a great reminder. I know sometimes that I want to repond to a comment or the like on FB and I stop myself as there are views that sometimes as you say are better not shared! People do forget the internet is forever 🙂
Suzie, sometimes I do the same thing, especially if it’s a volatile conversation or something I disagree with. I tend to keep my views to myself or share privately, not publicly!
Great thoughts about transparency. I think there are many shades of discernment here. I may be much more transparent in my own shares than I am in a comment, for example. And I do try to consider the audience.
I do know that I am wildly transparent, which works for me, and helps me connect to my intended clients in a powerful way. But this may not work for everyone. Your mileage may vary.
You are wildly and wonderfully transparent in a very healthy and inspirational way Sue! Love all of who you are!
Forgot to say: Thanks for sharing your painting! I’m painting nearly every day now, which is very new, and very scary, and I appreciate your chutzpah!
yeah Sue for painting daily. I would love to make more time for painting, I usually save it for weekends but this week I did find myself just spending a few minutes here and there to add a layer to my self-love piece and even that was so gratifying!
Awww hun….I hope things have settled down in your home now #HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSS You are a colorful, confident and creative inspiration for us all!
Anyone who knows me will endorse my tendency to be blatantly honest about MOST areas of my life. HOWEVER, there are certain issues that I don’t wish my friends, family or acquaintance (except select ones who are closest to me!) know, and hence I take them off my Timeline and into the Private Messenger.
OF COURSE, what you post in the PM is just a cut and paste away from becoming public (I HOPE Facebook cracks down on this too – I don’t think anyone should be allowed to copy PMs 😀 ). But that’s why you need to be extra mindful about your closest circle!
Betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow – so choose to surround yourself with only those who will have your back, no matter what. And I am blessed to HAVE a few people who fall in this category <3
LOVE YOU TO PIECES
I love the reminder to be careful who you choose to share with, play with and surround yourself with! As we grow, our friends may challenge us, betray us or simply disappear. This is so difficult in the moment but I have found there is always a reason and purpose.
Great advice Minette! Being myself and sharing authentically is my guiding principle when it comes to social media and all communications, really. As you say, by being transparent we heal ourselves;) Especially healing the fear of being seen and heard, which so many women find challenging… I still find layers being released in myself every time I share something vulnerable.
joyful blessings, Tina
P.S. I LOVE your art!
Thank you Tina for being you. I always love your authenticity, it shines through in all you do. So true that the more we are willing to share, the more layers that are revealed that are ready for release and healing!
Brilliant post Minette – beautifully argued and a reminder about what we say and post does brand our business. Transparency is conditional and we need to remember that social media is a powerful platform for branding. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Jacqueline! Yes, social media is a powerful platform but we have to play with caution, look both ways before crossing the street 🙂
What a great (and timely) post, Minette. I was just thinking about this yesterday as I worked to pick myself up out of an emotional slump. Yes, life coaches have ups and downs, too! But what I feel and what I choose to share must be measured. Thanks for another great post!
Thank you Sheila for sharing your vulnerable moment here. It’s true, we are all humans living a very human life 🙂
[…] yesterday’s blog post, I talked about How Much Transparency is Too Much when it comes to sharing your personal stories on social media. I shared how my son’s 16th […]
A couple of things pop out of this for me Minette: The opposite of sharing the personal information with our professional side also may mean sharing too much business stuff to our personal tribe. Many times I have posted a MEME on my personal timeline that has more to do with my books or coaching than it has to do with my actual “status.” I do this because I have a lot more “friends” than I have “followers.” I think this use of FB or of any social media for business alienates some true friends who are used to a deeper connection. And during election years, wowza! Some social media conflicts were like the skies of Independence Day in America -fireworks blazing! My point is, there truly is NO separation of our personal and professional self on social media. Of my 1800+ “friends” on Facebook, the percentage of those who actually know me is small. That’s an issue for Facebook to address. It’s far more easy to have folks ask to “friend” than to “follow.” And it was predictable that FB in particular would evolve into a sales bed as the potential is so vast. But on another note of your fabulous post, I gotta say that the idea of “ART Meditation” lit me up! YES!! And how basic that I have not considered art as a form of meditation even as I paint, draw, and sculpt! Fantastic. And finally, as for the 16 year old becoming a 5 year old, well yes, that tug-of-war transition from the safety net of youth into the responsibilities of adulthood is perhaps the most tumultuous period of any throughout life. And sometimes they do out grow it…around thirty. If it were me, I’d just blame it on that big full moon…. Thanks for another (as usual) great post.