Imposter Syndrome in Social Media Marketing: What Is It, Who Does It Affect, and How Can You Overcome It? — SocialDay (2022)

Imposter Syndrome (IS) is a term first coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes as the ‘Imposter Phenomenon’ in 1978. According to VeryWell Mind it:

Refers to an internal experience of believing you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.

Research shows that up to 82% of people across a wide range of demographics struggle with imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. This universal belief that as professionals, we’re not good enough, have tricked the people around us into believing a lie, and will soon be found out for our inadequacies (despite plenty of evidence pointing to the contrary) is prevalent among social media marketers.

“Imposter syndrome has been a constant companion throughout my professional career, although I didn’t learn what it was until a few years ago.” says Esme Rice, Marketing Director at Tailify. “It manifests itself in the smallest things, such as adding “Oh but I don’t know if that makes sense” after I’ve just made a point that I know makes perfect sense. But it can create bigger problems and disrupt your entire career if not kept in check. I think the biggest challenge it poses for me is questioning myself and lacking confidence in the work I have done.”

Social media is a massive community and as marketers/managers, your role is to place yourself at its forefront every day. The expectation is not only to stay up to date with the hundreds of the latest trends, but to be able to get ahead of those trends for the benefit of your clients or brand.

  • When you think of it as performing in front of 4.48 billion people with your boss standing behind you waiting on a standing ovation, the stage-fright is understandable.

    (Video) What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it? - Elizabeth Cox

On social media platforms, even as a casual user, it’s all too easy to fall into the paranoia that you’re only as valuable as the amount of followers you have. But for those whom social media is their profession, this feeling is magnified tenfold. When your stats don’t match your expertise, especially as a freelancer, it’s instinctive to question your worth.

Not to mention many still brand social media and its careers as easier or more fun than other professions, without realising the immense pressure of managing communities, running successful campaigns, and the like.

  • The role of social media marketers in business is consistently undervalued because not all business owners fully understand the potential of these platforms.

One of the most common pieces of advice people in general struggling with this psychological pattern tend to hear is ‘fake it till you make it’. This feeds into the idea that if you keep pretending you’re capable in your role, everyone around you will start believing that you are and you will too... eventually.

While helpful for some, for others the phrasing of this maxim only intensifies those feelings of being a fraud. What’s possibly a better way of framing the advice is: practice makes progress or learn on the job. Nobody new to a role is fully competent. There’s no such thing as overnight experts and it takes several years to build a broad knowledge in the field.

(Video) How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome at Work

While it’s difficult to accept praise when you feel there’s a misalignment between your capability and experience, succeeding in a position you’re new to doesn’t mean you’re a fraud; it only points to a greater potential in yourself to achieve.

There is no miracle cure. It’s important to remember that imposter syndrome is not only a very normal thing to go through, but a cycle, a habit of limiting thoughts formed to make sense of career-related anxieties. Cycles are hard to break and being patient with yourself is the key to any growth.

1. Build confidence

The best way to manage self-doubt, which is at the root of IS, long-term is through fostering habits of self-belief to fall back on. This can be done through practises like daily affirmations. This article from Refinery29 lists more ideas on ways to boost confidence in general.

2. Make intentional language choices

Notice your tone of thought, whether your self-talk is compassionate/how you’d talk to a respected colleague or loved one. Does it motivate or discourage you?

2.5. STOP APOLOGISING - A common tendency in professionals with imposter syndrome is to use ingratiating language choices like ‘Sorry for any inconvenience’, when making very reasonable requests. Paying attention to the way you communicate and express yourself to others in work-related discourse can transform your attitude and the way you’re treated.

(Video) Who Gets Imposter Syndrome, And How Do You Deal With It?

3. Learn the difference between humility and fear

As stated by HubSpot, it’s really not necessary to shame yourself into feeling like an imposter in order to be gracious about your achievements.

4. And the difference between constructive feedback and harsh criticism

Not all feedback is of equal value - it can be helpful to differentiate between the kind that encourages you and the kind that puts you down. Communicate your needs regarding feedback to the people who you work with and disregard feedback from people who you don’t.

5. Celebrate your wins

Whether they’re big or small, taking the time to congratulate yourself on your accomplishments is a huge step in quieting IS. You don’t have to suffer for the right to enjoy your successes - indulge in a guilty pleasure, go out for a nice meal, buy that wishlist item - you do deserve it.

