Branding & authenticity in social media
Whether you are just starting out in social media or looking to increase followers and engagement with your existing social media presence, the approach to gaining the right audience for your organization is the same – communicating with an authenticity that makes your brand trustworthy.
What does “authenticity” mean anyway? In this context, I am talking about communicating the human side, the personality of your business. No customer or donor, especially, wants to feel like they are unimportant and that you don’t really care if they buy your product or service, or donate to their cause. The value is in the personal experience they walk away with, or more so in these first stages of meeting, they just want to know that you are interested. Let’s think of it like dating…
- First Impression
So you’ve met online, they like the look of your website and it sounds like you might have the qualities that they are looking for in a service or the kind of organization they want to make a donation to. They’re excited and intrigued by what you’ve written about yourself and want to learn more about you. They decide to follow you on social media so they can learn more about you.
DO – Thank them for following you from a real-life human, not an automated message.
The human element is a huge part of being authentic. People want to feel that they are connecting to a real-life person and able to have a personal, approachable experience with your organization.
DON’T – Send an automated, impersonal direct message (DM) to them with a direct sell when they follow you on social media.
I know it may seem less work and tempting to set up an automated message selling your latest product when someone follows your social media, but in the long run, most of the time it just annoys and turns people off your business or product immediately. No one wants to have a generic sales pitch thrown at them or feel they are speaking to a contrived, sales-heavy or manipulative organization.
By keeping them as a follower, they will already be receiving information about your business through your posts, so you don’t need to throw that at them a minute after they have shown interest. This is like talking about how you already have a wedding venue and kid’s names chosen for your future wedding, on the first date.
2. Getting to know you
Now they are a follower, you want to keep them interested as they get to know you better.
DO – Post more images.
Images give a visual experience of your brand and help the customer or donor get to know your personality and feel a connection with your brand. Even posting a candid image of your staff at the work picnic or in the lunchroom can give a friendly and approachable snapshot of the culture and personality of your brand which in turn makes you appear more authentic.
DON’T – Just post about yourself.
No one likes a conceited know-it-all. Be sure to post other articles or information that is relevant to your brand or industry. Referencing other knowledge pools is a great way to not only share content that you didn’t have to write yourself, but it also helps you to show that you are a leader and know what that latest news is in your field. This also opens doors for collaboration and networking with other organizations in your industry.
DO – Write like you are writing on your own personal social media profile
A huge facet of being authentic is coming across as personable and approachable. Keep in line with your brand’s voice by writing in a personal, friendly language, as if you were writing on your own social media page. Being consistent and familiar to your brand gives people a sense of honesty and genuineness that shows that there is a real person writing and responding to questions or comments about your content.
DON’T – Spam your followers
People don’t use social media to be thrown sales pitches or advertisements all day long – they want to find relevant content for them and keep informed and of course, socialize! Make sure your content is original and you are not posting the same post over and over again – or you may end up on Google’s list of spammers and no one wants that.
3. Starting to Date
Now you have them as a follower and if they feel like they have a connection with the “authentic you” they may start to engage with you and your content.
DO – Talk to people with real conversation
And of course, there’s no better way to show how authentic you are than by having one on one personal conversations in real-time with real humans.
Monitor comments and re-tweets by your followers and make sure you respond in a timely manner, especially if they have an issue. This shows you really care about them and helps to strengthen their relationship with your brand. Anyone who sees the conversation thread will also see you as more authentic.
DON’T – Give cookie cutter responses
No one likes a one-way conversation and responding to comments or questions with a robotic template response such as ‘please call… and we will get back to you’ is not going to elicit any kind of feel-good emotional reaction from your customer or donor. If they are contacting you online, respond to them through the same medium and customize each response to the individual inquiry. You can always ask them if they would like you to give them a call to discuss further, but be sure to address their specific inquiry or issue.
4. Staying together
Now it’s all about keeping your relationship moving forward. When followers have a loyalty to your brand and the relationship that you have built, you want to ensure that you maintain that authenticity by continuing to produce the type of content they subscribed to in the first place.
DO – Make sure your posts are relevant to your audience
If people are subscribing or following your feeds, it’s because they value your content and it is relevant to them. Make sure you are posting what is in alignment with your brand voice and industry. By building a strong affiliation with reputable industry experts, organizations or best practice, your brand will also gain clout for being an authentic point of reference for industry-specific information and knowledge.
DON’T – Post articles which may not be from reputable sources or could offend in any way
This kind of goes without saying, but if in doubt – don’t post it. It is important to share content that your organization aligns with. The act of sharing something often gives the impression that your organization agrees or endorses the content. Be sure there is nothing that people could be offended by or take the wrong way. People will be very quick to unfollow or unsubscribe to you if they read something that they don’t feel is professional or if they feel you are endorsing a questionable resource.
Overall, if you are able to put some of these strategies in place, your audience will no doubt start to feel a more authentic voice for your brand and you’re well on your way to building a positive digital reputation. Like any good relationship, it takes time and effort to build but it is totally worth it.
All images courtesy of Giphy.