What it Really Means to be Authentic on Instagram

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Authenticity on social media platforms is a sizzling, and possibly saturated, topic in the modern world, and even more so in the modern yoga world. Marrying the desire to boost your profile and gain followers with the need to show and just be you, flaws and all, is a challenging conundrum. Finding the right balance can take precious time and plenty of trial and error. The idea of ‘finding your voice,’ on social media seems at odds with the very premise of authenticity. While the ever so popular ‘your vibe attracts your tribe,’ essentially is an invitation to be yourself and allow your community to appear. Yet in reality, crafting the perfect vibe to attract your ideal tribe is a whole different ball game.

Why is it so hard to just be ourselves? Why are we so self-conscious about what we want to share? Why do we feel the need to compare ourselves and be more than our ‘competition?’ Why is being vulnerable so challenging? How do we know what to share and at the same time, what to keep private? Does being authentic really mean bearing it all? Luckily, no.

The ‘experts’ say that maintaining authenticity on social media is essential to growing your following, selling your products and developing a loyal community. But what does it really mean to be authentic? Let’s dive beyond the filters and #realtalk and look at how you can truly show up on Instagram in a way that supports you and your business.

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Ditch the Highlight Reel

Instagram offers us a platform to meticulously showcase our life with curated images and glossy filters. As we all know, Instagram is often a highlight reel of our lives- the best moments scripted, enhanced, captioned, tagged and pinned. It’s rather exhausting just thinking about the next post, isn’t it? Being authentic on Instagram means walking against the crowd and, dare I say it, exposing the less glamorous moments as well. Showing your community what goes on in your everyday life is actually refreshing. Perfect asana pose after perfect asana pose gets boring. People love the nitty gritty, the ‘flawed’ moments, the makeup-free, heart-touching, real moments that really make life what it is. Let go of the need to have the perfect feed and make it a genuine feed. Your community will respect you and relate to you more for doing so.

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Expose the Ups and Downs  (not just through emojis 😜)

Deviating from the highlight reel also means having the courage to show up as you are. We are not always overflowing with inspiration and gratitude. Life in its very essence presents us with challenges and plays havoc with our emotions. Sharing your trials and tribulations (without overindulging) helps you to become more of a three-dimensional human being.  Whether you’re sleep deprived, jet-lagged, overworked, heart broken- these are emotional states we can all relate to! It can be a common belief, especially in the yoga world, that we have to remain positive 100% of the time. Your followers and community will appreciate your honesty and when you are not being authentic, that falsity shines through. Sure, we don’t want our feed to be a visual diary of woes and misfortune!  Yet don’t edit your life in fear of your community not being supportive of your challenging times. You may be surprised what happens when you share from your heart.

Come Clean on Paid Posts

Hundreds of millions of marketing dollars are poured into Instagram every year. Sponsored posts, paid posts, affiliate marketing- you may be surprised to learn just how much of your feed is curated by savvy marketing teams, designed to lure you into handing over both your time and money. If you are being paid by companies or businesses to post, it is a good idea to be upfront and honest about it. You can say that you honestly do use and love the products you are advertising, but you are also being financially supported for sharing your opinion with your community. With SO much sponsored advertising on Instagram, it can also be worthwhile mentioning when you are not being paid to post; when you are sharing a product simply because you do love it. You community will value your honesty and also feel that they can trust that your recommendations do come from a genuine place and are not just lining your piggy bank.

Ditch the (Excessive) Filters

A little saturation here and a little highlighting there is no big deal- we all succumb to the power of filters. Just be mindful when you are filtering your images not to go overboard. You can choose a gentle filter as a way of curating your feed and adding consistency to your posts. Draw the line at making yourself appear as a distant relative to who you really are! Again, your community appreciate when you show up as yourself- pimples, bags under eyes and bad hair days- they greet us all! As yoga teachers and practitioners, we have a responsibility to help people feel comfortable and love the skin they are in. Constantly enhancing or disguising ourselves is hypocritical. When we show up as we are, we encourage others to do the same. Start your own revolution.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Instagram has quickly become a rather unpoliced pool of content that is up for grabs. While Instagram fuels creativity and individuality, it is also a breeding ground for copycat mentality and plagiarism. If you use someone’s image, credit them in the caption and image. If you use someone’s quote, credit them. If you are inspired by another feed- be it an asana photo, a workshop idea, a retreat location, a yoga sequence- tagging them in the post and sharing how they inspired you will only grow your following and gain the respect of your community. When we rip off ideas, pictures and other people’s words, we are not practicing the ethics and values of yoga. Ideas are often recycled. Look at the world of art, fashion or music. Being truthful about your sources is always a safe idea, getting caught out later is humiliating and harmful to your credibility.