6. Take a break

Rest isn’t a reward but a basic necessity. You’re not going to reach a goal quicker, and it won’t be worthwhile, if it’s at the cost of your health.

7. Accept the opportunities you think you ‘don’t deserve’

Apply for that dream job, open up discussions about progression and promotion in your role, send off that piece of work you’ve been agonising over for being mostly-but-not-quite finished.

You’ll likely never feel fully prepared for an opportunity and it’s more productive to throw yourself in with the expectation of it being a learning experience.

8. Stop comparing yourself

The differences in your past experiences and approach to work is what makes you uniquely valuable as a social media professional. If you’re the first of your demographic in your work environment, feeling out of place is normal. Remember being a pioneer means not belonging.

(Video) How Imposter Syndrome Affects Us As Artists and Tips to Overcome It

9. Aim to ameliorate not eliminate imposter feelings

“There’s a balance with everything in life,” says Esme Rice. “I don’t always think that my imposter syndrome is a bad thing - sometimes it has made me sit down, shut up and just listen to those in the room around me. You learn a lot this way and quietly increase your confidence so that when you do speak, you feel assured that what you have to say is of value. Imposter syndrome will always try to qualify and reduce your achievements so create an objective list that allows you to feel confident in your achievements and abilities.”

  • Gemma Brown Coaching - “At Tailify, we have recently completed a lunch and learn session with Gemma Brown Coaching,” says Esme Rice. “I can highly recommend her sessions and would recommend other companies take the initiative to host sessions that discuss imposter syndrome.”

  • The 5 types of Imposter Syndrome - This article goes into more about how IS manifests in you and the best strategies to tackle your specific type/s.

  • Clance’s Imposter Phenomenon Scale - This is for those of you who’ve identified with IS and then convinced yourself that you don’t have it - that you’re instead a legitimate imposter.

  • The Marketing Meetup’s 30 Days of Good Habits Challenge- Based on The Marketing Meetup’s popular session Imposter Syndrome: Stop Faking It, this challenge offers a more structured framework to tackle workplace insecurities. The Marketing Meetup is also a great community to become a part of if you’re looking for a non-judgemental, supportive place to connect with others in your industry.

  • The Daily Pep! podcast by Meg Kissack - This podcast provides a brief daily reminder that you’re amazing and capable and, most of all, very much not alone in the struggle against self-doubt.

  • This Ted Talk by Valerie Young for extra strategies.

    (Video) How to Find Your Confidence and Overcome Imposter Syndrome with Kelsey Boyer

FAQs

How does social media affect imposter syndrome? ›

According to Dr. Lombardo, research shows that about 70 percent of the population experiences imposter syndrome, and she claims to have seen an increase in people struggling as a result of social media. “Many people post pictures or quotes that represent their ideal self,” explains Dr.

How do you overcome imposter syndrome? ›

Overcoming impostor feelings: Seven strategies that can help
  1. Learn the facts. ...
  2. Share your feelings. ...
  3. Celebrate your successes. ...
  4. Let go of perfectionism. ...
  5. Cultivate self-compassion. ...
  6. Share your failures. ...
  7. Accept it.
1 Jun 2021

Can social media cause imposter syndrome? ›

For some individuals, social media use can contribute to impostor syndrome. These individuals may have trouble acknowledging their accomplishments. They may feel as if their true selves don't live up to their reputations and feel severe self-doubt as a result.

Who suffers from imposter syndrome? ›

In 1978, psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance first described imposter syndrome in high-achieving professional women. More recently, experts have found that it's common among both men and women in many lines of work. One study found that about 70% of all people have felt like an imposter at some point.

What is the imposter syndrome? ›

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.

How many people does imposter affect? ›

Impostor syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of job or social status, but high-achieving individuals often experience it. Psychologists first described the syndrome in 1978. According to a 2020 review, 9%–82% of people experience impostor syndrome.

How do you overcome imposter syndrome Youtube? ›

Top Strategies For Overcoming Imposter Syndrome At Work

What is the opposite of imposter syndrome? ›

While the Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when people overestimate their abilities, the phenomenon's opposite would be imposter syndrome. People suffering from imposter syndrome tend to underestimate their abilities or feel that they don't deserve their success.

What are the five different types of imposter syndrome? ›

Valerie Young, has categorized it into subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Superwoman/man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert.

