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What Does Brand Authenticity Look Like on Social Media in 2019?

Khoros Staff PhilG
Khoros Staff

The honeymoon phase between consumers and social media is over. People are no longer wowed by the “newness” of social media or content with brands simply being present on their favorite platforms. In fact, a Marketing Land article found that people are growing more skeptical of businesses on social media.

Amid fake news and privacy concerns, it’s more important than ever for companies to focus on building trust through authentic interactions with their audience on social media. But what exactly does it mean to be authentic on social media? And how do you know if your brand is doing a good job of authentically engaging with your audience?

In this post, we’re touching on the four fundamentals of brand authenticity in 2019, and what they mean for the future of social media:

1. Understand your purpose

Authenticity can only occur when you understand your purpose.

Motivational speaker Simon Sinek helps entrepreneurs get to the core of their business. Sinek went viral in 2009 after he delivered a TED Talk that discussed the relationship between success and understanding the underlying purpose of an organization. The famous presentation has since been viewed over 45 million times and Sinek has become a bestselling author for the “golden circle theory” which resulted from that TED Talk.

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According to Sinek, all organizations understand what they do — such as selling a product or service. Some organizations understand how they do it — which includes the unique factors and processes that set them apart from competitors. However, very few organizations understand why they do what they do — and profit isn’t the answer (profit is a result). Rather, the why is the cause or belief that explains your organization’s existence.

Businesses often choose to use social media as a way to promote products and services, but few do a good job of relaying their “why” across digital platforms. Relaying the “why” of your company is essential because consumers are more likely to trust businesses that promote their values over pushing their products, Sinek explains.

2. Know your audience

Understanding your organization isn’t enough — you also need to understand your audience to provide authentic interactions and meaningful content that’s relevant to their needs.

Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos is renowned for its excellent customer service, which starts with a strong commitment to learning about their audience.

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As part of onboarding, all Zappos employees are required to get in depth-call center training and spend at least one week working in customer support. This helps new employees understand the audience and their pain points so they can keep the customer in mind with everything they do.

In fact, Zappos offers a $2,000 bonus to employees who choose to quit after the first week as a way to filter out new hires who aren’t passionate about helping their audience.

How well do you understand your audience? Do you know what matters to them, and what they like and dislike about your business? These factors are essential to consider when creating a social media strategy that emphasizes authenticity.

Learn how Khoros Intelligence can help you understand your audience and engage with them through authentic interactions.

3. Focus on personal interactions

We’ve all been there: waiting to speak with a living and breathing human, only to find ourselves saying pre-selected phrases to a robot. Many people get upset when they are unable to speak with a real person after calling customer support, and the same principle holds true for social media. Automated responses or copy and paste replies diminish the authenticity of brands in digital spaces.

Generic responses come off as robotic and impersonal. Even worse, generic responses to negative comments may further aggravate consumers.

Commenting on positive customer experiences is an important practice and should be done in a way that makes the customer feel uniquely valued. Personal replies like the examples below help consumers see an organization as a team of real people dedicated to serving them.

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Create personal and authentic interactions with your audience by focusing on being responsive and genuine. Don’t let questions go unanswered or compliments go ignored. Let your audience know you appreciate their feedback and that they matter to your brand.

It’ll help your bottom line: too: according to the Harvard Business Review, it’s five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Additionally, building strong relationships with current customers can help them become advocates for your brand.

4. Create meaningful content

Great content is what keeps people coming back to your social media page. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every tweet, but you should strive to do something notable every once in a while with a high-effort post. Consider your available time and resources to determine how often you can create high-effort content without sacrificing quality. Some ideas include looking for important moments to share and inspiring stories to tell. Or go behind the scenes to give your audience insight into your brand.

Nike is known for sharing inspiring stories, but in 2018 they made headlines for their “Dream Crazy” ad featuring former NFL athlete Colin Kaepernick, among others. At the time, Kaepernick was a source of controversy following his decision to kneel during the pre-game anthem, but Nike’s ad didn’t carry an overtly political message.

Instead, the ad shared stories of athletes who triumphed over adversity and unfathomable odds to make their dream a reality. Nike encouraged viewers to follow their dreams, exceed the achievements of their icons, and set a new standard of excellence for generations to come.

The results of the ad were astounding. CNBC reported that the video generated an estimated $43 million in media exposure within the first 24 hours, and it went on to receive over 65 million views in just five days.

The video, which you can view above, is a great example of meaningful content, but few organizations can regularly create marketing materials at this quality level. Luckily, there are several ways for organizations to create content that adds authenticity to their brand without breaking the bank.

Some great strategies to consider include:

Incorporating employee spotlights

Tell the world about your talented team by posting about your employees on social media. Showcase their skills and share brief bios including hobbies and interests.

Using nano-influencers

Collaborate with nano-influencers (<5,000 followers) through joint projects and giveaways. Additionally, look at their content and see what your audience enjoys about it.

Posting about office events

Share pictures from the yearly costume contest or ugly sweater party. These events help consumers see your organization as a family opposed to just a workplace.

What brand authenticity means for the future of social media

Social media platforms will rise and fall in the coming years, but data shows us what trends are likely to stick around. According to the American Press Institute, consumers are becoming more skeptical of content they see on social media. To combat this, businesses should aim to build trust through authenticity with audiences.

Learn how Khoros can help your business establish authenticity and create customers for life using our best-in-class social media management platform.