Authenticity is a common term content marketers run into on a daily basis. It’s a coveted characteristic of content that promises tremendous returns in exchange for truth. Truth about the intent of the content, truth to the identity of the brand, but most importantly, truth about the giving value to the audience.
Yet it is something that eludes marketers and social media gurus everywhere. Overly branded content and sneaky barriers to entry are rampant in the space causing growing suspicion and pessimism in audiences.
But how can we as marketers strike a balance between authenticity and what the audience wants and requires? It’s a challenging proposition to be sure, and there are plenty of factors to consider – from stakeholders to the objectives of the campaign.
Content that gives
First of all, we need to recognize that the true purpose of content is not just to sell our product. It’s hard to envision that. As marketers, we have been trained to sell, but content marketing often calls for a different approach. We need to shelf those intentions if we’re to make headway in producing authentic content.
By that I mean stop vehemently advertising your product on every piece of content, or writing an article about the ultimate tip for financial success and spending a whole page setting up this awesome tip then hiding it behind an e-mail sign up list. It’s cheap, and really, audiences don’t appreciate it.
Some marketers might then think that revealing secrets will then take away any reason for audiences to buy anything. But think about it this way, if you’re able to give a little usable advice, and it actually works out for someone, guess who they’re going to trust the next time a similar but bigger problem comes along?
Content marketing is about giving, and possibly getting nothing in return. It’s a scary fact to confront, and I’m sure plenty of folks will disagree with me on this point. Sure, there are plenty of case studies that support the success of content, but there are plenty more that fail and give up at it one they see that progress is often times unpredictable and slow.
Another thing to consider when talking about authenticity is the use of influencers. Although it’s an excellent approach for marketers to reach a large audience, it’s important to understand how your core message and product can be warped depending on the context.
One of the problems facing influencer marketing is the growing distrust in the public. Audiences increasingly shun bloggers and other influencers for posting sponsored content. It has become a common conception that sponsored posts are completely biased towards the company sponsoring the article. This distrust in turn leads to credibility concerns and takes away a sense of authenticity.
A balance needs to be struck in influencer marketing. Influencers need to feel free to convey their own messages and verdicts without pressure from brands. If you’re sponsoring a review of your product, you shouldn’t expect it to be a 100% glowing review. In fact pointing out some flaws in your product creates some trust and believability between the influencer and the audience which by proxy affects your product.
The popular YouTube channel AngryjoeShow does this well. Angry Joe reviews video games and is notorious for tearing games apart. Audiences trust him because he feels authentic in his delivery by criticizing mistakes, but also getting really excited about the parts he loved.
Authenticity stems from truly wanting to help your audiences and putting customers first before anything else. Companies that want to tap into the power of authenticity need to think a little less conservatively and start sharing more with audiences to foster deeper relationships.