Evoking authenticity is the most effective way of marketing to younger audiences and those unfamiliar with your brand. Today's customers are more media literate, tech-savvy, and socially aware. They care more about causes, but they can also spot false advertising or a brand trying to cash in on important issues or trends.
For instance, consider the backlash Pepsi and Kendall Jenner received after their 2017 "Live for Now" ad. People criticized them for their seemingly tone-deaf approach to protests, especially since the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining traction at around that time. Both parties had since apologized, but the ad and the furor it caused is—for better or for worse—an indelible part of pop culture.
Authentic marketing is an indispensable part of successful branding. Here are some things to consider regarding authenticity in marketing.
What Makes Content Authentic?
It's always easier to tell people what they need to do to 'be more authentic.' After all, if you embody something, it is—to a large extent—unconscious behavior. However, brands cannot rely on simply embodying their values or goals. Things have to be more strategic.
The specifics of evoking authenticity vary from one brand to another, but you can follow some guidelines to start. First of all, your brand can show its trustworthiness by having a consistent voice. Whether it's humorous and casual or authoritative and serious, use it in everything—blog posts, social media updates, ad copy, email newsletters, and more. Note that if you've been writing a certain way in your materials for some time, your audience will notice if you're trying to shift.
Media and Gossip Can Influence Public Opinion
No matter how rational you think you are, your buying decisions are likely the result of emotions, not reasoning. Some brands like Nike or Apple have an intensely loyal fanbase because of the emotions their ads elicit. Customers see these ads as an authentic expression of the brand's vision.
Authenticity is not about showing the best statistics of your brand. It isn't about presenting your product or service as the logical choice, either. You cannot expect customers to choose your products because you said you're the best in the field, even if it is true. You need to demonstrate your trustworthiness and credibility through authentic content.
Why Think of Authenticity in Marketing?
When you make authenticity one of your guideposts in creating content, you refine your target audience. You show credibility through carefully-researched and meaningful campaigns. In turn, these attract people who relate to your content. Insiders and those learning about your industry also listen to you when you write this way.
Authenticity makes you a top choice for searches, which could lead to a purchase, brand loyalty, and even advocacy. When you are authentic, you encourage people to say nice things about your company, which generates more interest. Authentic, personalized content will not attract everyone in a niche, but you will be more likely to convert when you fine-tune your audience size. You're also more likely to establish relationships, leading to repeat customers.
Authentic Content Marketing: Where to Start
Behind-the-scenes content and brand storytelling allow the audience a peek into how the company works. At the very least, this is intriguing for regular customers. Besides finding your voice, you can personalize your branded content by using your own experiences. Use your research, share screenshots, and lean into your industry experience to establish yourself as an authority.
If you're new in your field, you might balk at the idea of establishing authority. After all, many others have more experience than you. However, it is possible to be credible even as a newbie.
You do not achieve this by pretending to know more than you do and trying to keep up with your more experienced peers—that's a recipe for failure. Instead, focus on helping people like you, those who are only starting. For example, you can have a series of blogs discussing industry basics. A company focused on graphic design, for example, could write about the importance of following graphic design principles when building a website.
Established brands could have a weekly Q&A or FAQ session with followers of their social accounts. This is a direct, personal way of interacting with your followers, and it helps "put a face" to your company. Another way to establish authority while interacting with readers or viewers is by holding regular workshops or critiquing sessions. For example, a photographer can have his followers send in photos for him to critique. Connecting with an audience is easier when they can see an employee or an executive from the company.
Gather Social Proof When Possible
Prove that your business is credible and legitimate by providing social proof of your success, your track record, and how clients or customers have experienced success because of your company. Positive reviews, customer testimonials, and user-generated content are all evidence you would want to show on social platforms or your website.
Credibility through social proof also means being careful about your research. Exert utmost diligence in screening your sources and providing reliable statistics. Your claims should always resonate emotionally at first, but closer scrutiny should provide sound logic or empirical evidence.
Always Keep the Audience or User in Mind
Digital marketing is highly subjective. There are no agreed-upon standards for effectiveness in the industry, but professionals who have been practicing in the field for years know what makes audiences pay attention. Focusing on the end-user experience will help your authenticity. After all, being authentic means being true to oneself. If a company is true to itself, everything it does should be for its services and products' continuous improvement.
Link Your Marketing Efforts with Others'
Finally, if you have your brand voice down and are consistent in your marketing and promotional materials, you can start reaching out for collaborations. Besides guest posts, you could have projects or campaigns linking your brand with others in your niche.
Authenticity is vital in content marketing since it's what attracts customers to a brand. If people relate to the values you profess, your aesthetic, or how you talk, they will be more likely to stick around. You should also get SEO specialists, branding experts, and other marketing professionals to help you find your brand voice.
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