How to Showcase your Authenticity on Social Media

Jul 18, 2018

Authenticity and trust are important words in business. They have always been important. But their importance has increased manifold in today’s noisy social media world where people are bombarded with content from all sides.

A foolproof way to help your customers choose 'you' in the midst of all this noise is to build your trust and authenticity. Showcasing your authenticity on social media can help you grow your business in multiple ways:

  • It can help you retain existing customers
  • It can help you gain new customers in new markets
  • It can help you gain a competitive edge
  • It can give you a unique positioning – USP can be a valuable asset

How to showcase your authenticity on social media: 3 actionable tips

Note that my heading says ‘showcase‘ your authenticity, not ‘pretend‘ that you are authentic. You cannot showcase something that you do not have.

If you are not sure of your authenticity, first you need to build your authenticity as a brand from within and then start showcasing it.

1. Remove ‘un-authenticity' from within

The great sculptor Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it“. He discovered each of his statues by chiselling away the unwanted pieces and allowing the statue to emerge from within the stone.

Building authenticity in business is something similar to sculpting.

You have to keep removing the ‘unauthentic’ parts of your organisation one by one, until you reach a stage when your ‘authenticity’ starts emerging. When you do that, your customers and stakeholder will start noticing it, appreciate it, talk about it to others and stay with you for a long time.

What to remove from your organisation:

  • Remove false promises. Be honest and truthful about what you can do and what you cannot do.
  • Remove products and services that are not helping your customers or do not meet the quality standards.
  • Remove unhelpful customer care systems & support teams that do not care.
  • Remove empty words in your marketing campaigns that you don’t mean.
  • Remove the culture that puts building profits ahead of building trust.

2. Listen before creating content

Before I talk about listening, I am assuming that you are committed to consistently creating value-adding content for your audience and are committed to promoting it on social media. These are foundational steps for building authenticity. If you haven't started this process yet, I suggest you stop everything and work on it first. Here is a list of useful articles on content creation and packaging to help you with this.

Once you have your content creation process in place, focus on creating content based on what you learn from your customers when you listen them.

You can listen in person or listen remotely/indirectly using technology.

  • In-person active listening can be done through personal interviews, email surveys and social media polls. Ask your audience what their pain point is. Ask them what they like to learn about. Then create content accordingly.
  • Remote passive listening can be done using technology like heatmap tools to track their behaviour on your website or apps and using tools like flow visualisation report by Google Analytics to see how they journey through your website visiting various pages. You can also track your internal search tool to see what your customers are searching for.

Implement such tools and understand what your customers need. Then work towards creating content that fulfils those needs.

3. Embrace negative reviews about your failures

Negative reviews on social media or trolls talking about your failure stories need not be a bad thing. You don't have to ignore them or delete them on social media. You can use them.

One of my favorite ‘authenticity’ case studies is from Hootsuite. They took some of the ‘mean tweets’ that they received about the design and user interface of their old dashboard and used it in their campaign to promote their new revamped dashboard.

As you can see, some of the tweets were really mean. But because they talked about them, it diluted the meanness and showcased the authenticity of the brand.

You can see how people appreciate it in the YouTube comments that this video received. Later they even came up with a brilliant guide on how to deal with ‘Trolls on Social Media’.

Most online audience are gracious these days, they know and understand that mistakes happen. Consumers know that all organisations have a bad day once in a while.

When you learn how to embrace your failures, admit them, talk about them and be ready to set them right, then your authenticity starts shining on social media and you will emerge a winner.

BONUS Tip: Focus on your expertise and promote other experts.

Many organisations try to be all things to all people. This dilutes authenticity.

We live in a world of specialisation. And your audience understand that. If you specialise in solving just one problem and you are able to focus all your social media efforts on it, your audience will still love you for that. They know how to find others to solve their other problems.

In fact you can help them in that process by promoting other experts. This will boost your authenticity.

If you know other brands that offer products and services that can help your audience achieve their goals, by all means promote them. Your ultimate goal should be to help your audience win.

Of course you could become an affiliate or partner with other brands and make some money promoting them, but even if you don't do any of that, you could still promote them just to help your audience.

For example: If you run a fitness studio, instead of always talking about your own facilities and programs on social media, you could promote a fitness equipment or a food product or an online course on fitness that will truly help your audience.

Let me know if you have any question or have additional thoughts on authenticity using the comments section.

Now, go be authentic!

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