Authenticity on social media can be a game changer for any brand. A study shows that 91% of people “are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity via purchase, investment, endorsement or similar action”. 61% of these people will either purchase or show “increased” purchase interest from authentic brands.
In this article, we are going to explore some practical ways to be authentic and increase engagement on social media.
What does it mean to be authentic on social media?
Authenticity on social media might have various definitions and implications. For generation X and Baby Boomers authenticity is seen more as “personal relationships with brands”. For Millennials authenticity seems to be more related to “personal attention”, innovation and social consciousness.
Whatever the definition, there’s only one end goal for social media authenticity: making you trustworthy. At the end of the day, everything you do to be authentic on social media is so you can be worthy of people’s trust.
Here are some of the ways you could be authentic on social media and gain people’s trust:
1- Humanize your brand
People tend to trust people more than companies. This fact holds true on social media as well. Humanizing your brand is a way to make sure that people understand you’re more than a self-serving money-making machine which most other companies out there are.
Research shows that people tend to interact more with businesses that show these human traits: human intentions, efforts, and authenticity. It would be wise to try and see how you can incorporate these three elements in your social media strategy.
- Intention: to show human intentions, use your voice to contribute to the values people care about rather than seeing everything as ROI and business growth. Shake Shack is a restaurant that partners with Coachella and the charity No Kid Hungry to contribute to humane causes alongside its business profits.
- Effort: it’s a good idea to let your audience take a peek behind the scenes in your company. Share how the processes are handled inside your company. This could mean sharing fun content about people in your company and the roles they have in tackling customer needs, or sharing case studies of what you go through to solve customer problems. Also, take advantage of modern technology such as live chat (like Facebook Messenger) to connect with your audience in real-time.
- Authenticity: Use personal branding alongside your company branding to see the maximum effect. The owner of the company or anyone with a key role in it could be the face of the company and get your audience more engaged compared to your company’s social media account.
Candybar does a great job in humanizing their brand by giving people a sneak peek at how things are done in their company. Alicja Olko from ReferralCandy explains:
“It’s quite hard for ecommerce brands, SaaS products or digital solutions to maintain a dynamic social media presence and keep it interesting. Social media marketing is usually not the most important channel, but it’s vital for overall branding efforts. At ReferralCandy we are using social media to showcase the most crucial part of our business- our clients. We share their stories, their struggles and successes, hoping they will inspire others on their entrepreneurial journey.”
Alicja Olko, ReferralCandy
2- Encourage user-generated content
Survey shows that consumers are 2.4 times more likely to consider user-generated content (UGC) authentic compared to brand-generated content.
UGC success is mainly accounted for by its strong ties with word of mouth. According to a 2012 study by Nielsen group, 92% of people say they trust “earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”
One other pillar of user-generated content is customer loyalty. Loyal customers tend to produce content to recommend your products more often. So the success of your UGC campaigns is in great part dependent on how many loyal customers you have. According to Chatra, loyal customers are cheaper to acquire or retain, have higher life-time value, refer more customers, and spend more on your products or services.
When Dune London started showcasing user-generated content from their Instagram on their product detail pages and saw a significant lift in their sales as a result:
“in the two weeks after customer and blogger content from Instagram was brought onto product detail pages, sales in which shoppers interacted with UGC rose by 82%.”
A good way to encourage UGC is hosting a contest and asking users to post a photo, a story or a video with a special hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This is how Upwork did it on Instagram.
Another way to encourage user-generated content is asking your customers for honest reviews and posting them on social media. But asking for reviews without seeming too self-promotional might be a little difficult. Check out Omnisend’s guide on asking for reviews via email without sounding too salesy or promotional.
3- Have genuine desire to help
If you’ve started your business for the sake of profit, you’re missing how the dynamics of business success works. It’s true that money incentive plays an important role in having a business but the ultimate goal for a business is offering a solution to a problem a lot of people have. This is the concept referred to as “product-market fit” in business jargon: “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” Now if your product is not an in-demand solution to a common problem, it won’t be a good fit for that market, and obviously you won’t be able to make any money with it.
