Last week I was lucky enough to be on a panel hosted by Grasshopper to discuss small business and social media. And while the entire talk was informative and entertaining, one bit really stood out. We were asked whether or not it's a good idea to outsource social media, and another panelist unequivocally said no, and pushed the need to be authentic. That idea of authenticity struck me. That word used to mean something. Now it sounds like the nonsense that bad managers throw out to during weekly meetings, along with words like synergy or forward-reach. But authenticity is still vital for a successful social media campaign, and anyone worth their salt should be striving to present an authentic voice through their social channels.
Never stop producing content and telling stories
I opened this piece with a story for a reason. Readers like to be able to connect with content, and content is still one of the best ways to keep your online marketing authentic. After all, you are producing and creating the fodder for this form of marketing, so you imbue your content with your personality and voice. It's as close as your audience can get to talking to you, without really talking to you. That is why I believe that content is still the primary focus for social marketers - a survey by Social Media Examiner found that 58% of marketers still rank content as their most valuable social marketing tool. Yes, there are SEO benefits to content marketing, but it trumps visuals, audio, and curated posts for reasons beyond search engine ranking - it's an authentic representation of your voice, and a good reminder for your audience that a living, breathing, thinking person is behind the profiles that they follow.
Avoid too many auto-posts
I will be the first to admit that I love auto-posts. Native posting is all fine and good until you start trying to balance everything - having to login, load up, and post takes too much time. So I say unto you, feel free to use auto-posting applications; I know I do. But show some moderation, and don't queue up too far into the future. I know it sounds deceitful, but you sort of want to maintain the illusion that you are personally posting everything that goes into your feed. That's why it's a good idea to vary your curated content between your different profiles, and not just post the same thing at the same time to all of your accounts. If something you plug reads like an ad, instead of an organic post, your audience will ignore it.
I understand why the corporate world works the way it does. Before I bought MyCorp, I worked for it while it was run by a larger, corporate entity. And back then, the biggest problem we faced as a company was the threat of stagnation. We couldn't respond quickly to the changing market trends since everything had to be run through committee. And that imbues a very inauthentic, inorganic feel to a company. A study by Lithium Technologies done last year found that the majority of twitter users expect companies to respond to their tweets within an hour. While that study was mainly concerned with the customer service aspect of a speedy response, quick, real-time responses are still obviously appreciated. If you want a real world example, just look at #AlexfromTarget. BuzzFeed did a pretty good rundown of the meme, but the most important part of that article is Target's response. The fact they responded positively, and quickly, are why they were able to bask in the free press of a viral image they didn't have anything to do with.
It can be hard for a business to cultivate its voice. After all, your company isn't a celebrity, or any sort of personality. You can't post pictures of it hanging out with friends on the weekend. But your brand does have a voice. And it is that voice that sets you apart from your competitors. People will follow you through your various social channels because they like that voice. So you need to work to cultivate it, and keep your presence authentic. Good content, quick responses, and an actual person to monitor and interact through your feeds will do wonders for your social marketing campaign. Authenticity isn't just a pointless corporate buzzword- it's the very keystone to your company's social success.