Transparency, Authenticity, and Sticking to Your Values - A Company's Social Media Journey
If there is only one thing to notice most about my blog, it’s that I am bluntly honest and very forthcoming - a largely intimidating factor for potential employers.
So here is a little non-fiction story for you:
Back in September 2018, I drove down from Big Sky, Montana to Salt Lake to complete a number of interviews that I had lined up, one was specifically with Bean Trailers, a fairly new and unestablished company in the world of comfort travel luxury. I was prepared: printed resume in hand, questions to ask those interviewing me, etc. It took about ten minutes for the interview to take a sudden left turn into horror; the owner of the company, while I was in mid-sentence, interrupted me: “how would you represent Bean personally?” This unfolded into him very unclearly trying to get to the point that he thought I was too bold as an individual to take on the public role as the social media rep for Bean. While I continuously explained that my personal life does not and would not interfere with the company’s presence on social media, he wouldn’t take the time to listen to the fact that I value honesty, transparency, and authenticity - aspects that I still very much believe companies should be striving to achieve.
I cried, in the room where I was being interviewed, after the owner left. It had gone from an interview to a straight up personal attack on me, leaving his HR rep to apologize to me for him. “I am so sorry, this was not how it was supposed to go. He can be a little rough around the edges.” Soon after that, I began to go back and forth in my share settings of my social media platforms, which to this day remain on private. The person they did hire to rep the company on social media is a Grade-A sellout, so they were clearly looking for a specific kind of individual and I obviously scared them.
. . .
Social media is a great opportunity to voice one’s opinion, however what comes with that is the public’s judgement. Fine, so be it. I would rather be remembered as some who stood up for the things she believed were just, fair, and right, than to be another person so easily influenced by the lies fabricated on these platforms to gain more popularity.
While I have had my Instagram since I was age sixteen, I have only been transparent with it within the last ten years, mainly because as I age, my values become increasingly more set in stone, and you can read it right there on my bio: “authenticity > algorithm”. As a teenager, I was literally posting about food and friends and snowboarding without knowing what the hell a hashtag did. I applaud the companies that decline me because of this, I wouldn’t want to represent them anyways; I am not willing to play into the false reality that real-time effects peoples’ lives. You should feel inspired and connected by real stories, not by the girl living out of her van with her creative writing degree who covers up the realities of her life so that she remains a public icon.
It is no hidden fact that a company’s social media presence plays (well, can play) a huge role in their annual sales; we watch products trend so hard that their supply/demand ratio gets thrown completely out of whack, which can be really awesome for startup companies, but it can also be fatal when bigger companies catch on and start sourcing or creating their own version of said product. It’s a fragile ecosystem, sales and marketing. This to me is why it is crucial that companies stick to their values and how they want to be portrayed, so that none of it can come back to bite them in the ass. Nothing is more frustrating that watching a company stick their own foot in their mouth, especially when you’re a loyal customer.
If you have a story that you want told, and you want it told right, you need to bring someone in who will passionately bring that value to life in this day and age. This ranges from blog posts to video content to copywriting - say it like you mean it and leave those behind who can’t handle it! That only can be a very scary thing to stick to as a company, especially one that needs business to stay afloat, aka most of the outdoor industry.
Here is what I hope you takeaway from this: take a chance. No one ever accomplished anything good without being a little scared to do it in the first place.