The bottom-line is if you want to sell more and be profitable, you’ll need to know how to genuinely help your audience solve their problem. Ironically, the more you engage with your audience and genuinely try to offer solutions to their problems, the more you increase sales.
When Close.com found out that their competitor, RelatedIQ, was acquired by Salesforce and no longer supported some countries, they jumped in through a Twitter conversation and offered an honest solution to the problem: they offered a product that can support international customers. Luckily enough it was their own product.
Chanty, a team communication and collaboration software, prioritizes its customers’ concerns on social media. Mile Živković, company’s marketing manager, explains:
We engage with our customers and anyone interested in our product whenever we have a chance. I would say at least 2-3 times per day is our standard, especially nowadays when we have lots of traffic coming in from Appsumo and similar channels. . . People don’t trust brands that don’t reply on social media. It takes just a few minutes and it can do wonders for your visibility and trust because others will see you replying to someone. I’ve seen lots of conversions happening because we were there to reply in time. A lot of time, people are on the brink of a purchase and they just want to ask that one last question. Be there and you’ve done something amazing.
Mile Živković, Chanty
Avoid hard-selling your products all the time and produce content that helps and educates your audience. Beardbrand does this in its Facebook ads. Instead of simply promoting their products in their ads, they offer video tutorials on beard grooming.
Speaking on non-product oriented posts on social media, one could think of supporting social/cultural/environmental causes as well. Everlane is a “socially and environmentally conscious clothing brand”. This is one of their Facebook ads that declared the company’s concerns about the world’s plastic problem.
4- Avoid shady techniques
It’s easy to use dishonest marketing techniques on social media. This could be posting false content about yourself or your competitors, using click-baits to increase the CTR, or using deceptive ads.
The truth is: Just as honest marketing techniques could increase sales and grow your business, dishonest and shady practices on social media could backfire. This could go deeper than losing people’s trust.
Famous brands such as Uber, Activia, and Volkswagen all were fined millions of dollars because of the deceptive ads. In 2014, Red Bull paid $10 to every US consumer who had bought the drink since 2002 only because they had the slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings” which was a false statement.
Some of the most repulsive deceptive ads and clickbaits are happening in mobile advertising. Chatmost placed a dirt mark on its banner ad so that people would try to clean it and touch the ad.
Kaiwei Ni, a Chinese sneakers manufacturer, used the same tactic for getting people to tap its ads. This time they placed a strand of hair on the picture in order to trick people into touching the screen.
The results of these tactics were nothing other than people’s distrust. In a short time these companies went viral as the examples of the companies using deceptive advertising. Lots of subreddits are talking about them and they got mentioned in big publications such as Adweek for their shady methods.
A better way to make your posts interesting and get clicks is making them visually appealing. Data visualization is one way to do so. Always create nice-looking visuals when sharing data on social media. Check out how you can create beautiful data visualizations with Venngage.
An oft-neglected key in authenticity:
Authenticity brings trust and engagement. But building trust and engagement on social media is a task that demands consistent work and dedication. You can’t just hop on and off social media and expect to be a blast. What you need to do is engage with people on social media and post authentic content consistently. Now to avoid spending all your day preparing and posting content on social media, you can use a social media scheduling and automation tool such as Blog2Social. It helps you organize all your social media accounts in one dashboard and get holistic insights on your content and audience. Consistent engaging your audience on social media is surely a great way to be authentic on social media.
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Mostafa Dastras is a writer at The Digital Project Manager, a leading digital project management resource hub and community run by the indie digital publishing team at Black & White Zebra. His work has appeared on some top publications such as HubSpot, WordStream, SmartInsights, LeadPages, Sendinblue and MarketingProfs. Visit his blog, LiveaBusinessLife or reach out via social to connect with him.