There’s been a major shift in the way that people consume content and engage with the world around them.
When we’re constantly bombarded with messages of ‘fake news’, shallow reality TV shows and mad conspiracy theories it’s hardly surprising that what we crave most is the truth!
It’s widely acknowledged that perception is nine-tenths reality so you can tell everyone that you’re authentic until you’re blue in the face but, if your actions don’t back it up, you’ll be caught out soon enough.
Authentic is a definite buzz word at the moment – it’s bandied around as much as words like bespoke, humble and woke but it’s a word that shouldn’t be overlooked by any means.
Marketers love to chat about SEO, paid search and the monetary benefits of having a solid online presence but when it comes to content marketing then you can’t hide the fact that people want more from a business than simply a new pair of jeans or the latest phone.
Yes, you need all of the above to get your brand recognised but if you don’t have a solid, honest and genuine foundation then you’ll never reach your full potential.
A recent study showed that around 84% of Millennials don’t like advertising at all – they prefer consuming content that will enrich their lives (and brighten up their Instagram posts) – essentially, they’re after an experience whether they’re on or offline.
The vast majority of people who engage with your brand aren’t in desperate need of what you have to offer today. They may need your product or service in the future so your goal needs to be keeping these ‘tomorrow’ customers happy and engaged until they’re ready to make the purchase.
You can’t do this by selling at them time and time again.
Think about how you consume content; do you sit and watch commercial ad breaks with as much intensity as you do the latest episode of your favourite box set?
Now what if that break offered you a way to enrich your life, tips to make your business better, tips to get to sleep even after you have the best mattress available to mankind or how to get your kids to eat the damn peas after you’ve bought them?!
When it comes to your brand and your content marketing, the best writers and content makers aren’t necessarily the smartest or have the biggest vocabulary; the best writers are those who can convey an engaging and unforgettable personality.
Being able to get your personality across and truly reflect what your business believes in is a skill, and is one that should be practiced; because if you can create content that brims with personality, we guarantee that people will love reading it.
They’ll come back to it again and again.
They will share it.
Your personality becomes your authentic signature, a trademark that appeals to your target audience. Not to mention, it’ll serve as a source of incredible brand power and potential.
We’ve moved from a world where commerce was based on a ‘buyer beware’ mentality and now it’s a ‘seller beware’ – consumers have so much knowledge in the palm of their hand they can spot, and call you out, on false advertising or a brand attempting to cash in on a trend from a mile away.
Hands up if you remember Pepsi’s attempt to cash in on the Black Lives Matter protests with Kendall Jenner!
When content is genuinely coming from a good place then it can spark conversation and deep reflection.
Authenticity in it’s simplest and purest form is about honesty and trust.
It’s about living what you believe in and sharing that in every area of your business – from your hiring processes to your social media content.
Statistics and logic can go out of the window – authenticity is about building genuine relationships with mutual respect and it’s essential when it comes to customer engagement.
You’re selling the human in your business to the humans who buy from your business!
You better believe it!
According to a survey by Cohn and Wolfe, three-quarters of people don’t believe companies are transparent or even credible.
It also found that authenticity weighs significantly on how consumers behave, with 90% of respondents saying they are willing to reward brands for being authentic, and 20% replying that they’d be willing to invest in such brands.
Is there a downside to opening up and showing your true, authentic personality? Yes and no.
Being genuine, living your authentic life and sharing experiences and stories will always polarise. You can’t please everyone all of the time and if that’s what you’re after then promoting authenticity isn’t for you.
If you manage to annoy people, get people passionate and sharing opposing views it means you’re doing something right, that you’re standing up and promoting something worth standing up for.
That might mean you lose a potential customer along the way but flip that thought and consider if you really want to work with people who don’t share your values.
If you’re all about the money then that’s fine, but you’ll have a much better working relationship with clients and team members who all share similar values.
By sharing your true values and beliefs you will find it easier to build a supportive tribe around you – brand ambassadors and early adopters who want to be in on your latest product or service and can’t wait to shout about you and be associated with you online.
How powerful is it to have people sharing how much they love you and your business?
Well, recent research shows that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews before considering a purchase.
If you think word of mouth is a thing of the past then think again!
Being authentic is ridiculously easy but can be scary at the same time. After all, it can show a level of vulnerability that maybe you’re used to hiding away but here’s the thing, if you’re in a place where you’re comfortable sharing your real self then you will have a supportive audience.
People can tell what’s genuine and what isn’t. They know if you’re coming from a good place or just trying to jump on a band wagon.
If everything you do and say and write is about helping others in some way and not about making a sale then you will see an increase in engagement.
Here’s a few tips to help you on your way:
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET TO MENTOR: Don’t come at your content marketing from a position of selling. Come at it from a position of adding extra value. What insights or advice can you offer your audience that can improve their lives, either personally or professionally.
CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO: Henry Ford once said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Don’t write what you think people want to hear, it might look like an easy win but if it means going against your beliefs for a quick quid then you’ll soon lose out.
STAND UP FOR SOMETHING: We all live in the world; business is a part of it, not separate from it. What matters to you? What do you value? How does it influence the way you do business? Take a fierce stand for what you believe in.
OPEN UP: Tell a personal story or give an example from your own life—that time you made a mistake with a client and the lesson you learned. Your family experience growing up and how that turned you into the person you are. Don’t hide from your real self – but in the same breath, only share what you’re comfortable with – we all deserve an element of privacy.
MAKE US LAUGH: There’s enough doom and gloom in the World so make us smile. It could be a meme, a funny anecdote or a picture of the sofa that your naughty pooch has chewed while you nipped out. Smiling is infectious so go use that super power for good.
We’d love to know if you have any stories to share or how you share your authentic self online so leave us a comment or get in touch on our socials.
For more on how we can help you make an impact online then contact our content team today!