You’ve heard the advice for the past several years. Business experts around the globe continue to tell owners to be authentic and transparent. Don’t hide anything and be yourself. While this is great advice and a sure-fire way to forge connections with your audience, you can be too authentic and transparent. You can share and show too much.

In the world of social media where every tweet and utterance is instantly spread globally and can never be retracted, there’s a risk to sharing too much. Some have taken the words “authenticity and transparency” as permission to share everything. The business owner who neglects to set aside emotions and tweets about a troublesome client, isn’t doing themselves or their business any good.

Additionally, all this talk about being transparent and authentic has created a wave of personalities – business owners who create exaggerated caricatures of themselves in order to attract an audience. This approach often backfires. Your audience may not be able to relate to such an exaggeration and you may confuse them and lose them. (And it’s stressful to try to continually be someone you’re not.)

When my friend Terry Green posted this on Facebook, “When people on Facebook keep telling me and showing me how successful and/or rich they are all the time, it makes me wonder who they are actually trying to convince … me or themselves?” Well, I HAD to chime in. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. The virtual world may be big, but it’s a very small world and don’t be fooled into thinking that people don’t talk. Because they do – whether it’s a bad experience with a VA or a coach who is teaching ‘how to be rich’ when they are, in fact, bankrupt. Online reputations do count.

So How Do You Walk the Line? How Much Transparency and Authenticity Is Enough?

#1 Make it simple

Create and embrace an authentic message that’s easy for your audience to process and understand. You might start with the vision or mission of your business and go from there. It doesn’t need to be complicated or convoluted. It should ideally be simple, honest, and genuine. Who are you, why are you in business and what do you have to say?

#2 What makes you special?

You have a unique brand, something that is special and that your prospects will relate to. Embrace what makes you special and share that with the world.

#3 Plan

As a business owner you have a responsibility to your audience and to yourself to plan what you’re going to say. Be strategic about it. Only share information that is valuable and beneficial to your audience. Religiously adhere to your plan and do not deviate. Don’t let the urge to post something get you into trouble. A content and social media plan will help you gain some control over those wayward thoughts and willing typing fingers. And for gosh sake, don’t LIE and be something you are not. People can see through that in no time flat.

Finally, if you feel the urge to share something via social media (and that includes writing it in an email or commenting on a blog), write it down on a piece of paper first. Walk away for thirty minutes and think about it. Does the comment offer value? Does it embrace your brand and your vision? Does it represent the image you want the world to see – the transparent and authentic you? If not, crumple up that piece of paper and throw it away like a bad idea.