Way before the pandemic hit, social media was experiencing a seismic erosion of trust. The Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the rise in ‘Fake News’ were just two events that significantly changed the way users consume social media content. Concerns grew exponentially that global media was contaminated with untrustworthy information and that fake news could be used as a dangerous weapon.

2020, however, became the year that we stopped talking about social detoxing and instead increased our time on social media. For many, social media became one of the only ways to be with family and friends. People flocked to new platforms such as TikTok and returned to old ones such as Facebook (even after a temporary desertion after the data scandal). The new normal, where many more of our daily interactions are mediated by screens, has made us change the way we behave on those platforms, with the realities of pandemic life crowding out some of social media’s posturing and over-promotion.

As a result, today’s consumers have become belief-driven buyers, choosing principle over product. They believe brands can be a powerful force for change and support brands who are willing to take a stand.

Why is authenticity so important?

As human beings, trust is the glue that holds any meaningful relationship together, whether that’s with a family member, a friend, or a customer. In the business world, trust is what keeps your employees engaged, it’s how you keep investors in play, and ultimately, it is how you build longstanding relationships with your customers.

What about authenticity then?

Well, authenticity is the key for building trust. By keeping it real, the relationship between your brand and followers becomes stronger, increasing the customers’ engagement, respect, and even, loyalty. And what is brand loyalty if not a competitive advantage? Fostering authenticity through brand’s social media efforts is important for increasing sales and increasing your ROI – 91% say they are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity with a purchase, investment, or endorsement, while 62% would purchase from a brand they regard as authentic.

Indeed, authenticity is also about perception and how brands are perceived. When a customer knows they support an authentic and honest brand, it triggers a positive feeling about their own choices. And who doesn’t want to feel good?

Authenticity on social media might have various definitions and implications. For generation X and Baby Boomers authenticity is seen more as “personal relationships with brands”. For Millennials authenticity seems to be more related to “personal attention”, innovation and social consciousness. Whatever the definition, there’s only one end goal for social media authenticity: making you trustworthy. At the end of the day, everything you do to be authentic on social media is so you can be worthy of people’s trust. For brands to be successful on social, it pays to be authentic and consistent in your values. That’s a reality brands need to adjust to. The question is, how?

If you’re going to talk the talk, then walk the walk

Ask yourself this question. Why does your brand exist? Is it to solve a problem? Is it to make a difference in people’s lives? What is your companies mission statement that makes your business tick? Once you’ve answered these questions and integrated the deeper meaning of why your business exists, you can start implementing this strategy into every aspect of your business.

Humanise your brand

Make sure that people understand your brand is more than a self-serving money-making machine which most other companies out there. People tend to interact more with businesses that show human traits such as intentions, efforts, and authenticity. Try and see how you can incorporate these three elements in your social media strategy.

  • Intention: to show human intentions, use your voice to contribute to the values people care about rather than seeing everything as ROI and business growth.
  • Effort: it’s a good idea to let your audience take a peek behind the scenes in your company. Share how the processes are handled inside your company. This could mean sharing fun content about people in your company and the roles they have in tackling customer needs or sharing case studies of what you go through to solve customer problems.
  • Authenticity: use personal branding alongside your company branding to see the maximum effect. The owner of the company or anyone with a key role in it could be the face of the company and get your audience more engaged compared to your company’s social media account.

Have genuine desire to help

If you’ve started your business for the sake of profit, you’re missing how the dynamics of business success works. It’s true that money incentive plays an important role in having a business but the ultimate goal for a business is offering a solution to a problem a lot of people have. This is the concept referred to as “product-market fit” in business jargon: “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” Now if your product is not an in-demand solution to a common problem, it won’t be a good fit for that market, and obviously you won’t be able to make any money with it.

The bottom-line is if you want to sell more and be profitable, you’ll need to know how to genuinely help your audience solve their problem. Ironically, the more you engage with your audience and genuinely try to offer solutions to their problems, the more you increase sales.

Skip the call to actions for a minute

As we all know, the point of marketing is to encourage and create an opportunity for people to buy your product/service and with this in mind your social media strategy shouldn’t be any different, yet, it can be good to take a break from the “buy now” and call – to – actions now and then. Connect with your audience, create positive, meaningful interactions and brand moments that will encourage them to keep seeing your business as the “go-to” solution for their needs.

If you mess up, own it

We’ve all been there, a typo, bad grammar or a reply that didn’t go down well. The immediate reaction when this happens is to delete the post and forget it ever happened, but we wouldn’t recommend doing this. Instead, own up to your mistake, take responsibility and always remember, there’s a way to fix it – now if that’s not called being authentic, we don’t know what is!

Avoid shady techniques

It’s easy to use dishonest marketing techniques on social media. This could be posting false content about yourself or your competitors, using click-baits to increase the CTR, or using deceptive ads. The truth is: just as honest marketing techniques could increase sales and grow your business, dishonest and shady practices on social media could backfire. This could go deeper than losing people’s trust.

Encourage user-generated content

Surveys shows that consumers are 2.4 more likely to consider user-generated content (UGC) authentic compared to brand-generated content. UGC success is mainly accounted for by its strong ties with word of mouth. Another pillar of user-generated content is customer loyalty. Loyal customers tend to produce content to recommend your products more often. So, the success of your UGC campaigns is partly dependent on how many loyal customers you have.

So, what are the main take-aways here..?

  • Be Human. Its more relatable.
  • Be Honest. Even when it hurts.
  • Don’t fake it. Or else, you won’t make it.
  • Be transparent. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Make sure your values are true. We don’t want to be hypocrites, do we?
  • Think before you speak. And before you post.