Instagram vs. Reality

Photo by  Meredith Graves

Every Thursday morning, I go live on Instagram to answer my followers’ questions and go live with those who wish to speak with me rather than type. It’s one of my favorite parts of the week and today was no different. I received an interesting question from Ellie, who asked how I can be so casual yet so professional while I’m on Instagram stories and live video.

Ellie’s question really got me thinking about how there’s so many people who treat Instagram different than reality. But I’m going to push back on that and say if you want to create a personal brand, you will have the most success when you are completely, authentically, unapologetically YOU.

And, by the way, you are always building a brand, whether you’re actually in business or not. A brand is just what people know you for, and what makes them think of you--everyone has that.

My mom was telling me last week that she is beginning to be known to the insurance agents she works with as the Irish woman--she brings Irish cookies and soda bread to meetings, she counts down to St. Patrick’s day, and refers to our trip to Ireland when it comes up. Her clients know her as being Irish—it’s her brand!

Your brand isn’t necessarily good or bad or even super unique. I mean, coffee is a huge part of my brand and it helps me connect with millions of coffee drinkers around the world. It’s just the parts of you that make you, you.

And if you think you’re uninteresting, think again love, because I know that there is only one you and that is fascinating.

So now your next question is probably how to decide how much of your reality to post on Instagram and when it’s considered “over-sharing.” My opinion is that only YOU can determine what you are comfortable with.

For more practical advice though, I recommend choosing between 5 and 9 categories you want to let your followers in on and stick to those categories. For me, business is my first and most posted-about category, followed by coffee, podcasting, my relationship with Addison, adulting, and cats.

These are the things my followers know me for. How did I choose them? They’re ME!

I am not any different online than I am in person. If you were to have coffee with me right now, I would be the exact same person that you listening to on the podcast player above.

So when Ellie asked me how I am simultaneously casual and professional on my videos, I answered: That’s how I am in real life! I am a natural business person, but I am also goofy and casual; so when you meet me, I’m pretty much always a good mix of casual and professional.

For you, this may be different. You may be sarcastic in your captions, you might be a little loud in your videos, you might be kind of quiet on your story, and that’s great! That’s who you are.

Friend, please: do not compromise a single unique personality trait just because you think it won’t be well received on the internet.

It’s not worth it, you won’t be able to keep up the facade, and often the things you don’t love about yourself are the exact things your audience follows you for. I want nothing more than to get to know YOU—the real you—and so do they. I promise.

Have a question of your own? See you on my next Thursday morning Instagram live!