The Authenticity Drought: Why You Need To Bring Back The ‘Real You’ On Social Media
As marketers, we’re constantly bombarded with the message: “Work smarter, not harder”. It’s this sentiment that has left our social media channels controlled by automation tools incapable of creating true relationships with our customers.
Automation is a powerful time-saving tool, but authenticity on social media is a powerful conversion tool. It’s as simple as that.
We spend so long crafting the perfect email message, the perfect blog post, and the perfect pitch – but our social media is left being managed by automation tools that effectively undo all of our hard work.
Have you logged on to Twitter lately? Just to check your feed and to see what’s going on? Well, I’d garner a guess that you were bombarded with what can only be described as a yelling contest:
“Check out my new book!”
“Check out my new article about xyz!”
“Check out how awesome I am!”
My question is: why are we as marketers losing out on opportunities for authentic conversations with our customers in order to save a bit of time?
Sticking to the values of Candid Content, I’m going to be candid with you here. We have previously used Social Quant – a powerful automation tool. However, even using some automation, we still manage to maintain authenticity in Candid Content’s Twitter feed.
I could show you how I do it, but I’ll save that for another day. Today, I want to tell you why I’m authentic on my social channels and why you should be, too.
What Even IS Authenticity?
To first understand why you need to be authentic, you need to understand what authenticity actually means (especially in terms of social media). James T Noble wrote a great post covering authenticity over at Kissmetrics and summed authenticity up nicely:
“Simply put, being authentic means staying true to who you are, what you do and who you serve.”
While ‘authenticity’ may be an overused marketing buzzword, the fact remains that it still needs to be an integral part of your social media strategy if you want to see real and tangible results. Here’s what being authentic can do:
- It makes your brand approachable and trustworthy
- It helps customers feel at ease with your brand
- It gives a personal touch to a brand
- It increases your ability to form relationships with your customers
Authenticity means different things to different people, but if you remain true to your brand and what your values are – you’ll begin to see a real increase in how you’re perceived on social media. Social media isn’t just a numbers game, it’s a relationships game (or, at least it should be).
We’re in the middle of a shift toward marketing becoming more based in reality, as opposed to just numbers. Consumers are becoming savvy to marketing tricks, and authenticity is what will really resonate with them going forward.
Small Doses Of Automation
I will say that all automation isn’t bad. Just like anything, it’s good in moderation. There are some fantastic automation tools out there but it’s up to us as marketers to decide how they fit into our overall strategy and whether they’ll actually help us achieve results.
The trick is to achieve a balance between automation and authenticity. You can use automation tools to schedule your posts, or to find articles for you – but it needs to be up to you to write your posts, interact and converse with your followers in an authentic way that will resonate with them. That’s what will get you results.
By combining your integral automation tools with authentic social communication, you’ll begin to transform your followers into real, mutually beneficial relationships.
Put yourself in the shoes of who you’re targeting: is your automated direct message about your product really going to reach them? Chances are it’s not. Is an authentic and non-automated tweet going to make them remember you? It’s highly likely.
It’s all about curating an audience that wants to hear from you, and that’s done by keeping authenticity front-and-centre, and using automation as a secondary tool to make tedious tasks a little easier.
Reason 1: Voice & Branding
All marketers are aware that a brand voice is essential in good content marketing. That’s why it baffles me to see brands losing their authentic voice in order to completely automate their social channels.
If you have automation tools taking everything off your hands, you might save some time, but you lose control over what you’re actually saying on social media and go on to lose your brand’s unique voice.
For example, if you have a tool that trawls the internet for applicable articles and then just posts the headline and a link to the article – where is your brand voice? How are you strengthening your brand through that message?
The fact is that by completely automating your social media channels, you can begin to lose your brand voice, dilute your messaging and there’s a good chance you won’t actually be adding value to your target audience (a big social media no-no).
By being selective of what you post, and by posting things that are relevant to your target audience and adding messaging in line with your brand voice – you’ll have a more consistent and authentic brand. That consistency is what will lead to a higher rate of brand recognition and trust between you and your customers.
Reason 2: Quality (keep it going in your content, too)
When a brand is authentic on social media it gives them the opportunity to retain some level of quality control over what they post, how they post it and how it’s likely to be received by their followers.
When automation becomes involved, we’re seeing brands give up a lot of quality control. That’s why we’re seeing generic and practical identical posts like these (note how quickly these came out after one another):
Whereas when brands are focusing more on authenticity, they have more control over the quality of their content, and are more likely to offer their followers unique insights that will resonate with them.
All you have to do is look at these tweets side by side, and tell me that you don’t see why authenticity and a unique social media voice is important.
Reason 3 (The BIGGEST Reason): Real Relationships
At the end of the day, the whole point of social media boils down to one thing: relationships. The fact is that social media is meant to be social, and authenticity is what is going to build these key relationships.
These real and meaningful relationships with your audience are what will eventually lead to brand trust and conversions. It’s as simple as that. As a consumer, if a brand fails to authentically communicate, it’s much more unlikely that they will go on to purchase.
Let’s use Candid Content’s Twitter as an example.
Nearly every message in our Twitter inbox goes along the lines of:
“Hi (insert Twitter name), thanks for following. I’m (insert who they are), I wanted to show you (insert something they’re trying to promote).”
Would they not get better results if they took the automation out of that process and actually initiated a conversation? Instead of promoting up front, brands should be looking at ways to begin a conversation. It’s like opening a window to your target market and letting them see what your brand is really about.
Of course, authentic communication is never going to be as quick as automation. But, that’s not the point. The point is if your audience is getting personal and authentic communication from you, they’re going to begin seeing your brand as trustworthy and someone they could see themselves buying off.
Just have a look at these examples of authenticity at work:
Falcon have written a great post on a number of brands who have built authentic social media communities, check it out here.
So, Where To From Here?
Now you’re convinced that authenticity actually wins out over automation, you might be left wondering what you can actually do about it. Well, I’ve partnered up with a wonderful like-minded industry friend (who I met through authentic social media conversation), and she will cover exactly how you can be authentic.
In the meantime, let me know what you think: do you think authenticity is more important than automation? What automation tools could you not live without?
Let’s get the authentic conversations going!