With your social media profile’s publish button always just a tap away on your omnipresent smartphone, it can be tempting to document every little detail of your day for your online audience, whether it’s your puppy’s latest antics or a little humble-bragging about your made-from-scratch avocado toast.
On one hand, you have influencers like the Kardashians. They are (in)famous for what some would call oversharing, and they’ll post their exact locations and activities all throughout the day.
And on the other hand, you have the very real threat of identity theft and invasion of privacy related to sharing too much info online. Just ask the people who had their tax accounts hacked because hackers were able to guess their way into their financial accounts based on the Facebook pictures people shared of their pet or old school or parents (all commonly used details for security questions).
There’s also the question of your personal brand and what your audience wants from you. In the end, finding the balance of what you share and what not to share online can help you grow your social clout, increase engagement, and keep you safe.
1. Be Authentic to connect emotionally
Knowing the type of audience you want to build and the type of curated content this audience craves should help give you an idea of whether you should share something or not.
Twitter influencer Jeff Pulver found this to be essential for blowing up his follower count. According to an interview with Forbes magazine, he discovered that his audience wanted to connect with him on both a spiritual, emotional, and business level.
He decided to open up about what it was like to try and lose weight. Pulver posted what he calls “ugly” photos of himself working out, and his posts documenting his personal struggle with losing weight went viral. “Within moments, he discovered ‘unbounded love’ from total strangers,” reports the magazine. “People encouraged him to continue. As he became more open, more people started following him. At one point, he shared a photo of him doing a ‘lap pull down’ and received 500 likes on Facebook. In that moment, he discovered the authenticity of connecting.”
That being said, it’s important that you brainstorm how the authentic story you want to share relates to your overall profile. Is it something your audience cares about? Is it related to your theme and your vision and mission?
Sharing a random struggle or experience that doesn’t connect in any way with your profile can be jarring and not accomplish the same level of connection as opening up about an experience that’s related to your social media persona.
2. Tell Your Brand Story
Authenticity doesn’t just have to apply to lifestyle accounts or your personal story. Opening up about your personal style or favorite products or latest sponsored partnership can give consumers a peek into your world and feel more connected to your brand story.
Andrea and Robert Tuckers at @lfieldsshoppe do exactly that. These influencers in Vancouver, BC, run London Fields Shoppe and started posting back in the mid-200s. They say that changing consumer trends means people are more and more mindful of what they buy. The couple use their Instagram feed to open up and tell the story about specific vintage items, or where they source a specific product, or the story behind a local craftsperson.
3. Don’t Flood the Feed
On a panel at the Code/Mobile technology conference, Kim Kardashian was transparent about her own take on oversharing. She talked about how she’s always posting her day-by-day activities, and often has a camera crew documenting every little thing she does.
She says her oversharing is exactly why she’s an Instagram star, noting that her audience “want to vicariously live through what they see our lives to be. And then they feel this strong closeness. We’re so open — so I think there’s some kind of connection.”
However, even the queen of oversharing says she’s careful not to share too much. Her rule is to not share more than three images of herself in a single location. She says she caps it at this number because she’s found that anything more than that will bore her audience.
If you’re trying to determine whether you should post that photo or story, consider these questions:
- Have I already posted about this in the last 24 hours? If so, watch your engagement numbers to start determining at what point your audience starts to hit social media fatigue.
- Can I save this photo for a later time and recycle the idea?
4. Consider Privacy Concerns
Instagram influencer Monika Hibbs runs a lifestyle page that routinely revolves around her family, including her toddlers. “My children are my whole life, I couldn’t imagine not sharing them,” she says in an interview with the Vancouver Sun. “My brand is ‘lifestyle’ and I think it’s completely OK to include them in my story on social media. I share moments with them, items that I love … that lots of other moms love to learn about. It’s a great way to connect with other moms, and to, of course, keep it real.”
However, being a parent means Hibbs is also aware of the dangers of oversharing.
“I certainly don’t share everything and I think there are some things that should be kept very private,” she says. “We’ve had some pretty big things happen that I don’t think I’ll ever share on social media. I open up to people whom I can seek wisdom from — I don’t look to social media to help or solve my problems.”
“I know the dangers of posting a photo of my son’s bare bum on Instagram,” she warns. “You will never find that on my feed. I have trained myself to always be conscious during my experience and not miss the moment by trying to get that perfect photo and caption for your audience.”
One way Hibbs balances being open about her family’s life while also safeguarding her family’s privacy is by having two accounts. Her personal account is private and reserved for close friends and family, and allows her to share more intimate moments without worrying about oversharing with the hundreds of thousands of followers on her public page.
5. Think of the Long Term Outcomes
Once you share something on social media, it can live on and on, long after you might have deleted the post. This is a lesson many people learn only after getting dropped in a job interview or fired by a sponsor.
Always maintain a filter and ask yourself: Could this ever come back to harm my reputation or my brand?
This is especially true when it comes to things like politics or relationships. You may want to create an internal rule to draft a post then give it a day before publishing. This allows any emotions or feelings that could be clouding your judgment to dissipate so you can think with more clarity about whether or not you should post it.
Brands are always looking for people with open and authentic lifestyles. If this article inspired you to think of new approaches to your content, join #ThePaidCrew community and start partnering with world-class brands.
By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv. Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.