Keeping It Real

How to Build an Authentic Voice on Social Media

“Just be yourself.” This often-used piece of advice is one that probably caused you to roll your eyes when your parents said it to you, but is something worth repeating when considering your social media presence. Now that you’re older and hopefully much wiser, you have probably recognised that there’s much more value in staying true to what you represent, rather than attempting to live up to trends or what you think others want to see or hear. The same principles can also be applied to your professional or branded social media accounts.

Building and maintaining an ‘authentic voice’ on social media is vitally important for any business but sadly it appears to be a challenge for many. Finding that golden area between being relatable and honest, without looking like you are trying too hard or compromising your company’s name is a tricky balancing act. The following information and tips can help you navigate this grey area – and keeping it honest.

Why do we care?

As an integrated marketing agency, we like to offer advice to anyone. It’s easy to separate yourself from your audience or customer in an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality, but we are all consumers of something. You are the audience for the brands that you are a customer of, and therefore know both sides of the marketing coin well. Recognising this, you probably have favourite brands, or ones that you enjoy following and engaging with on social media more than others. Think of those brands and you’ll probably come to realise that one of the reasons you’re such a fan is because of their authenticity.

While there are countless ways of expressing authenticity, we always advise to keeping it simple. An authentic company owns up to their mistakes, is honest with their customers and doesn’t sugar coat anything or sweep problems under the carpet. Acting like a human rather than a robotic brand through social media messages and posts undoubtedly increases a brand’s likeability and allows the audience to feel a more genuine connection.

While getting the warm and fuzzies for a brand is all well and good, there are numbers and facts that emphasise the importance of using an authentic voice on social media. Honesty builds loyalty and trust. In fact, 63 percent of those surveyed in a recent study, stated that they buy or would buy from an authentic brand over their competitors. Authentic traits such as communicating honestly about products and services as well as environmental impact and sustainability were considered by those surveyed globally to be of more importance than the product’s actual utility and popularity. With this in mind, there are a few reliable ways to build and maintain an authentic brand voice on social media.

Keep your cool

It’s been said before, but this advice is worth repeating. An authentic voice on social media is one which aligns with your brand’s style, tone, and key messaging. This means that if your brand is a highly serious, business-like accounts firm, for example, your brand voice will most likely differ from the voice of a local sports shop. This is of course not always the case, but the odds are that the audience’s expectation from one type of business will be different from others, so the brand voice should match this.

When brands try too hard to follow a trend or try to be cool, it usually has the opposite effect. If you are not necessarily a ‘hip’ brand, no one will be expecting you to use slang or make internet-speak memes. Staying true to your brand mission and purpose is beneficial 99 percent of the time, as your audience can see through your attempts at fitting in.

Leave your ego at the door

Nobody is perfect, and a brand that recognises this is golden. While traditional advertising is a place for brands to bring attention to the great things about their product or service, social media is the place for a dash of appropriate, good-humoured self-deprecation to take place. This is a way of further humanising the brand, allowing the audience to see them as genuine and relatable. You can put these notions into practice by:

  • • Being vulnerable: An example of this is pop icon Taylor Swift, who highlights and pokes fun at her embarrassing moments through her Instagram, Twitter, and (mostly) her Tumblr account. This frankness may open her to attack from the some of the more cynical users of the Internet, but the more Swift embraces the hate, the more popular she gets. If brands could have a sense of humour and be a bit more vulnerable, they would find more social media success.
  • • Being self-aware: While a brand can be extremely authentic on social media, the ability to recognise and highlight the fact that at the end of the day, they are a brand and not one person is a valuable asset.

Behind the scenes

As consumers have more access to information and reviews, this savviness is accompanied by increased scepticism towards companies. With consumers able to read other customer reviews for a product or service, as well as social media conversations and comments directed towards brands, it’s a good idea for businesses to get ahead of these through strategic transparency. If your social media updates, shares, and posts are not consistent with the brand voice you are presenting, this discrepancy can cause distrust amongst your audience and customer-base.

You can use social media to practice transparency in many areas of your business, from your employee’s work culture to your company’s environmental impact, all of which will contribute to the brand voice you are putting forward. Many consumers are no longer satisfied just seeing what companies are presenting with their best face forward–they want to go behind the scenes and see how things are really being done. Being open about your business is a great way to gain people’s trust and loyalty. By sharing problems you may be facing you can help build a larger following.

This emphasis on transparency is something that social media has brought to the forefront for businesses as an authentic brand voice becomes the golden ticket for organisations.

If you need any further assistance, Fusion Media offers a range of social media services and training workshops to help you get the best out of your social media presence – and we bring cakes!

If you want a marketing partner that is passionate about helping you grow your business then get in touch. It’s what we’re best at.