Genuine Authenticity. Or Not.

On Being “Authentic”

I worked with Scott Rosenberg at in the late ’90s and I often read his Wordyard blog where he shares his sharp insight on the social aspects of technology.This week he shared an interview with Jeff Pooley, who has written an essay about the “authenticity bind” and “calculated authenticity.”
In my experience, such warping of truth and trust – which is more tied to advertising and marketing than to social media as a whole – derives from a cynical view of the public. In the pre-Web days authenticity was attributed to individuals. Did they behave online as they did in the flesh? Or did they invent roles – personas – that were intentionally fabricated to fool other community members and allow them to act out in the guise of someone else?

Of course, half-truths have been the stock and trade of advertising for decades, but social media as used today by marketing professionals, allows businesses to personalize themselves. Smart agencies understand that – as the Clue Train Manifesto taught us – “markets are conversations.” The subsequent question became, “are businesses conversing authentically?”

Scott’s interview goes deeper on that question (he’s writing a book about it) and it’s worth a read. Authenticity – true, not calculated – is an ideal from the customer’s point of view. But how many businesses can pull it off and achieve genuine authenticity?