We all chase the viral video or post that will get us noticed. There’s one thing that works better than others: authenticity.
I experienced this recently when I created a TikTok video to promote The Remainders, which was selected as Book of the Day by Ereader News Today. I could have done the typical “buy my book” spamming you often see on social media. But the announcement came on July 12, 2022—the thirtieth anniversary of my mom’s death. I couldn’t celebrate that great moment of my writing career without noting this painful event. So, this was the video I came up with.
I’m not some big influencer, so I didn’t expect millions of views. But this video got (and continues to get) more views and likes than any of my other recent videos. The difference is that I was being real with my audience and letting them know how I feel.
We don’t get a lot of honesty in our media these days. I recently watched an interview with a US Senator who answered difficult questions with unrelated pre-planned talking points. Others think they can project sincerity by shouting the same thing over and over until they fake cry on cue. Authenticity can’t be faked.
Authenticity requires three things: honesty, vulnerability, and humility. Those things go together. You must let down your guard to confide with an audience, and that makes you vulnerable. And you must recognize the truth won’t put you in a flattering light. That requires humility. You must also be humble enough not to expect anything from your listeners. They might reject you, or not even believe you. Ultimately, the listener decides whether you’re authentic or not.
I don’t have any metrics to determine how many book sales I got from my video. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I had something to get off my chest. And if people listened to and were touched by it, I’ve accomplished my objective. The goal of all communication, whether it is a TikTok video or a novel, is connection. The best way to make that connection is through authenticity.