Is imposter syndrome a weakness? ›

Greatest strengths? Often, value comes from flipping a perceived weakness on it's head and figuring out its opposite. Imposter syndrome can be your greatest strength because it means you're conscious of your ability. It means you're aware you could improve.

Can teenagers have imposter syndrome? ›

The National Institutes of Health describes imposter syndrome as a phenomenon among high-achieving people who, “despite their objective successes, fail to internalize their accomplishments and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud or imposter.” This phenomenon is dangerous, as students begin ...

How does imposter syndrome affect the body? ›

In the initial study, researchers found the clinical symptoms associated with impostor syndrome to include anxiety, depressive symptoms and lack of self-confidence. Maksimow says that in her experience, perfectionist patients tend to suffer from impostor syndrome more frequently as well.

Do successful people have impostor syndrome? ›

Many successful people suffer from impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is the feeling that you're a fraud–and that you'll be “found out” if you don't work longer and harder than everyone else.

Do successful people get imposter syndrome? ›

In fact, imposter syndrome tends to be more prevalent among high achievers, if only because you first have to experience success in order to feel your success was based on luck, or circumstance ... or that someday soon, people will see you for who you "really" are.

How does imposter syndrome affect relationships? ›

In a romantic relationship, impostor syndrome can cause persistent worries that your partner will soon discover you're not “as great” as they might think you are and break things off. If unaddressed, these insecurities can lead you to experience great distress, and sometimes, it can cause the end of a relationship.

Who invented imposter syndrome? ›

Such thoughts and feelings are captured by the term “imposter syndrome,” originally coined by Pauline Clance, PhD, a clinician at Oberlin College (Clance, 1985).

What percentage of students have imposter syndrome? ›

In a 2019 study, 20% of college students experienced impostor syndrome. And a 2020 review of medical studies found that up to 82% of people may face the syndrome at some point in their lives.

How do you know if you have imposter syndrome? ›

9 Telltale Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome
  1. "I'm a fake and I'm going to be found out." ...
  2. "I lucked out." ...
  3. "If I can do it, anyone can." ...
  4. "I had a lot of help." ...
  5. "I had connections." ...
  6. "They're just being nice." ...
  7. "Failure is not an option." ...
  8. "I'm pretty sure" or "I kind of think"
8 Feb 2017

How do I overcome anxiety in my new job? ›

How to overcome job anxiety
  1. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking and ask for feedback to learn as you onboard into your role.
  2. Practice deep breathing exercises.
  3. Check-in with loved ones to take your mind off work.
  4. Take notes during your onboarding and training.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to other more experienced employees.
6 May 2022

How do you handle stress at a new job? ›

These 6 Tips Will Help You Handle New Job Stress Like a Pro
  1. Start with a graceful exit. ...
  2. Don't forget about self-care. ...
  3. Be social. ...
  4. Understand expectations early. ...
  5. Embrace the challenge. ...
  6. Ask for help if the adjustment feels overwhelming.
18 Apr 2018

What is imposter syndrome feel like? ›

Imposter syndrome is that uncomfortable feeling you experience when you think you're unqualified and incompetent. You might look around and assume everyone knows what they're doing except you. And if you achieve something good, you'll chalk your accomplishments up to “good luck.”

What is the difference between impostor and imposter? ›

What does imposter mean? Imposter is an alternative spelling of the same noun. Impostor is the proper spelling of this word, but imposter has also appeared frequently for several centuries.

What is it called when someone thinks they know more than they do? ›

Dunning-Kruger effect, in psychology, a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria or to the performance of their peers or of people in general.

What is it called when someone knows less about something but confident? ›

In more recent years, we have come to understand and accept the Dunning-Kruger effect: a cognitive bias that states that the less we know, the more confident we are. It gives new meaning to the saying, “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

Is imposter syndrome insecurity? ›

Impostor Syndrome is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It strikes smart, successful individuals.

How do you use impostor syndrome in a sentence? ›

He found the size of the financial reward so hard to justify that friends wondered whether he was suffering from impostor syndrome. She has given the show its own premise, though, as she explores impostor syndrome, that feeling of being unqualified for what you do. I spent a lot of my life with impostor syndrome.

Why do I feel like an imposter in my own life? ›

Basically, Imposter Syndrome describes a long-term feeling of chronic self-doubt which persists despite evidence of our personal successes and the challenges we have overcome. What many of us may not realize, however, is just how common these irrational thoughts and associated feelings of self-doubt truly are!

