Today’s guest post is written by Eric Wittlake.

Be Authentic.

A chorus of advisors and consultants that have beaten the authentic drum in recent years.

It only takes a brief look at the world around us to realize we really don’t want to see authentic in social media. What we really want is something carefully constructed, with enough personality and individuality to look real instead of robotic.

Before you jump back on the authentic bandwagon, consider what a real authentic social media presence would reflect.

Corporations Serve Shareholders First

Yes, some will say corporations should serve their clients, their community, and their employees. However, beyond ideological arguments, the justification for these positions comes back to creating a profitable long-term business.

Good corporate citizenship is ultimately about good corporate results. If corporations didn’t believe it could serve long-term shareholders, most companies would not respond to customer service complaints on Twitter or develop communities on Facebook.

The bottom line of ROI is the corporation’s income, not our satisfaction.

“Authentic” would tell us discounts are designed to increase revenue, profits, executive compensation, and shareholder dividends by convincing us to spend more. As individuals, we want to believe we are important, that a deal is a great opportunity for us.

We don’t want to be reminded that your business isn’t in business to serve us.

Real People Lie, Cheat, and Steal

People have been criminals and cons for as long as history has been recorded. Turn on the news any night, in any city big or small, and you will see a side of people you don’t want to like on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Criminals, cons, ponzi schemes, spam bots… There are real people behind every one of these. In social media, we rail against these self-serving manifestations of authenticity at the same time we blindly call for authenticity!

Authentic Means Showing ALL Your Flaws

Companies carefully craft an image for themselves. Today, that image often allows personality and distinction to show through, but that does not make it authentic. It is carefully crafted to project a certain image of your company.

Cindy Crawford proudly displayed her signature mole as part of a crafted image of herself. Her mole created an element of distinction for her, but her entire image was carefully crafted with makeup, hair, lighting, photography and likely, photo touchup as well.

Like your social media presence, this is part of a projected image, not an authentic one.

In Summary

We don’t want to see the authentic you in social media. So put on your face. Project your carefully constructed image. Just never let us see the real spirit behind your activity.

Always remember: Your audience is ruthless. If you are authentic and display your true motives, we will call you a jerk. If you carefully project your image and then slip up, we will call you a fake. So project your image and always stay in character.

Eric Wittlake is an B2B marketer and blogger. You can find Eric on Twitter @wittlake or on his blog, B2B Digital Marketing, when he isn’t working with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins.

Lead image: Creative commons, commercial use allowed with attribution

Bicycle image: Eric Wittlake