7 Ways to Make Your Brand More Authentic on Social Media
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Authenticity is a quality that can’t be precisely measured. You can’t report on your company’s authenticity the way you can quarterly sales, gross revenues, or even social media followers. Yet authenticity is vitally important to how well received you are by your target audience, and how much trust they hold for your brand in general. So how can you learn to make your brand as authentic as possible, when there are no objective measurements for such a quality?
There are many definitions of “authenticity” you can work with, but for our purposes, let’s view it as a genuineness and humanness that makes your brand more trustworthy. That is to say—if your posts seem robotic, formulaic, contrived, sales-heavy, or manipulative, they are not authentic. If they are sincere, emotional, personal, approachable, and believable, they are authentic.
With that loose definition established, let’s look at some strategies you can use to increase your brand’s own authenticity:
1. Post more images
Images convey visual experiences, which help people imagine what it’s like to “be” your brand (even though your brand isn’t a person and isn’t actually seeing anything). Imagine posting an image of your office lunchroom when your employees are relaxing or posting an image of your workfloor when they’re hard at work—either way, you’re showcasing a candid photo of your office in action. It’s not some piece of stock photography you attached to a blog, nor is it a plain written update. It gives your users a visual entryway to the real operations of your brand, which in turn makes you seem more authentic.
2. Interview your employees
If you want to allow an even deeper look at the inner workings of your company, start interviewing some of your employees. Interviewing high-level workers, like people on your board of directors, carries a certain weight of authority, but interviewing low-level workers, like new hires, adds a level of approachability. Try for an even blend, and let the interview take its own shape (that is to say, avoid any scripted responses). Show off the personalities that make your company tick. People will love you for it.
3. Write like you would on your own social profiles
When you post on your company’s Facebook page, you want to keep things in line with the brand’s voice. This adds a layer of consistency and familiarity that all your social fans will want to see. However, if you go over the top with this voice adoption, you’ll end up coming across as distant and contrived. Instead, strive to write for your brand much in the same way that you would write on your own Facebook timeline. Speak casually and conversationally, and prove the fact that there’s a real person behind all these posts.
4. Post in real time
Social media post scheduling services are incredibly convenient, and allow you to plan out your posts for days. However, there’s a downside to using these services—they put you on a regimented routine. Even non-observant followers will eventually start noticing that your posting habits form a precise pattern, and often appear to be premeditated in nature. Instead of relying totally on these scheduling services, post in real time on occasion. React to a breaking piece of news, post an image of your current location, or use some other means of connecting to your users in real time.
5. Hold conversations
Nothing makes you seem more authentic than holding a real, one-on-one, personal conversation with someone, and social media gives you the perfect opportunity to do this. Watch carefully for new comments from your followers—they could appear on a blog post or on a social media post—and when you see one that prompts a discussion, get involved and speak naturally. You’ll instantly build at least one personal relationship with your brand, and anyone who sees the trail of conversation will immediately think of you as being more authentic.
6. Avoid any formulaic response
Some companies use “response formulas” to make the process of customer service on social media easier. For example, they might have a written template that says something along the lines of “Thanks for your comment. Please fill out a customer service contact form here, or call…” These may make the process quicker for your brand, but they come off as robotic and uncaring. If you want your brand to seem authentic, get rid of all of them, and write out custom responses for every inbound query.
7. Express opinions
Opinions are often seen as dangerous territory; everybody has a set of unique opinions, and the very nature of opinions means that not everybody agrees with them. If you choose to express a particular opinion on behalf of your brand, it could mean completely alienating the other side of the aisle (so to speak; opinions extend beyond political divides). However, choosing and announcing an opinion—even a controversial one—shows that you care more about your own integrity than winning people over. Almost counterintuitively, that will help you win people over. It shows that you are authentic, and even people who disagree with you will likely respect that.
With these strategies in tow, your audience should find you more authentic in nature. If you’re concerned about how well you’re faring, there is a way to gauge your audience’s perceptions (even though I explicitly said earlier that authenticity can’t be measured). Simply ask them directly. Conduct regular “brand surveys” with portions of your audience, maybe once a quarter, and include several qualitative ranking factors for traits like authoritativeness, integrity, and authenticity. If you see your collective authenticity score going up from quarter to quarter, it’s definitive proof that the strategies are working.
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