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The value of authenticity

Katrina Rischbieth // 03rd October 2017
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How do people perceive your brand on social media?

Are you honest, reliable, genuine? How can your audience tell?

Social media is a powerful way for brands to make connections with customers, but you need to know how to do it right.

Audiences want reality

It may sound a little crazy but the secret to leveraging social and standing out from your competitors is to be yourself.  Not a phoney representation of what you think your audience will like, but the real deal.

Brands need to give people something tangible to connect with, they need to be relatable on an emotional level. People walk away from that brands they can’t trust. We look to brands that reveal themselves as genuine.

We crave authenticity.

Authenticity: a definition

It’s a word that has been thrown around for a while now in the marketing realm. But what does it mean for brands and how do they apply it to their marketing?

Authenticity is about being who you are. It’s about being real, being genuine and reliable. Not a fake or a copy.

authentic: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Often, authenticity is confused with that other buzzword ‘transparency’ and brands think that they have to reveal everything to their audience when in fact authenticity is a lot more strategically aligned.

When brands reveal parts of themselves that are relevant and meaningful to their audience they can help transform them along the customer journey.

Brands achieve this by knowing who they are, knowing who their audience is and building a trusting relationship with them.

Know yourself, be yourself

Brands need to have a voice. Develop your brand’s personality and show your emotions. This is how your audience relates to you.

The key is to reveal the parts of your brand’s personality that are relevant to your target audience and relate it to where they are on the customer journey.

Reveal your humour, sensitivity, understanding, vulnerability, seriousness, thoughtfulness, diplomacy, creativity, analytical ability, scientific knowledge. These are all personality traits that make your brand ‘human’ and more personable. Your audience will have an easier time trusting you if they can connect with you in this way.

Your target audience

Get to know who you are wanting to attract. By knowing who your audience and their pain points you can provide information that is going to appeal to them. How you present yourself online has a big impact on people’s decision making.

Revealing your authority on a matter and being yourself at the same time will make them feel comfortable talking to you and in letting you help to solve their problems.

Consumers research brands and purchase from the ones that align with their own values. In comparing the same or similar products consumers sometimes price difference won’t even come into the equation.

Building trust with your audience

Trust is built gradually. It is achievable for brands but it takes time. You have to earn it.

The same way when you meet someone for the first time, there is not a lot of trust between you. Just like friendships, brands need to be themselves, allow people get to know them little by little.

It is very unlikely that you would place 100% trust in someone you’ve just been acquainted with, so why would automatically trust your brand? The trust will come as your relationship grows.

Tips for being authentic

Earning trust from your audience can be achieved in your content, what you say and how you say it. When posting content on social media there are a few things to consider:

  • be honest: even the language you use reveals a lot about your brand values and people will align with brands that represent the same values as them
  • provide useful information: rather than using social media primarily as a sales platform for your brand, present yourself as a leader in your industry by posting resources and other related information
  • interact with customers online: connect to your audience on an emotional level by having conversations with them
  • don’t over polish: avoid photoshopping images to the Nth degree, unrealistic images are less appealing, audiences want to see what it looks like in real life
  • be consistent and up-to-date: people research brands prior to purchasing to find out who they are, if the information is different across your platforms they may question your credibility

 

The above points should also be applied to your other digital platforms and, as the last point states, be consistent. Often it is not a matter of price for a consumer but whether they align with the values of the brand.

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