Being Authentic with Social Marketing

Being Authentic with Social Marketing

The Internet is a land of anonymity and virtual appearances. Nothing is out there that you haven’t provided yourself, right? On the Internet today, you couldn’t be more wrong. Maybe ten years ago, people and businesses could get away with being a little less than honest about themselves online without any serious questioning, but it’s a much different landscape in these days of fact-checking and social networking. Companies are not only putting themselves “out there” by establishing social media outlets for their customers to connect with them through, but CEOs themselves are making appearances in marketing campaigns to add authenticity to their businesses. So why is authenticity so important, and how authentic is too authentic?

While it may seem like a buzz word for social media strategy, being authentic is a word and an action that could make or break your campaign. It’s no secret that, in recent years, people — and therefore, customers — have become disillusioned with corporations, sales pitches, and commercials. AdBlock has become one of the most popular plugins for all major Internet services, a trend that demonstrates how sick people are of the flashy slogans and in-your-face advertisements that are littered throughout their lives. Customers yearn for connections with real people, which is something social marketing can adapt to.

How much is too much?
No matter what medium you decide to use to reach people online — blogs, Facebook pages, videos, websites — you have to decide how much of yourself to put into them. It’s easy to fall into a “less is more” mode of thinking because it seems safe, but it won’t earn any trust or loyalty. A campaign also shouldn’t slip into old habits like creating an artificial spokesman that can be puppeteered by anyone. That is a strategy that reeks of dishonesty and won’t electrify your audience. No, in the world of social networking, putting a real face and name on a marketing campaign is the key to success.

Who is the face of your brand?
Once you have established an online presence, the face you put on it can be anyone from the head of the company to an employee. As long as the person is an active part of the business, they can serve as the face of your brand. From there, they can broadcast the company’s message, interact with customers, field questions, and essentially build relationships that develop into a far-reaching customer base. There is a dark side to all of this honesty, however. If something goes wrong with the product, message, or service, customers will air their grievances online for all to see. That’s when authenticity becomes a question of disclosure.

Who takes the blame?
A person’s first instinct, whether in business or personal matters, is to defend themselves and avoid blame for a problem. That is when it’s important to rise above that instinct and give a clear message of what went wrong, why, and how you intend to fix things. It’s no different in terms of marketing online. No one, as a person or a business, is perfect. There will be problems along the way. Dealing with them openly will create a level of trust with your customers that a cheesy slogan never could. So, how authentic can you be with social marketing? More authentic than you think.

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