In a world of fake news and data breaches, people are increasingly looking for sources they can trust when they go online. For small businesses, this means one component of your online presence and social media strategy should shoot to the top of your priorities: authenticity. Consumers these days are savvy, wary of dishonesty and can sniff out inauthenticity in seconds. Being authentic comes down to being real and human, practicing what you preach and being transparent. The more authentic you are online, the more you’ll connect with consumers and build a lasting connection and loyalty to your brand. What does being authentic on social media look like exactly? Here are four ways to do it.
1. Cultivate a strong voice
Develop a consistent, recognizable and honest voice that reflects who you are as a business. Whether you’re trying to convey humor, expertise or any other defining traits, make sure that you’re staying true to yourself. Your voice on social media should be as consistent as possible: if your posts range from serious and proper to light and conversational, your audience might get confused and become distrustful.
2. Be accountable
Mistakes are human, and no business owner is immune. When you mess up, own up to it, apologize and do your best to remedy the situation. This is especially key when it comes to engaging with any critical or negative online reviews or comments. Ignoring these reviews can look shady, and responding in a defensive manner will reflect poorly on your business. Encouraging and engaging with feedback — both good and bad — establishes authenticity by showing you are accountable to your customers, care about their experience and want to improve as a business. The more you can have a two-way conversation with your customers, the more human and real your business becomes.
3. Be transparent
Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer found that 56 percent of respondents said ethical and open business practices are important to building their trust in a company. Be as transparent as possible about where your products come from, how you source them and how you do business. Things that might seem mundane to you could be of genuine interest to your customers. Being transparent allows you to demonstrate your values: saying you’re family-oriented is one thing, but posting a video to Instagram of your nephew helping out in the showroom is another. Give your audience a robust idea of who you are and what your process looks like, and you’ll be rewarded.
4. Don’t push product too aggressively
In Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer report on the state of trust in business, 63 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “A good reputation may get me to try a product — but unless I come to trust the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.” While your ultimate goal as a business is always to sell products, be careful not to push your products too aggressively online. People don't like being sold at, and if all you post about on social media is product images and specs, your audience isn’t getting any idea of who you are and why they should trust and buy from you in particular. Your business is so much more than your product, and it’s your job to communicate that effectively on social media to win over skeptical consumers.
In today's climate, small businesses can have a leg up against big corporations when it comes to establishing authenticity. It's up to you to show your audience on social media what sets you apart from the pack. How do you demonstrate your authenticity on social media? Let us know in the comments!
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