Almost every business is present on social media, across multiple platforms.
(And if not, why the hell not?? We’re joking…)
One of the first places a customer, client or even a potential candidate for a job vacancy will look is at a business’s social media presence.
With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why so many businesses aim for perfection in their feeds. We get a highlight reel of their successes, testimonials, upcoming events and campaigns – very rarely do we see the workings of their business or the quiet periods.
Beyond going down the rabbit hole of how this can contribute to self-comparison for business owners and make an audience feel disillusioned, it usually comes down to one thing:
Exactly how authentic is your business on social media?
Authenticity online matters a lot more than people give it credit for.
Authentic content has the capacity to create a more meaningful relationship with an audience through relatability.
In the same way our real lives aren’t just a highlight reel of our best moments, running a business isn’t, either.
Customers often see a little bit of themselves and their values in the brands they choose to support and be an advocate for, which is why it’s so important to remain authentic.
Here are a five ways to implement authenticity on social media:
– If you don’t have it, don’t flaunt it
Consumers, audiences, customers, whatever your target market is on social media, aren’t stupid.
The days of using Photoshop unabashedly and presenting false advertisement as fact are over, for good reason.
It’s not just the fact that your audience will notice a mile away, it’s also that it’s disingenuous. If your product or offering is good, it’ll often speak for itself.
Don’t let Photoshop do the talking.
– Honesty is the best policy
Hear me out, here.
I don’t mean plastering that you’re hungover on a Monday morning and contemplating whether all this work malarkey is worth it is a good way to go (it never will be, just FYI).
If you want to show behind the scenes of your business, or take a picture of your team at the end of an intensive day to celebrate their hard (but very stressful) work, do it!
Every business has struggles and being a little more transparent, within reason, about these struggles, is what can forge a stronger relationship between you and your audience.
– For the love of God, don’t use clickbait
You see it everywhere, from Instagram thumbnails that have people with scissors up to their nose for no reason, to YouTube videos with the title ‘My Uber driver tried to kill me’.
Don’t do that.
Engagement is nice, but it’s not really going to amount to anything if it’s for a completely non-related, and frankly completely false, subject.
Not only will this turn people away from your social media in general, it will turn a loyal audience into a resentful one.
Leave clickbait alone and post genuine updates.
(Unless, in fact, your Uber driver did try to kill you, but I don’t think the internet is the correct place to be detailing this experience).
– Is it you, or is it Kim Kardashian?
Tone of voice is important.
Rather than looking at what you think is successful with other businesses and individuals on their social media, just be yourself.
Now, obviously you should remain professional and respectful, but if you wouldn’t say it in real life – don’t post it online.
You don’t want an audience that is built on a false perception of who you are as a person, because it’s unsustainable long-term and because it’s not a true representation of yourself.
– Don’t pull a Pepsi
If you’re passionate about social change and the values of your business are closely aligned with this, that’s great!
What you absolutely should not do, however, is approach social issues with nonchalance.
Much in the same way Pepsi didn’t anticipate the backlash they received for their infamous advert with Kendall Jenner that trivialised police brutality, you should anticipate a negative response if you don’t treat certain issues with the care they require.
That’s not to put you off it entirely!
Social issues are personal to everyone. For some people, you’re referring to their lived experience, and often, their pain when you speak on societal matters.
Just use your head and don’t allude to a fizzy drink solving issues you haven’t suffered yourself, and you should be fine.
The main takeaway?
Being authentic might not be easy, and it’s often downright uncomfortable to display a bit of the ‘bad’ alongside the good – but it’s certainly worth it for you and your audience.
Giving people something they can resonate with is a sure-fire way to create a great and reliable relationship with an audience that lasts, and it can give a great first impression.
Which of these tips did you find most interesting/helpful?
If you’d like to start putting authenticity at the centre of your personal brand as someone who’s self-employed, you might enjoy our online workshop, ‘Authenticity in Business’, an interactive and engaging format including group discussions.