Should you mention imposter syndrome in an interview? ›

2. Don't let imposter syndrome get the better of you. Instead of thinking “everyone will be better than me”, remind yourself of your uniqueness and of your worth – and take that self-belief into your job interview.

What is your greatest weakness answer samples? ›

Here's an example. My greatest weakness is that sometimes, I just have a hard time letting go of a project. I'm the biggest critic of my own work, and I can always find something that needs to be improved or changed.

Can parents cause imposter syndrome? ›

In their initial study, Clance and Imes noted that impostor syndrome stems from early family experiences with parents and caregivers—for example, if a child consistently feels the need to prove themselves to their parents, or, on the flip side, a child who's consistently praised as perfect and consequently becomes ...

Can kids have imposter syndrome? ›

Parents have a huge impact on the formation of impostor phenomenon in their kids. When Dr. Clance met with adult sufferers, the messages their parents had sent them in childhood were the inciting factor. There are two types of messages parents send that create feelings of being a fraud in a child.

What is imposter syndrome feel like? ›

Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments. To counter these feelings, you might end up working harder and holding yourself to ever higher standards.

Is imposter syndrome a mental illness? ›

Impostor syndrome is an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be, as if you are a fraud. Despite being a "syndrome," it is not a diagnosable mental illness.

What are the five different types of imposter syndrome? ›

Valerie Young, has categorized it into subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Superwoman/man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert.

Is imposter syndrome a symptom of ADHD? ›

Many individuals with ADHD can struggle with Impostor Syndrome. They may already feel like imposters because they may hide their difficulties from public view. Their boss and coworkers know they are smart and get results. But they know they have to work harder than anyone else at the office to get those results.

How does imposter syndrome affect relationships? ›

In a romantic relationship, impostor syndrome can cause persistent worries that your partner will soon discover you're not “as great” as they might think you are and break things off. If unaddressed, these insecurities can lead you to experience great distress, and sometimes, it can cause the end of a relationship.

Is imposter syndrome a weakness? ›

Greatest strengths? Often, value comes from flipping a perceived weakness on it's head and figuring out its opposite. Imposter syndrome can be your greatest strength because it means you're conscious of your ability. It means you're aware you could improve.

How does imposter syndrome affect the body? ›

In the initial study, researchers found the clinical symptoms associated with impostor syndrome to include anxiety, depressive symptoms and lack of self-confidence. Maksimow says that in her experience, perfectionist patients tend to suffer from impostor syndrome more frequently as well.

How does imposter syndrome affect mental health? ›

Due to repeated feelings of inadequacy, a person struggling with imposter syndrome can develop other mental health conditions. For instance, negative feelings could lead to anxiety or depression associated with imposter syndrome.

Why do I feel like an imposter in my own life? ›

Basically, Imposter Syndrome describes a long-term feeling of chronic self-doubt which persists despite evidence of our personal successes and the challenges we have overcome. What many of us may not realize, however, is just how common these irrational thoughts and associated feelings of self-doubt truly are!

How do you use impostor syndrome in a sentence? ›

He found the size of the financial reward so hard to justify that friends wondered whether he was suffering from impostor syndrome. She has given the show its own premise, though, as she explores impostor syndrome, that feeling of being unqualified for what you do. I spent a lot of my life with impostor syndrome.

Is imposter syndrome an anxiety? ›

Though the impostor phenomenon isn't an official diagnosis listed in the DSM, psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.

How do you tell if I have ADHD as a woman? ›

Symptoms and signs of ADHD in adult women can include:
  • Difficulty with time management.
  • Disorganization.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • History of anxiety and depression.
  • Difficulty with money management.
18 Mar 2021

What is ADHD mask? ›

If you hide your adult ADHD symptoms from other people, that's called masking. Basically, you're trying to seem more “normal” or “regular.” ADHD causes some people to act hyperactive or impulsive. It makes other folks have trouble paying attention.

Videos

1. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome & Feelings of Self Doubt as a Photographer
(The Photographers' Mentor)
2. Overcome Imposter Syndrome in 20 Minutes
(Miles Beckler)
3. [Audio Description] How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome at Work
(Indeed)
4. Two Types Of Imposter Syndrome And How To Overcome Them
(Land Profit Generator with Jack & Michelle Bosch)
5. 7 Tips for Etsy Sellers - How To Overcome Artist Imposter Syndrome
(Marketing and Heart)
6. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Presentation from Rich Schefren
(Strategic Profits)

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