In an interview with GoDaddy, Dave Kerpen, a New York Times bestselling author, Founder of Likeable Local, and the top LinkedIn influencer in page views says, “Authenticity really breeds trust, and trust breeds business.”
Authenticity is a feeling that impels you to trust a particular person, product or a brand.
Before the advent of the digital age, brands controlled all levels of communication, making it hard for end users to make informed purchases. But today, with social media and consumers’ increasing dependency on online communication, brands no longer control the entire communication flow. Instead, they share their message on a global platform and potential customers decide its success, thereof.
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With quality and authenticity being the key factors to success, it has become imperative for brands to not only follow unadulterated practices but also to ensure that every message that reaches their customers is bona-fide. Today's consumers don't like to be sold out. They take pride in making informed decisions when it comes to spending their hard earned money, and the brand which is able to build trust is the one that sustains. Social media specialist and Founder and Director of Marketing Rx Inc. Kimberly Allison rightly says, “Nobody falls in love with a business card, a logo, or a building, they fall in love with you.”
Social media authenticity – a contrived marketing slogan?
Despite social media marketers trying to build their customer base organically, the need for a positive online image becomes so important in the decision-making process for consumers that brands feel compelled to risk appearing truly authentic. With that comes the need to indulge in fake reviews.
The result? A small business, in its initial phase, starts to appear as big as an established corporation, just through the game of technology and design. Marketers’ strategies to acquire clients or create social personas create a rift between building an authentic brand and creating a marketing scheme influenced brand.
But customers are becoming wary of these gimmicks. They are no longer surprised by the fact that manufactured brand personalities and product qualities are majorly influenced by fake reviews, which have sadly become an integral part of the brand building game plan.
Last year, Essena O’Neill, an Instagram model who had more than half a million followers, decided to quit social media, describing it as “contrived perfection made to get attention.” In a post, she also mentioned that she was making about $1,000 per product to promote them on her Instagram feed. This could be a clear reminder that not everything we see on social media is morally charged. Ironically, communication is still controlled by these brands, only this time the power to accept or reject the communication lies solely in the hands of customers.
A new initiative of using the hashtag #spon on Instagram took the internet by storm soon after O’Neill’s exit, thereby increasing the media literacy of many trend followers on the internet. So now, most of your customers understand the difference between paid and genuine promotion.
Entrepreneurs need to understand that building a business and creating its personality are two sides of the same coin, each having its own requirements. While building a business majorly revolves around your product quality and operations, giving your business a ‘branded personality’, is all about developing an ability to listen to your customers’ needs, wants, and likes and provide the appropriate social media coverage for your company.
When it comes to gaining trust, being transparent is the cornerstone of successful social media presence. If customers trust your company, they will be more inclined to invest in your products. Remember, with the new age of social media, everything that you say or share publicly will spread more quickly than you anticipate. This creates an incessant need to respond to both positive and negative comments. Just be likeable, and nothing can stop you from building a brand that people relate to and stick by.