It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.

 

A current maxim on social media strategy demands that we “be authentic”.

 

Great advice–unless you’re a jerk.

 

Or you’re thinking about sharing a strong political opinion with your clients.

 

Or you can’t spell very well.

 

Your clients are paying for a professional service. Your online persona has to reinforce your professional value.

 

A few weeks ago, a gym owner asked if her husband’s social media posts were hurting their business. This was a first for me, but obviously she was worried enough to ask. And for good reason: his Instagram feed was full of “Kick ’em all out!” and “Build the wall higher!” memes. There was some pretty outrageous stuff in there. His political affiliation wasn’t just polarized: it was extreme. Even a conservative would feel uncomfortable reading some of this stuff.

 

How would a client feel? How would they associate those beliefs with your business?

 

Like it or not, every entrepreneur is a public figure. The easiest way to get “likes” on Facebook is to be likable.

 

I’m not recommending that you fake anything. I’m suggesting you consider your audience before you post.

 

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of many “authenticity” advocates. Watch any of his videos from the last five years, and you’ll him use the F-word like a comma. His audience is entrepreneurs now.

 

But his audience USED to be neighborhood people who wanted to buy wine from his dad’s shop. Watch Wine TV’s first few years’ worth of episodes. Is there a single swear word?

 

Go ahead and check. Here’s the first episode to get you started.

 

Before the “Gary Vee” hype, Vaynerchuk was selling wine to a local audience of higher-income clients. He was mostly an owner-operator trying to turn a low-wage job into a profitable business. He did. But he’s not the same person selling the same product now.

 

Even his 1002nd episode, shot in 2016, he uses the language of his wine audience–not the language he was using on stage for entrepreneurs at the same time. His language, clothing and manner isn’t evolving; it shifts depending on who’s in front of him. At 21:56 in the above video, he says “I day trade attention.” And the RIGHT attention matters.

 

The same language, posture and attitude that attracts audiences to his keynote speeches would turn off most of his wine-drinking audience. So he puts on a collared shirt to do Wine Library TV, calms down by ten notches, and uses different words. One viewer’s wine is another’s poison.

 

Many entrepreneurs want to believe that the “hustle” excludes them from social best practices. They huddle with other founders because they believe that no one else understands them. And in making themselves distinct from those they would serve, they’re saying, “You’re not like me.”

 

Take it from a guy who’s been there: don’t try to be cooler than your audience. Create the platform on which they can be the cool kids–not you. Think friends, not followers. Use the language, dress and habits of those you want to attract.

 

By all means, be authentic. Show people who you really are. And constantly strive to improve that person.