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Utilize Instagram Stories

If you do love keeping a clean and stylized feed, use stories to offer more authentic glimpses into your day to day life. Stories only last for 24 hours (unless you save them to your profile), so you have the freedom to share images and videos that are not necessarily perfect. Offer your followers a look into what lights you up throughout the day, who you are spending time with, what you are working on right now, where you are in the world. Stories are fun and catchy, they are unedited and raw, perhaps they are what Instagram feeds used to be?! Either way, utilize this new feature to share your thoughts, what you’re making for dinner, or what your home yoga space looks like.  Don’t be afraid to ask your viewers what they want you to share with them. This is a great space to open new dialogue and two-way engagement..

Quality Over Quantity

We feel an overwhelming need to post all the time. In reality, try to be mindful of quality over quantity. Only post when you have something of real value to share. Posting for the sake of posting is often done unconsciously and with little intention or plan. Offering your community, a handful of authentic, thoughtful posts throughout the week will be far more effective than posting meaningless content three times a day. If you are truly looking to build your business profile and following, make a content plan and be savvy in your long term execution.

What Does Bio Say About You?

Reiki Master? Yoga Professional? Cacao Maestro? Palladian Priestess? Our bio is a place to offer a super short and snappy insight as to who we are and what we offer. Being authentic in our bio doesn’t mean stoking our ego. It means offering our qualifications and passions in an honest way. Feel free to be a little quirky here, let your unique personality shine. Think of what you feel is most important to share with the people that find your page. Include a link to your website, or if you have workshops, retreats, blogs etc, use linktree as a way to direct people to the various places they can work with and hear more from you. As for your profile image, be mindful here. That photo of you doing the splits in your bikini may work- but if this is your business page, consider having a more professional headshot.

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Admit You Don’t Know Everything

Even if we studied yoga for our entire lifetime, we couldn’t possibly grasp all there is to learn. Even as teachers, we don’t need to pretend to have all the answers, because we don’t! Whether you are an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced teacher, or if you are just starting out your journey as a teacher or practitioner, it is ok to admit when you are not sure of something. Share what you are confident about. If a student asks you something you don’t feel competent in answering on social media, try and direct them to someone you know is more knowledgeable and experienced in that field. Even building a community of professionals and practitioners around you that you can collaborate with and go to with questions is a great way to learn, connect and share business. Remember that the best teachers are the ones that always remain students too.

Show the Journey

Instagram takes away the journey behind each image. So when it comes to yoga, having a feed of perfect asana poses is only half the story. Feel comfortable sharing your steps to each pose. Try using the carousel option to keep your favorite version of the pose on your feed, but allowing your community to swipe and see the steps it took for you to get there! Show yourself toppling out of a handstand or reaching a half bind before you make a full bind in a pose. No one just falls into advanced asana poses effortlessly- we work for them, and showing this work to your tribe helps inspire them on their journey also. Just as you won’t always have all the answers, your journey through yoga is never complete. Rather than only posting your advanced and finely tuned poses on Instagram, sharing the journey makes you more relatable, authentic and honest. And hey, some of those #yogaspills are pretty darn amusing too.

Need a little more inspiration?! Check out our top 10 favourite yogi’s on Instagram here.

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What it Really Means to be Authentic on Instagram

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About Brandon

Former corporate sales rep turned nomadic entrepreneurial yogi. Street food ninja, avid outdoorsman, craft beer geek, and live music junkie. Co-founder of The Yoga Nomads.

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