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I wrote a piece recently about selfies and the humblebrag, and it really got me thinking about how brands should approach the art of the humblebrag. Is it ever acceptable?

If you’re reading this and aren’t familiar with what a humblebrag is, it’s basically socially acceptable bragging online. It’s false modesty at its best.

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When done poorly it’s very transparent, the false modesty shining straight through to the braggadocio. When done well it’s subtle and confident. But even when it’s done well, isn’t bragging a negative trait?

Not necessarily. We brag all of the time in real life, but in real life we have social cues to convey subtleties that dispossess bragging of some of its cockiness. Bragging online doesn’t allow for external social cues or even the space to cushion a boast with other sentiments.

You can point to the proliferation of starting boasts with phrases like “So this happened” or “Whoa” as an example of how there’s a constantly evolving tendency to try and downplay our achievements while still bringing attention to them.

Here’s what I think. If your brand has something to boast about online, BOAST. Don’t be a dick about it, and only do it when the situation truly warrants it. That is, if you’ve done something only few have done or that provides immense value to others.

If your brand is proud of its achievements then say you are and why. We’re allowed to feel proud of ourselves. When you mask bragging with fake modesty online all you’re doing is belittling your audience’s intelligence. And believe me, they know. If your brand #humblebrags often you’ll be seen as in-authentic.

Even better, let others boast on your behalf. In most cases, anything truly worthy of a boast – something others will actually find value in – will be boasted about by your friends and followers. In my opinion, this is the best rule to stick to.

Let your followers be your Social Wingmen/Wingwomen

You’ve all been there. You’re out with close friends and meet a new group. Your interested in getting to know someone better so you let your friend know so they can “wing”. Great wingmen validate you in-front of others. They brag about you.

“Hey…haaaaave you met Ted? He’s the city’s best architect.”

In Social Media analytics we use stats like Positive Mentions per Thousand vs Negative Mentions per Thousands or Sentiment Analysis to see the amount of positive or negative validation your brand is receiving online.

Every little compliment is validation. You shouldn’t have to brag often. Then you can truly be humbled by all of the praise, just make sure to thank those who bragged on your behalf.