Social media is tearing down the wall between back-end business management and front-end service. In this age of transparency, the choices you make to develop a product are just as important as how you treat customers.
Consumers want to engage with honest, genuine brands that aren’t afraid to be human. They don’t want sales-driven ads shoved in their faces, and companies that take this approach are losing the battle for consumer attention.
What Is Brand Authenticity?
How can you demonstrate brand authenticity in a way that feels natural? How do you make a sale without trying to sell?
First, let’s reflect on the purpose of branding.
- Branding IS a tool to condense the essence of your business identity into a story and persona that people can easily digest. Your brand has to convey who you are, what you do, and why you do it through concise, relatable words and visuals. With the right nuance, branding allows you to share a glimpse of the passion and values that drive your business.
- Branding IS NOT a way to fool your audience. Don’t think of brand marketing as a means to trick people into trusting your business. Consumers can spot fake claims and ideas, and they reject businesses that don’t live up to brand promises.
Everyone knows the ultimate goal of most businesses is to make a profit. Beyond this universal truth, consumers want proof you also care about solving real problems and achieving high standards of service.
Brand authenticity is an intent to be honest and open about your business practices. It’s a pledge to “mean what you say” and avoid using manipulative tactics to influence your customers.
The more you show sincerity, the more people will trust and respect your brand.
Social media is a natural conduit to convey authenticity because brands can be informal and creative while interacting directly with fans. Check out these simple ways your small business can use social media to show people what makes your brand special.
Introduce Your Team
How often do you get warm and fuzzy feelings about corporate entities? Probably never. To connect with your audience, you have to remind people your business is run by real people with personalities.
Invite customers to learn about your culture by introducing the people who make your business unique. Post funny bios and weird facts about your staff, or share photos of team activities and office birthday parties.
If you have a sizeable staff, showcase individual members to show everyone how they contribute to the company’s success. Why not create a photo collage or blog post about a day in the life of a key team member?
Provide Helpful Tips
Offer a helping hand to your loyal followers without expecting anything in return. Most business owners have a long list of questions they get asked on a regular basis.
Give your customers a leg up by sharing a helpful tip on how to solve a problem or improve a project.
Tips are highly shareable content, which can drive loads of traffic to your site. Do your best to provide valuable insight the average customer doesn’t already have.
Do you have a special method for getting better baking results? Do you have safety advice for people tackling home improvement projects?
Choose the right platform, depending on the depth of information. A blog post is perfect for detailing a step-by-step process, while sites such as Twitter and Facebook are better for quick tips.
Chronicle an Event or Trip
Make your audience feel involved in the goings-on at your company. If you’re attending an event, developing a product, or just taking a vacation, post photos that get people excited to follow your journey.
Photos instantly draw people to your posts because images can convey tone and emotion without words. Imagine visiting a popular trade show or industry conference.
People who can’t attend will enjoy seeing snapshots of your booth, anticipated speakers, or swag you gathered from other brands. When you want to build up hype for a new product, post photos of packaging, concept drawings, or prototypes to spark curiosity.
Develop Your Own Lingo
One of the smartest ways to take ownership of your brand identity is to come up with slang and hashtags that only relate to your brand. Many household names we use to describe all products in a category actually started with brands and marketers.
Remember Onesies, Hula Hoops, Jell-O, and Windbreakers? How many times a day do you “Google” information? How about Skyping?
Nowadays, it’s more common to create viral language to describe an activity or concept, rather than one specific category. Think of the Taco Bell “fourthmeal” campaign, which successfully captured the idea of late night trips for fast food.
Try creating a word or hashtag that relates to one of your products or the overall customer experience. Followers are more connected to your business when they closely identify with your brand image.
Join a Conversation
Sometimes, the best way to be authentic is to avoid talking about your business altogether. Gone are the days when brands can be opinion-free corporate machines that never take a stance on anything.
Consumers, especially millennials, value brands that are tapped into social issues affecting their audiences. While it’s unwise to be overtly inflammatory, don’t be afraid to stand up for causes that define your business ideology.
When followers comment on your page or issues that relate to your business, respond directly and get them engaged in conversation.
Are you passionate about conservation? Food waste? Healthy living? Parenting? Art and culture? Scientific advancement? Education?
Feel free to keep it lighthearted. Bathroom tissue company Charmin does an excellent job of sharing funny anecdotes and conversation starters about sensitive bathroom topics.
Always be respectful and friendly, and stick to topics that embody your ideals as a brand. That way, you’re more likely to bond with followers, instead of alienating them.
Share a Story of Improvement
Guess what? It’s no secret that businesses aren’t perfect. Customers won’t be shocked to find out you once made a mistake. But they will be pleasantly surprised when you acknowledge it.
If you’re planning to make a change in your business to make service better for customers, let people know why you’re doing it. Highlight any experience with a customer that motivated you to do better, allowing people to see the human side of your brand.
Showcase User-Generated Content
User-generated content is beneficial for two reasons. It puts your customers in the spotlight, and it gives you a break from developing content in-house.
User content also builds trust by sending the message that your only goal isn’t to promote your business. Find simple ways to showcase content created by your followers, whether it’s a funny meme or a clever way someone used your product.
Show appreciation for fan support by publicly thanking people who submit content. Tagging your followers encourages them to share these mentions with their friends, introducing your brand to other people.
Brand authenticity isn’t a perfect science or a metric you can measure. Authenticity is different for every brand because you have one-of-a-kind ideals and personalities shaping your business.
Focus on being genuine and listening to your audience, not speaking down to them. If you pay attention to what works, you will get better at creating social media content that keeps people coming back.
Creating an online presence starts with a great logo design — make sure you have all the file formats you need for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & more!