Social media was among the first web-based mass media that allowed individuals to openly share their ideas, feelings and lives with others – in real time. Today, Social media is ruining authenticity! As a result, customers do not know which brands on social media they should. The fake reality of social media ranges from fake websites and bot accounts to phoney followers and other trolls.
This plague on social media drives even authentic users and creators to run around in circles trying to get more likes, more followers, more fame.
Social media platforms may have been originally built to connect the masses. However today, influencers and brands take the extra step to fake what they are not – so they can fight off dwindling reach and meet their performance metrics. According to marketing trend forecasts, the days of perfectly curated content are over.
The recent “Cred” billboards in India are a case in point. To their credit, (get the pun?) they have made these minimal billboards work effectively by using cross-platform marketing. However, small creators and businesses may never truly be able to compete with larger players like Cred – not just because their pockets are shallower. There is one more reason.
If a smaller player had pulled off a smaller marketing campaign similar to Cred (even if the SME used the idea first), potential customers would be trolling and scraping off small creators in the name of lack of creativity. The general internet hordes have been successfully conditioned to accept nothing short of grand sweeping marketing campaigns in order to label a business as a ‘brand success story’!
What can smaller content creators do in a world loaded with unreasonable expectations?
While your customers share photos of #aboutlastnight parties or where they went #trekking, go out and actually connect with them in an authentic way – let your platform be a place for them to share their own stories. While the whole world is applying filters, take off your mask.
Maintaining transparency in social media while favourably representing your company in an enticing light may feel like walking a tightrope. When brands on social media are showing highlights with flawlessly filtered moments, it is easy to fall victim to the traps of comparison and one-upmanship. Avoid this seductive call by allowing your brand to speak for itself through authentic moments – however #uglycrying and #failmoments they may be!
Things to remember
Look. Everyone knows that generating honest content may help you establish a deeper connection with customers, promote brand loyalty and expand the relationship beyond sales. Brand empathy is about the relationship between a real person and their real human followers. Social media authentication strengthens the buyer-seller journey, helping people secure trust among their audience community.
Buyers derive a sense of self from their brands, so knowing they support genuine and authentic companies makes them feel good about their decisions. Here are a few things to keep in mind while deciding how to present your brand online that will help you keep it real.
Everything need not always be flawless. To make your customers believe that you are #keepingitreal, you must first be genuine and unfiltered. It is acceptable to publish without a filter, as well as to discuss challenges – without overly dramatizing your struggles to the point that you lose your social media authenticity.
If you want to Steal Like An Artist, try to steal inspiration – not the whole idea! If brands on social media are sharing silly dances, they need to ensure that the video style actually works for their product or service. Too much ‘trending’ behaviour will seem out of place if you stray from your existing brand message and values just for the sake of reach.
Stop and think for a moment about how you are projecting your brand voice on social media. What does it say about you or your company? Are you proud of your content and believe it accurately represents your brand? Ask for feedback from those who interact with you.
No running for ‘Like’
Likes, follows and engagement metrics may be super-satisfying. Sure, more interaction shows that your followers value what you are publishing. However, avoid publishing stuff just to get ‘likes’ because this will backfire in the long run. Irrelevant social media content posted in excess will stand out like a sore thumb on social networks.
Use your voice
When you interact with your followers on social media, use your natural voice to answer. Do not make it automated or robotic. Instead of responding with standard fluff, offer real insight and invite discussion. In case of a negative interaction, accept responsibility for any mistakes and apologize where applicable – instead of shaming the other person. Your replies are public and visible to everyone, so be professional while also being yourself. Trolls do not deserve your respect and consideration, but genuine dissenters do – they took the time to reach out to you and express their ideas. This is an opportunity for connection.
Do not do the same things as your competitors. Learn from their interactions, create articles on your opinions about things they have shared with their audiences. Imitating your rivals’ style, substance or attitude is not an impressive way to promote your brands. Make sure that your material is unique to you – people are here for your authentic voice.
Adhering to core values
Being honest is an essential element of engaging with followers. Customers are looking for authentic experiences. Creators are accountable for their content today more than ever. Brands must adhere to their core values and brand voice, communicate freely and honestly with customers and accept responsibility for their actions. Being genuine online may appear to be an impossible endeavour, but it all comes down to being natural. Post social media content that is honest and insightful. Stay loyal to yourself and your brand. Your content doesn’t have to be perfectly groomed to be shared, but it must reflect your brand’s ethos and convey what you stand for genuinely and truthfully.
This is all great talk, but how do we actually practice what we preach?
At Vantage ITeS, we are hooked on black box thinking.
According to author Matthew Syed, success can happen only when we confront our mistakes – and creativity is a response to failure.
Let’s take this concept a step further. What if we took the principles of black box thinking and took it one step further? We noticed our mistakes, examined them – and then shared our mistakes as well as the learning transparently? The black box perspective then becomes the glass box perspective!
The Real Deal
Your customers do not always know what is truly going on inside the organization. When you post real stories about your #worklife, celebrate employee occasions and achievements with your followers, they feel connected to your work family.
According to research, photos with faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments on Instagram. Research definitely shows that people will follow your brand with more enthusiasm when they know the faces behind your brand. Introducing team members to your audience will help build a real connection with real people. This technique is our favourite as it builds a sense of familiarity better than talking about your opinions all day using social posts.
Open about successes and failures
Remember we talked about the glass box? Keeping your followers up to date about your recent successes or failures and soliciting suggestions when things are not going so well can humanize you in a world of automated content. Displaying vulnerability may be a risk, but establishing such a connection results in deeper interpersonal connections. This helps you to crowdsource ideas and makes your audience feel like they are a part of your decision making process.
Feature your customers
Whether sharing reviews, case studies or user-generated content, try to re-tell customer stories with customer-focused social media posts. Tag your customer and make them feel recognized for extra reach and engagement. This helps to form close relationships with customers, building a community of like-minded people around your brand. Make sure you focus on their stories as well as feature your own product or service.
Connect before selling
Instead of ‘selling’ your products by telling people how great you are, create and share content that your followers will find helpful and exciting. For a well-executed campaign, hard sales are often a natural progression of someone believing that your product or service can solve a problem or be useful in some way. Share useful links and informative industry articles . Finally, use holidays to have a little fun with your audience.
Wrapping up social media authentication
Digital authenticity is a function of a customer-centric marketing approach. Your customers want to share their opinions and experiences online. Use this thirst for social media authenticity to feature them, learn about them and build ongoing dialogue.
So that sage advice to ‘just be yourself’ if you want to make more friends in school? It works online too. Want to learn about how you can create content that turns into effective connections? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.