“Authentic” is the name of the social media game today. It might have gotten a boost from the explosion of TikTok, but the need for it was certainly there before. Influencers quickly gained a bad name. They shilled items they didn’t believe in, telling their audience to “manage your expectations” when facing backlash, they became out of touch as their numbers grew, they explode their assets with photoshop, and some of them were even caught in criminal charges.
All of this has culminated in disillusion with the big influencer. Users don’t know who to trust and are calling for authenticity. But that’s a little harder to define as a brand. If you are running a social media marketing campaign for a company, it’s easy to not use photoshop, not promote scams, not commit crime, and still come off as inauthentic. So, what does authenticity look like to the user? And how do you strive for it? We explore how to promote an authentic brand for your business.
All those issues with influencers we mentioned aren’t exclusive to, but are common in, big influencers. Those that are household names to Gen Z and frequently find themselves the subject of tea channels. They’ve made enough money and fame and got into the game early enough to be a general influencer with no speciality and still survive being “cancelled”.
Micro-influencers on the other hand, have a lot of benefits to working with them. Usually, they are the leader of a niche, whether that is their small business, their hobby, their identity, etc. which means, yes, they have a smaller audience, but a more dedicated audience. If you go with commission payment, you might see fewer clicks, but more sales.
There is nothing more authentic than user engagement. The sheer fact that someone is responding to comments, be they worries or praise, is a sure sign that your business isn’t a faceless CEO-run corporation, at least on some level. It makes users feel heard and appreciated and it makes your brand seem more human.
So, take any chance to interact. Praise user-generated content, whether it’s fan art or an appearance in their photos. Prompt reasons to get in touch, like light-hearted opinion prompts or polls. Ask questions and respond to the best answers.
Curate content with brands you trust
If Better Help can tell you anything, it’s that dropping someone for gaining some bad press goes both ways. Better Help was a big affiliate partner until perceived unethical therapy practices meant that YouTuber and Instagram influencer alike started breaking their deals with them.
You have that right, but you’d be better not being associated with anything untrustworthy to begin with. Curated content is a great way to prompt people helping you, in turn showing that you need and accept help, making you appear more human, but vet who you intend work with to ensure that you don’t get any bad blood on your sleeves.
Back up speech with actions
Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. The rule of life is to not take anyone by their word alone. The worst thing a person, an influencer, a brand can be on this planet is a hypocrite. Think about the most controversial people on the internet right now. They are not hiding who they are or ever were, and therefore they get to keep going, but if their brand was initially to be the good guy, well the higher the pedestal the harder they fall.
No business wants to be the bad guy. Even a brand with an “edgy” image wants to appear “naughty”, and “rebellious”, but not morally wrong or evil. But if you’re also going to weigh in on the issues of today with so much as an opinion, you need to back it up with actions.
As mentioned in our blog on how to get political with your brand, communities are starting to notice the lack of action behind supporting the Pride flag. Too many brands are slapping a rainbow on their logo and calling it a day, and users are noticing. Do something more with your content and prove you actually care by maybe donating to the causes you are backing to prove that your support for this cause is authentic.
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