If you want people to connect with your brand — and truly connect, not just hit that follow or subscribe button and never check back in — you need to authentically share your brand story. Social media is a great tool to show the real side of your brand, from behind-the-scenes of products to office events to unfiltered photos and reviews. Building authenticity into your social media strategy includes staying true to your brand values, talking one-on-one to customers, and owning up to mistakes.
While crafting an effective social media strategy means getting your brand into the public’s awareness, how you tell your brand story is crucial to maintaining a relationship with your customers. Being authentic and humanizing your brand is how you make your brand story memorable, engaging, and yours.
Tenents of Authenticity In Your Social Media Approach
Authenticity is key to customers trusting your brand. Brands are competing on the idea of who can be the most authentic. No one is going to win that award — for one, it doesn’t exist, and two, that level of competition can cause brands to misrepresent themselves in the effort of appearing authentic. Authenticity comes from being genuine so stop overthinking and actually just be real.
There is no room for gimmicks. People believe brands have a responsibility to be transparent. In fact, businesses are the most trusted institution, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, surpassing NGOs, the government, and the media. Maintaining that level of trust with consumers means being transparent about your brand’s values, missions, company culture, product, sustainability efforts, and more.
Authenticity is not a fake it until you make it gig, so don’t try to fake it. Not everything has to be perfect. Let your humanity show through silly and unfiltered photos. Don’t over-edit or photoshop your images and products to appear as something they are not.
If you don’t have a DTC site, then tell consumers where they can go to buy your products. A lot of brands try to work around this and it only causes more confusion. And if your customers are confused, they’re unlikely to return to your brand. Ensure your product descriptions and company information are all correct and up-to-date so consumers know what they are investing in.
Consumers expect brands to have a voice that speaks on bigger social issues and topics. This means being inclusive and aware of what’s happening around the world, as well as understanding the issues that are relevant to your customers. While customers’ social consciousness was rising, the pandemic helped cement socially conscious shoppers as a significant portion of the new pandemic personas. According to Businesswire, 70% of consumers want to know what brands are doing to address social and environmental issues.
Be careful, however, to not jump on the social cause bandwagon just because. These socially conscious shoppers are not interested in patronizing brands that engage in lip service or performative allyship on important days that have been reduced to a hashtag. Make sure your internal team thoroughly understands the social cause(s) your brand is claiming to stand for. And make sure your brand’s actions and values support what you post as well.
Take ownership of any mistakes or errors you make; after all, you are only human. If you made a mistake, apologize; if there’s a delay in orders or shipment, update your customers; if a product misses the mark, own up to it.
Sometimes social media can be nice about your mistakes, like the rush of support of been there when an HBO Max intern sent out a test email. Openly apologize if needed — and make sure your apology is actually an apology. Don’t delete negative comments, but address them head-on. Be professional in all your responses.
Consistency matters, both in terms of scheduling so your brand is reliable, but in messaging and how you present yourself. This means making sure your content fits the reality of your brand’s values, mission, culture, and goals. Maintain a consistent brand voice and experience so customers trust you and follow you across platforms.
Brands have to find a balance. While they need to demonstrate empathy, inclusivity, and awareness, they also need to not be tone-deaf to current social crises or performative. This list is nowhere near exhaustive and each brand has to find a social media strategy that aligns with who they are and what message they want to send.
The point of social media is to have fun and connect with people, so humanizing your brand can help you tell your story, authentically and genuinely. As such, authenticity boils down to being yourself; your brand has a lot of unique products to share and truly interesting employees that make magic happen every day. Social media helps you engage with your followers on their time and platform of choice, so truly connect with them. Share your story and welcome them along on the journey.