The Best Social Media Strategy? Authenticity

By Jeff Barrett

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Authenticity—you know it when you see it. Its not a metric. Its not easily measured. But its there. Its that feeling you get when you see something either incredibly on brand or incredibly off point.

Before the Internet, before social media, brands controlled content. It was a one-way conversation. You saw them in the news, you read about them in the newspaper, you watched their commercials.

Now, that has completely changed. Its a two-way conversation. Brands dont control the message. They share that message with the millions of customers and potential customers that can at any time make their voice heard.

Authenticity has always been important. Technology has now made it critical. Thats why last week, I joined #HootChat to discuss authenticity.

“It’s clear that authenticity on social is key to having an engaged audience. Whether you’re involved in social marketing, customer service, community building or all of the above, being real to build relationships is where it’s at.” – Candice Charleton, Manager, Social for Hootsuite.

I make multiple trips to Lowes for lightbulbs, I live with a 4-year-old who will fight me to the death over chapstick, I quote Mean Girls way too much and I still havent watched an episode of Game of Thrones. Im ashamed to admit that last part every day. But thats me. Im goofy. Im a completely even mix of business and pop culturelike any other human being. And its easier for people to connect with a human than a robot.

My business is developing personal brands for CEOs/CMOs and making their brands more personal. But I didnt get there by propping myself up, I got there by telling people why I got fired. People want to know the real story. In 2016, always give your audience something real.

Everything is now a crisis

Every day the Internet declares someone or something the “Worst Thing Ever.” I fall into it sometimes. I hop on the bandwagon.

If people get sick at one Chipotle, every Chipotle will now kill you. We live in culture of overreaction. Thats neither a good or bad things. Its just the new normal and as a brand you adapt.

Every day, a brand should be connecting more and more on a personal level with their audience. They should building brand loyalty and banking affinity. Because, at some point, people will overreact about your brand. The brands that have a loyal audience will get through it. The brands that dont, will take a big hit because they wont have people out there supporting them.

Thats why authenticity is important. There are no shortcuts to it. Its not sexy. Its like putting your money in an IRA. You wont see the benefit now but years later you will be glad you did.

Organic content

Ok, I lied. There may be one shortcut. Create good organic content. Pitch less and entertain more. Partner with people on Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Twitter that have loyal audiences. Be fun, be engaging, be willing to poke fun at yourself.

Flotus and Jay Pharaoh made college look fun.

In 2016 and beyond, people want something real and authentic. The stats are there to prove it.

Ninety-two percent of consumers say they trust earned media, while only half trust paid ads. Seventy percent of people want to learn about products through content vs. through traditional advertisements.

An authentic strategy works. It may take time but it’s time well spent. Be the tortoise. Slow and steady wins.

Learn more about how to build an authentic voice on social media.

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