William Shakespeare once said in the classic novel Hamlet “To thine own self be true,” and nothing is more accurate than when it comes to social media. With the advent of AI-generated text and images, filtered photos, and overblown claims, social media can be used to tell countless stories, but unfortunately, not all of them are true.
Cost of Inauthenticity
When a brand uses social media and isn’t true to itself, ignores feedback, and sometimes misrepresents its products, it loses credibility with its audience, which can translate into loss of potential followers and subsequently, loss of sales. That’s because today’s savvy customers can spot inauthenticity a mile away and are likely to call a business out for it when they do.
You know the damage inauthenticity can cause your brand, but let’s focus on the positives. Authenticity, in turn, provides ample opportunities to show who you are and what you stand for, engage your customers and positively affect your sales pipeline!
Examples of Authentic Social Voices
A great example of authenticity in social media is Patagonia. Patagonia is an outdoor clothing company that sells clothing, shoes, and accessories for outdoor adventurers. Its commitment to the environment sets Patagonia apart from other outdoor apparel companies. Many of Patagonia’s products use recycled materials, such as recycled fishnets recovered from the ocean. Patagonia also uses organic materials such as organic cotton in its products.
If you look at Patagonia’s social media, you will see that its brand’s mission is carried through in everything they post. The company constantly talks about its green initiatives, features green products, and frequently mentions its commitment to sustainability in its posts. With so many customers making more conscious choices about what they purchase, showcasing their commitment to the environment only earns the company more credibility, further cementing its authenticity with followers.
Another great example of authenticity in social media is Dunkin’ Donuts. When you think of a visit to Dunkin’ Donuts, you think of delicious pastries, coffee, and of course, lots of fun, and Dunkin’ Donuts has made that their trademark. With their catchphrase “America Runs on Dunkin’,” the brand uses UGC to show everyday people and their love of Dunkin’ products.
Because Dunkin’ has stayed authentic to its social media voice, its 2.2 million followers look forward to their playful, clever, and vibrant posts on Instagram.
How to Be Authentic On Social Media
Determining what that voice sounds like is the first step in growing your authentic brand voice. Is your brand sleek and sophisticated? Fun and playful? Are you a green business like Patagonia or fun and playful like Dunkin’ Donuts? Do you give to community causes? Does your product hit a pain point or solve a common dilemma? Now you need to show it.
Whether it’s a soothing tone for a spa or images of lavish weddings for an event venue, your audience can get a feel for your brand’s vibe and, over time, will grow to trust and know what to expect from it. Don’t forget to follow through on your website and marketing emails, too. Your voice must be consistent across all channels to keep your followers returning for more.
According to the New York Times, more consumers are eschewing search engines when it comes to searching for products and instead relying more on direct visits to websites, reviews, and of course, social media. This means you need to capture their attention where they’re looking. To do this, there are several key steps:
- Keep your brand voice consistent across all channels.
- Allow customer feedback and respond to it, especially if it’s negative. When responding, don’t use canned or generic responses, and try to mention the customer’s name in your response.
- Showcase images and text that resonates with your key audience and accurately reflects your brand. You can determine your key audience by analyzing KPIs, followers, and customer data, but this isn’t always enough to measure how well the authenticity of your brand resonates.
- Be inclusive in your marketing and on your social media and website. Whether it’s showcasing diverse models or UGC and making your site accessible to everyone, today’s customer is looking for inclusivity across all your channels. In fact, according to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, consumers are more likely to buy from inclusive brands.
Remember, authenticity is as essential to your brand as to your product or service. Without coming across as authentic, you lose credibility and your audience’s trust, which can translate into a loss of followers and sales.
Your product or service (and its voice!) is unique in its own right, so showcase that in your social media. Once your followers get to know you, you can expect more engagement with your posts, translating into more business. Remember, while authenticity cannot be measured by data, sales figures, and engagement can.