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How to be authentic on Social Media (and why it matters)

As social media becomes a more and more cluttered space, brands have to work harder than ever to get in front of their target audience. 

On our blog, we’ve covered how to get your message into the news feed, with targeting, paid campaigns, or by working with influencers. The real question is, once you’re in the news feed, is your message even making a mark, or just getting lost amongst all the other advertising?

With all the effort that’s being put into making content that garners engagement (thanks to Zuckerberg’s announcement saying posts need to “encourage meaningful interactions between people.” - more on that here, it’s easy for brands to get caught out trying too hard. 

Just like dating, inauthenticity is a MASSIVE turn off, and bad news: your followers can spot it from a mile away. Do we have stats to prove our case? Yes.

  • 20% of consumers have unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic (Stackla).
  • Users connect most with content that is real, in fact, 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla).

So, why does being authentic on social matter?

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with overly photoshopped images of perfect poreless people, seeing something or someone real, is different. Showing pictures of staff, your office, or what’s going on behind the scenes makes your brand more accessible & approachable.

Moreover, if a business is willing to share their imperfections and be genuine, you’re more likely to trust them over a company that is completely polished.

And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you, authenticity builds community. This can give your followers a sense of family, where users stand up for each other, rather than just being part of another online group.

Get REAL

Although many people on social media are trying to keep up with the Joneses, personal profiles naturally appear authentic - even if they aren’t being entirely genuine.

That authenticity comes because they’re sharing content that is real life, and although the feeds are filtered, the captions are calculated, and only the best moments are shared, it’s still real life.

It’s much more complicated for brands to keep it real online, as they’re not people. So here’s a few tips on how to stay authentic and connect with your audience on social media.

1: Be honest and transparent

Ninety-four percent of consumers are likely to stay loyal to brands that provide complete transparency (Label Insight).

Fake news, photoshopped images, stories that just seem too good to be true… Fluffed up content is everywhere. It’s not hard to spot a brand being fake, and it’s not a good look.

The obvious advice is to stay away from dishonest content, but you should already know that, so let’s take it a step further. Be honest about your product or service where possible - try going behind the scenes and humanising your brand. 

Imagine your brand is someone you meet at a party. Would you want to know what they do day to day? Yes, probably. Would you want to know how their great-aunt, Matilda, likes to floss her teeth? Probably not. MORAL: Get personal, but not TOO personal.

If you sell a product, share stories about how you make it. Tell people where the materials come from, how you manufacture, or how you design the things you want them to buy. If you’re a service, share the work that goes into creating your customer experience. 

Show off about your company's ethos. If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, or buy only organic material, or donate time or money to charity, LET PEOPLE KNOW!

User-Generated Content can also be an awesome way to show your company’s products or services in real life, but we won’t go into that in too much detail, as we have a whole other article on that here.

Want to know what NOT to do? Back in September 2018, Kylie Jenner tweeted that she “had cereal with milk for the first time” and that it was “life changing.”

This kind of pandering for online attention is incredibly contrived, and can damage your reputation, even as a celebrity. 

2: Skip the calls to action for a second

It’s only natural to include a call to action, but it’s easy to get caught up trying to turn every online interaction into a conversion by chucking “Buy Now” on everything.

In the interest of authenticity online, play the conversion long game, by striking a balance between posts that are meant to convert, and posts that are meant to simply connect with your audience.

Building positive brand sentiment creates connection, and makes people feel like they’re part of your brand. 

3: If you mess up, own it

Nobody is perfect. So remember - a typo, a bad review, or a post that goes down like a lead balloon can happen to anyone. And likely when it does, your immediate response is to delete the offending content, and try to forget about it. 

However, pretending that it never happened, especially when it’s a big blunder, can cause major issues down the line, and negatively impact your brand sentiment. Owning up to mistakes makes it clear that there are real people behind the business; ‘you’re only human’ goes the saying.

If someone leaves you a bad review, take the time to try and rectify the situation publicly. This shows anyone else viewing your page that you’re willing to listen to feedback, and try to resolve the situation. If you’ve just made a typo or a factual error, own it by correcting it. 

Putting together a well-planned social media content calendar, can be a great way to make sure all your posts will resonate with your audience. Every single piece of content should be worthy of being permanently attributed to your brand. If you need help or guidance with getting up and running, get in touch! We'd love to help.