Consumers’ trust in brands is at an all-time low, and the social media sector has a lot to answer for.
Why? Because while social media channels offer marketers endless opportunities to reach new and existing customers, to users, they’re places that are dominated by ‘influencers’, sponsored content, fake followers, fake news and fake likes.
So it’s hardly surprising that customers are losing faith and switching off.
People are increasingly looking for content from sources that they can trust, so how can marketers gain the loyalty of today’s savvy and cynical consumers?
One solution involves being able to demonstrate ‘authenticity’ with your social media presence.
Read on to discover why authenticity is such an important part of social media marketing practice today, as well as learn how we do it here at Sendible.
What is authenticity on social media?
Demonstrating authenticity on social media is pretty simple in theory - it’s all about showing the real side of your brand or business to your followers.
Far from being another buzz word, authenticity in the social media realm represents a rejection of the fake and deceptive qualities that have defined social media marketing for the last few years.
According to marketing trend forecasts, the days of perfectly curated content are over.
Instead, it’s now all about capturing and embracing authentic, everyday moments in the form of photos and videos that your followers can quickly react to - think Instagram Stories.
The shift towards authentic marketing also represents an emerging trend in which consumers are choosing to buy from companies that share their moral, social and political beliefs.
However, jumping on the social cause bandwagon simply won’t do - we all remember the backlash that Pepsi faced in 2017 when their campaign, fronted by Kendall Jenner, appeared to trivialise the struggle of protest movements like Black Lives Matter in order to sell a fizzy drink.
Source: New York Times
The takeaway here is that projecting a sense of authenticity is a key marketing component - 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Brands nowadays must have a recognisable voice, face and opinion on social media, particularly to appeal to a millennial audience (without trying to ruffle too many feathers).
Pro Tip: To learn more about how millennials use social media, listen to our latest podcast episode here.
Why is displaying authenticity on social media so important?
Channelling authenticity through your brands’ social media presence is important for increasing sales and showing ROI.
The better the connection that brands can foster with prospective clients on social media, the more likely they are to engage with their content and purchase their product. In fact, 91% of consumers say that they are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity with a purchase, investment or endorsement.
Additionally, displaying authenticity on social media is important because social media feeds provide a great place to build up a unique picture of a brand. Often, feeds can help potential customers get a first impression of your brand, so the more authentic your content, the more likely they are to take interest and engage.
We've seen that even in times of crisis (like COVID-19), authenticity is one of the core principles to follow when creating relevant content.
Maintaining a consistent presence across social media channels helps your brand to build reliability, and any posts which display your brands’ interactions with customers, positive or negative, act as testimonials for your business. So, it’s important that potential customers are seeing the best side of your business on social.
Ultimately, if your goal is to succeed with social media marketing (whether that's generating sales or growing a following), you'll need to keep up with the times, channel authenticity and include brand storytelling.
How do we encourage authenticity on social media at Sendible?
At Sendible, authenticity is part of our manifesto - it’s a principle that we strive to honour every day. So much so, that it’s written on the wall of our office!
Here are just a few of the ways that we utilise the content on our social media feeds to emphasise authenticity. Feel free to try out some of our strategies (and let us know how you get on after!)
1. We show our faces as much as we can
There are over thirty-five real humans working behind the scenes of our company, and we’re keen to introduce our followers to every one of them.
We aim to use original images and videos featuring Sendible team members for all of our promotions. That means sharing plenty of team shots and updating our followers on day-to-day office antics.
We love this tactic because it acquaints our followers with our faces and personalities, building a sense of familiarity and rapport. Interestingly, according to research, photos that feature faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments on Instagram, so it’s certainly worth testing alongside engagement.
2. We are open about our successes and failures
Transparency is another of our core values and is something that we are mindful of when posting to our social media feeds. We update our followers on Sendible’s progress, as well as ask for advice when things aren’t going so well.
Displaying this level of vulnerability is certainly a gamble, but these types of posts have also achieved some of our highest engagement on social media. They work because they call on the community to have an input into the way our business is run. After all, who better to ask for help than a community of experienced social media managers and agency owners in the same position as us?
3. We feature our users as much as we can
Whether it’s sharing case studies, reviews or user-generated content from customers, we try to tell stories with customer-focused posts. We also make sure to tag anyone relevant for extra reach and engagement.
All of this helps us form close relationships with our customers, which in turn, builds a community of like-minded people around the Sendible brand.
It's #SmallBusinessSaturday 👩💻— Sendible (@Sendible) November 30, 2019
Show some ❤️ to this small, but mighty, agency 👉 @olivemilosocial 🐖🐈. They may have started with a pig (yes, really), but founder, Sophia has grown the agency to include a diverse range of over 30 clients! 💪 #girlpower pic.twitter.com/zIMFadBjI9
4. We avoid the hard sell and focus on how we can help our customers achieve their goals
We only create and share content that we think our followers will find useful and interesting. That means avoiding aggressive sales posts. Instead, we share resources and knowledge that will empower marketers.
One rule that we follow when producing promotional posts is to avoid interrupting what our followers are interested in, and instead be the what they’re interested in.
For our audience, that means sharing links to useful and informative industry articles, as well as speaking to industry voices and creating video content from their advice.
The golden rule is to always consider why your audience might want to see a post, and what value it will bring to them or their business.
Our brand new social media holiday calendar, for example, contains plenty of events that social media marketers could use to create content for social media to connect with their audiences and have a little bit of fun. It's all about sharing things that are useful!
Building a strong brand for your clients on #Instagram doesn’t happen by chance. 😎— Sendible (@Sendible) January 6, 2020
Thats where our free Instagram audit checklist comes in...👇#newyear #socialmediamarketing #digitalmarketing #smmhttps://t.co/zncEmTsiRB
5. We live and breathe our company values
Everything we post adheres to our CARE framework. In fact, our entire social media strategy is built around it! CARE stands for Curiosity, Authenticity, Reliability and Empowerment.
Our content creation process at Sendible involves looking at each of these values and shaping our calendar around them. For example, each week there should be at least four sets of posts which go out, with each set representing one of these values.
It’s always useful to have your brand values in mind when creating content for social media, since your posts should embody this message.
We live in an age where people want to share their opinions and experiences online and also be part of the brands they follow in an authentic and real way. Although this may present challenges to brands on social media, they must get on board for engagement rates to increase.
The beauty of social media for consumers is that you can be anyone you choose, but what marketers are quickly learning is that, for brands to be successful on social, it pays to simply be yourself.