Social media has established itself as a powerhouse both in business and in society. With this wide adoption has come a secondary problem, fake profiles. Now I am not talking about just bots, I am also talking about profiles that are simply not accurate. A complete digital society of inaccurate reality exists and skews real life interactions and connections. The key is figuring out where things went wrong.
The Ingredients of Social Media Profiles
Social media is really digital society. Our profiles and our communications make up a digital world that crosses over to the real world. The problem is that lies in the digital world end up becoming real problems in the real world. Catfishing and fake profiles on business networks like Linkedin can cost people heartache and even huge losses in money. Here is a breakdown of how each of these ingredients of social media contributes to a false reality.
The first thing people see when they check out your profile is your profile image. They make a ton of micro judgments in a few split seconds of seeing your profile. They are gauging things like trust, value, strength, ethics, and more. Often many of these judgments are in no way accurate, nor do they represent what is real about that person. Regardless we form these opinions based on the profile.
Because people know that they will get more attention, followers, and even business if they look a certain way, we have gone beyond making a good first impression to flat out misrepresentation. The phenomenon of catfishing where people pretend to be someone else while online when making relationships is the natural extension of this aspirational desire to be something more than we are.
People get so sucked into wanting to get the best responses to their profiles that they actually use an image of someone else. They aren’t thinking that if the relationship goes somewhere that at some time they will have to come clean if they meet the person in real life. Obviously if it is a freelance or online only relationship as in business people may be emboldened to use other people’s image. You see this on Linkedin where there are profiles that look too perfect.
Now we get to the description where people embellish and lie. Rarely do people attempt to validate any of the information in a profile. All of the sudden, everyone went to Harvard, and was the top salesperson at their company if they even worked there.
The problem is bios are filled with descriptive words. When you know things won’t or can’t be verified you will tend to give yourself a little more credit than you deserve. Add to that, the fact that there are direct results tied to what you say. It can easily go from being creative to being fraudulent.
As more people embellish their bios, the bar is raised and breaking through the noise becomes harder and harder. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stand out, build your personal brand, and differentiate yourself, but there is almost no line between that and fake profiles.
When the person who benefits from the information is the one writing it, it becomes hard to trust it. The bottom line is it is no different than regulating agencies having ex-employees from the companies they are regulating working in the regulating agency. The fox can’t guard the hen house. You simply have to know when you read a bio that it is not likely accurate.
How do you sum up yourself in 3 sentences and 2 hashtags? The answer is you don’t. Even if everything goes right and the person who is authoring their own bio tries to be as accurate as possible, you really aren’t going to get to know them through a handful of words. This is why we built MobiLine app on the foundation of video.
The Role of Video
There is no place to hide with video. One of the same reasons people were slow to adopt livestreaming is it exposes everything. What it really does is keep things real. You know when you watch a video of someone who they really are. The more you watch them, the more you pick up on so much information.
We know that the majority of information is non-verbal in communication. Images don’t allow this much of this, and text even less. Video gives nuance, tone, mannerisms, and many other things. Trust is a major factor when developing a relationships in both business and personally.
Video allows high information density. That sounds complicated, but it just means that in a 15 second video you probably get as much information about a person as you would reading 3 pages of text. This helps users in a distracted world get to know a possible connection so much faster than traditional bios with pictures and text. This facilitates faster filtering and selection.
Technology should enhance relationship management and connections. As we wrote in our post on video humanizing technology, these formats should be used to connect people not separate from them. Video holds the key to create live connections in real-time even though you can’t be there. It enables you to also screen people virtually without having to waste all the time to meet someone in real life only to know after 10 seconds that you are not interested in connecting with them.
What can you do?
Let people be comfortable meeting you in real life because you online profile is as close to who you are as possible. Authenticity actually makes you stand out in a world of fakes. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to puff up your profile or use the picture from 10 years ago when you were younger. Present yourself in a way that allows you to be appreciated by the people who will love the real you.