Consumers today have forced a change in marketing. They are aware, savvy, discerning, and well-versed in the tactics marketers have used for generations to capture attention. In the digital age, transparency and a focus on content shows more heart and consideration for your audience than trying to sell to them.
A company’s website is their chief sales tool. Content, be it in blogs or social media, is meant to draw attention to and point toward the site. To entice and engage consumers and Internet users, your content needs to be authentic—convincingly genuine, valuable, original, and sharable.
For our purposes, authenticity is two-fold. It means staying true to your company or brand identity, to your purpose and mission, to what you do, and to those whom you serve. It also requires a certain amount of transparency and realness in your dealings, online and offline, in business and with consumers. When achieved, authenticity can prove broadly beneficial, helping your business grow and prosper.
Keys to Authenticity
Reputation is the way you are seen by others, but it is built upon three critical underlying factors: character, communication, and trust. In today’s day and age, especially in terms of small business, there is no separation between personal and professional character. The suggestion of this duality can lead to a loss of social credibility with your audience because of the belief that a person cannot be two separate things at once; it is viewed as an act, as inauthentic.
Brand story and identity go a long way to helping establish and build authenticity. A consistent and engaging presence in online social media can also foster this impression through transparent actions and valued engagement. Being real, showing the personality and guiding principles behind your company or brand and acting in as genuine a manner as possible not only allow for the creation of the most authentic story, but it will also build rapport with your audience.
The value of listening is something we’ve all heard of. It is important in generating authenticity because without awareness of the wants and needs of the audience you’re trying to reach you won’t fulfill their desires. In the conversations, online and elsewhere, audiences are setting the agendas, and when you listen to what they are talking about, you’ll better know how to speak to them, and increase your chances of creating content that engages users.
Listening is also vital in building credibility for your content and your brand. Credibility breeds trust, but you have to be able and willing to back up what you say. Trusted, credible, and transparent content is rewarded through engagement and sharing interactions, which all translates into beneficial search engine response. A direct method of maximizing content credibility is the inclusion of high-quality images, well-executed videos, and original text. This can also be leveraged through the curation of content from other locations and the cultivation of relationships with the right influencers.
Consistency—in terms of your message, style, and identity—helps build an authentic, trusted, and credible impression for users. This doesn’t mean that your presence online and offline have to be identical in every way, but they should all feel like they stem from the same fundamental source. It sets precedence for what followers and consumers can expect from your company and your brand, thereby nurturing their trust and loyalty.
Authenticity, like reputation and beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder, meaning that it is granted by your audience. By providing a relatable, genuine, and human face to users in social media you stand a better chance of creating more meaningful interactions and connections with consumers, which can translate into measurable results.