If you are somewhat new to social media for your personal brand and / or firm, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Everything you’ve read from “experts” and so-called social media gurus – every blog post, every “helpful” tweet, all of it – is wrong. Completely and totally wrong.

While you can get into Advanced Social Media once you’ve mastered the basics like changing your Twitter egg avatar to a real picture, all the analytics, engagement and Klout points in the world won’t matter if you miss one fundamental rule: authenticity.

I feel guilty when I’m on a social media panel in front of a roomful of CPAs and am asked about my successes in social media. The first thing I have to disclaim is that what works for me most likely will not work for most in the crowd.

Then why in the heck do they even ask me to be on those panels?

Here’s the one thing no “guru” will ever tell you: Without authenticity, your social media plan is doomed. And that fact is no different for me than it is for the accounting professional looking to break out on Twitter.

Granted, as mentioned, what works for me likely will not work for you. I get to swear and post pictures of my cats, but that’s because I am not client-facing. I’m assuming that you are, but that doesn’t change the importance of authenticity in your social media efforts.

Sure, you can blindly post link after link, but you’re missing the “social” component of social media – you know, the thing that makes you a person and not a corporation. Even if you are a corporation, there’s something to be said for being human.

Case in point: the Cat Say Bosh campaign by Baltimore-based accounting firm Katz Abosch. I mean, if you’re going to get to the heart of the Internet, using cats to your advantage might just be the way to go since the Internet is made of cats.

You could go to countless social media seminars and read all of the “guru”-penned articles you want, but if you aren’t practicing true authenticity in your social media campaigns, I assure you you’re missing the mark.

The “social” in “social media” means that your firm or personal brand can be related to, that it’s a real person or set of values perpetuated across the Internet abyss. Unless you’re prepared to be real, you might as well ignore the pleas of Internet evangelists like the MACPA’s own fearless leader, Tom Hood, and cower behind your keyboard waiting for the future to slap you upside the head.

Are you ready to get real? Because that’s what clients are looking for – the human being(s) behind the campaigns, the soul that drives a practice, the values that make a business worth working with. Social media hasn’t changed this, really, but if you’re going to branch out into that frontier, you’d better be prepared to show a few weaknesses and accept responsibility for campaigns gone wrong.

Is it a little scary? Of course it is. But if you do it right, you’ll find clients and fans you never expected who appreciate that you are willing to put your real self on the line instead of tip-toeing on eggshells, hoping not to offend anyone on an avenue that is intended to be candid and not stuffy.

So what are you so afraid of?

Loading