authenticity in social media

Why Authenticity Outranks Content in Social Media

If content is King, authenticity is the kingdom he’s bound within. Once he steps past those borders, he’s out of his jurisdiction, and treated as such.

The same is true for your social media efforts. If you’re only focusing on content, you’re missing the larger picture. An authentic social media presence is essential if you’re looking for real attention in the age of feeds overflowing with effortless, strategy-barren content.

Unfortunately, authenticity has become a bit of a buzz word in the world of digital marketing. As I’ve been reading blogs, articles and even books that touch on it, I’ve seen it misdefined and misrepresented as just one of many tools to be used in the marketer’s arsenal, instead of the lens every social media marketer should be looking though.

So look, authenticity is a simple word with a range of meaning. But for the purposes of sharing content, it has to do with sharing something that’s not false or a flawed imitation; it’s an actual representation of something. It means your posts truly represent what you’re promoting, and it’s more important now than ever.

This cannot be overstated: Authenticity is the AIR that gives life to successful social media strategies. Feel an acronym coming on? You know that’s right – an authentic social media presence enhances your Authority, Influence and Relevancy. Here’s how.

Authenticity drives authority

So, you’re chillin’ in Barnes & Noble, sipping on some Starbucks in the business / marketing section. I step into the aisle with a new book in hand and extend it toward you.
Me: Looking for a great read on social media strategy? Check this out, my friend!
You: Oh, cool, what’s it about?
Me: You see the title, right? ‘How to Build a Strong Following on Twitter’ – that’s what it’s about.
You:Wait. You haven’t read it? How do you know it’s any good?
Me:Well, that’s a pretty unappreciative tone. I saw the book, looked at the title and I brought it to you. What else do you expect?
You:*Walks away*

Seems ridiculous right? Now go look at your social media feeds. Full of obtuse headlines, hashtags you don’t engage with and very few instances of anyone who is truly promoting something they have taken the time to understand so they can recommend it with authority.

Why would you want to be a part of that phenomenon? Set yourself apart by offering real insight into what you’re linking to or the infographic, video, etc you’re sharing. That gives you authority, makes you a subject matter expert and puts you in the category as one who can be trusted to provide worthwhile information on a topic.

I talk about this a bit more in my blog, Four Ways to Write More Engaging Social Media Posts, but you build authority when you show that you know the topic, know the content, and know how to pull the key points out for others. When you do that in your social postings, you look different, you stand out among the crowd of automated clutter; you come across as authentic.

Authenticity drives influence

Influence. If that’s not the watered down word of the year in the social media realm, I don’t know what would be. It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten what the word even means. To provide an analogy of where we are in terms of “influence” in social media, it’s equivalent to opening the door for 100,000 people as they enter a concert they’ve purchased tickets to. They’re interested in the topic, but they’re not engaging with you about it. Such is the case of many of those who label themselves “influencers” today. Lots of followers – almost no engagement. So, who are they influencing?

True influence means you’re actually influencing the actions of those who follow you. And people have a higher likelihood of following your lead when you’re authentic with what you’re sharing.

Related: How to Be Known on Social Media

Imagine how different social media would be if each person sharing content had the thought process of “I found this piece of content helpful, now I want to share it with you to get your opinion (comment), your endorsement(retweet/share) or your acknowledgement (like) of its quality.” That’s authenticity. It’s an others-first approach to social media that is nearly unheard of today, and it needs to resurrected.

It won’t happen unless more people take it seriously. Be one of those people.

Authenticity drives relevancy

Relevancy is a crucial card in the deck of trust. While it’s easy to lose (and very hard to win back), the key to winning it in the first place is found in authenticity.

Think of how you feel when you click that post for the “Five critical things you need to succeed in digital marketing in 2018” just to be led to a lame article with tips like, “spend time on social media”, “have a website”, and “use email”. That feeling of disgust is the result of reading irrelevant content that was promoted in an inauthentic social post. How many of those posts from one account do you need to see before you start ignoring her/him?

Not many. And that’s what makes authenticity so important to relevancy.

If you’re guilty of this, you need to quit doing it as well. If in your efforts to post 15 times per day so you can stay at the top of feeds and amass followers, you end up generating inauthentic posts, the actual audiences you care about will filter you out as irrelevant. And that, my friend, is a tough label to shake off. So avoid it altogether by actually thinking through your posts, browsing the content your sharing, and offering some thought leadership. No, it will not earn you 500 new followers overnight. But it will earn you trust from the right kind of followers.

Case and point – I was working with a client recently who was bothered because his competitor had thousands of more followers than he did. I was managing his account, so that of course pointed the finger at me a bit. So I asked him, “who are you trying to reach?” (I of course knew that answer, but because he was blinded by followers, I think he momentarily forgot). Once he answered the question, I pulled up a dashboard showing him that a good percentage of his followers are executives in the area he’s trying to reach – his competitor has less than 1% of that following.

Why? Authenticity. These executives don’t have time to dig through click bait and trendy hashtags. They want to follow accounts that clearly provide value in their posts and in the content they link to. They view him as relevant, careful, and intentional with his postings. And they want more.

The same will happen for you if seek to be authentic as well.

Have your own thoughts on how to be more authentic in social media? Share them in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Why Authenticity Outranks Content in Social Media

  1. Soo important and so glad you are writing about this. I’m so darn tired of reading blogs that promote these random brands just to tout their status as an influencer when we all know that they would never use them…. I have had to turn down the majority of brands that reach out to me because they don’t align with my values. But hey I would rather stay true to myself, even if it means I am not really getting paid or getting free stuff.
    Also this was really well written! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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