Podcast: Being More Authentic Online, with Kirsty Hall

08 Oct 2010

NYC: Street Dancing 2
Image by Professor Bop, via Flickr



In this show:

Kirsty Hall and I talk about what it means to be more authentic online - whether it's in your blog posts, tweets, or Facebook updates.

• How does authenticity lead people to trust you - and when can it turn them away? What impact does it have on a small craft business?

• Is there anything you really shouldn't share online? .

Please Note: Some of the content in this podcast may not be suitable for young listeners.


• Visit Kirsty at her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Kirsty also mentioned these bloggers:

• Catherine Caine's take on Why "Professional Does Not Mean "Corporate"

• Havi Brooks talks about your right people, and people throwing shoes.

Kate Davis blogs about her experiences recovering from an unexpected stroke.


Thank you for such a pertinent conversation! Just last week I met with a friend who is trying to help me with marketing. I told her that my biggest hang-up with both my blog and facebook is that I'm not sure how to translate my everyday moments, new products, and business updates into authentic online media. I'm quite personable in person...but tend to loose that and get anxious and therefore cheesy when it comes to relating via social media. This podcast was encouraging and fun to listen to. Great timing as well! Thanks for sharing. --Megan

It is tough, Megan. It's definitely a skill and one that improves with practice.

I like that take, Alice - there are personal events that are rather mundane, and personal events that are interesting, funny, or have some inspiring quality. I tend not to read a blog that goes too much to the mundane as well.

Great conversation...I think Kirsty really touched on all the points that plague us from being totally authentic online...those few seconds or minutes of pause we take...wondering if we should delete, delete, delete! I think there's a difference between the level of detail we want to share versus being authentic. You certainly do not have to reveal all to be authentic...we must be comfortable with what we share. What we are comfortable with...really does say something about who we are in the end.

Boy, absolutely - I definitely delete a handful of tweets each day before I send them. (My struggles with my phone company or my sore knees may be authentic, but they aren't always appropriate to share.)

You make a great point about comfort, Linda. And I think in most cases, too, our inner compass will tell us when it might be wise to share something outside that comfort-zone. Some of us will do this more than others - everyone's authenticity looks different, after all.

What fascinating times!

I often delete tweets before I send them, Linda. I read things over and think, 'is this boring or whiny?' and if it is, I delete it and either rewrite it or just don't say it. That's sort of what I mean about it being a performance, yes it's me on Twitter but it's a slightly edited and considered version of me.

Interesting...I delete also sometimes...although I think for many, Twitter is so quick and easy, editing isn't even in the process :) hehe

Interesting point this brings up for me, Kirsty - maybe social media helps give us all better editorial skills over time - which in turn helps us appreciate editorial skills more. Maybe this has implications later on for things like monetizing blogs and other online publications. Once we can all see a good editor at work, we may become more willing to chip in for their talents?

Great discussion. Kirsty, everything you say makes so much sense and I think you share just the right amount. (You too, Diane, but we're talkin' about your guest here :-))

Kirsty, I'm not sure if this is the blog you were referring to about the loss of a mother, but it's a beautifully written one, called 100 Days of Normal, that I've been following: http://craftyrichela.blogspot.com/

Yes, that was the one, Ann - thanks for linking to it. I couldn't remember it when Diane and I were talking.

Wow, you're in a really interesting situation in terms of authenticity. I think you've expressed really well how each person's unique circumstances will shape their way of being authentic. The communities we build around us each have their own boundaries, so "authentic" really does mean something different for each of us.

Thank you so much for commenting here!

I think it can do. I know I'm a better writer than I was 3 years ago, mostly because of blogging but also through using social media. I relish the harsh discipline of tweeting in 140 characters. Saying something interesting, funny or profound in such a short space is like writing haiku.

Thanks so much, Cheryl - I'm glad you enjoyed it! Humility is a very nice way to characterize what we were discussing - a way of saying, "yes, we're all human." :-)

Amazing! I will totally check these out. Thank you for all of this information. It makes me hopeful, inspired and gives me a good kick in the butt! I forwarded your site on to some of my friends who are just getting into the crafty scene. It's a staple for me and will be helpful for them too --Megan

I listened to this on the way to to my classes today and I think people must have thought I was nuts. I couldn't stop laughing. It was a great chat. I have gone back and forth about how open I am about myself on my blog. Now that I have stepped back out of the corporate world per se, it feels easier to open up more, but I still have my moments!

Glad it made you laugh, Stacy. I think the thing everyone needs to do is work out exactly where their own boundaries lie - and accept that sometimes you will think 'boy, I wish I hadn't written THAT!'

Great topic, not very controversial to me, only interesting and very important! I can't imagine holding back my opinions to be liked and to get people to buy more of my collages... I am who I am, I think that shows online too. Thanks!

I agree, Hanna - your genuine voice is one of the (many) charms of your blog. I've always liked being able to see your ups and downs, especially because you also share how making art and craft help you through them.

That's why I subscribe to you blog, Hanna, you do have a lovely, authentic voice already. :)

How awesome that you're thinking so deeply about these issues. It is a tricky subject and there's no one right answer, it's a balance that every single person online has to find for themselves.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this show, Marcy. I think that there's room in the world for a myriad of views on this subject, and that your take on it is equally as valid as Kirsty's. Ultimately, each of us needs to approach authenticity in a way that feels most comfortable to us.

Thanks for commenting Macy. I do agree with Diane that there are many valid views on this subject.

Some people do indeed choose not to support what they see as 'pro-homosexual' businesses and I have no problem with them choosing what to buy based on their personal ethics. If someone chooses to support or not support businesses because those businesses line up with their ethics, that's fine with me even if the ethics in question are not my own.

Please understand, it's not that I'm biased against religious people, in most cases I don't care at all what someone believes. However, if I knew for a fact that someone was actively supporting anti-homosexual groups or campaigning for anti-homosexual legislation, then no, I wouldn't personally choose to support that person with my money no matter how cute their stuff was. I didn't buy South African oranges in the 80's either.

I'm also not running around demanding to know what people think. Again, I don't really care. However, if they do happen to make it very obvious, well, I will act according to my own principles.

An interesting podcast! I just randomly clicked one of your podcasts and am listening to it while I sit and sew. It's a few years old, but still relevant!

When I started blogging (in '06), I never imagined putting something personal online - it was just a spot for me to talk about craft projects. Over the years, I've definitely gotten more comfortable sharing things - it may not show explicitly in my posts, but when I'm writing, I hesitate less to put more of "myself" in what I write.

At one point, I started to notice what you mentioned - how much "perfection" I see out there! It was a little disturbing at first, but like an air-brushed photo, I realized there's so much editing being done - we only put out what we want others to see.

Since there's no universal definition of "authentic" in this arena, I'd say my definition would be "honest sharing". When I run across a site that is purely "here's my craft - go and buy it" - that turns me off. Smothering political and religious ideology also do that to me, but I can respect other people's opinions, and choose to not visit their site again also.

Thanks for the great listen.

This is a great comment to read this morning, as I'm prepping for a video chat and worrying incessantly about what parts of my office are showing up in the background of my video. :-) I think it's interesting how, as a general rule, the more perfect and aspirational a blog looks, the more readers it draws. I think we all love the mythology, no matter how fake it starts to seem over time. Still, there's nothing more comforting to me than when a blogger who's been mostly sharing perfection gives me a glimpse of her actual, messy life. (We ALL have lives that are messy in some domain.)

...So I guess I'll quit worrying about my office. :-)