Is your brand keepin’ it real?
We know that the realm of social media platforms can be tricky to navigate. Finding success—whether that be increased brand awareness, customer loyalty, or conversions—can take real work and reflection on your brand. Key parts of any brand include its identity and image; a brand represents itself to its audience through the traits and elements of its brand identity, but the brand image is the way the audience ultimately perceives the brand.
When you think of a specific brand (any brand!), what comes to mind? Maybe a logo, tagline, colour scheme, jingle, or certain association. Now, consider the way that that brand probably wants you to perceive it, perhaps by certain traits, values, or a personality. If these two perspectives match up, you might feel confident in their message, but if not, there’s a good chance you’re feeling a bit skeptical of this brand and its practices.
How irritating is it when you can tell a brand’s message is totally contrived, or a straight-up lie? Depending on the severity, this kind of faux pas might even change your opinion of the company. A whopping 86% of consumers say authenticity plays a role in their choice to support a brand. However, according to 51% of consumers, less than half of brands create “authentic” content. Clearly, many brands are missing authenticity in their social media content—and customers are definitely noticing.
To be recognized as authentic, a brand needs to build a strong identity and create content that corresponds well with it. These branding practices must foster a brand image that matches the brand’s identity, as today’s Internet-savvy consumers will see right through insincerity and deception. Now, without further ado, let’s dive right into three keys for online authenticity!
1. The consumer is #1, always
The customer and their perspective are essential in bridging any gaps between brand identity and image and creating authenticity. The customer journey with your brand may begin with interactions on social media. Remember, your messages with customers cannot come off as forced and artificial. Using a real and personal voice will show the consumer that they’re speaking with another human—not a robot! Take on this voice when engaging with customers online; reply to questions and chat with them through comments and direct messages. Showing personal care and attention can help connect with customers and build trustful relationships—it’s what we all want!
Ever heard of user-generated content (UGC)? This content, shared or created by fans, is another amazing way to forge brand-consumer relationships. Customers are actually 2.4 times more likely to consider UGC authentic, rather than typical branded content; when consumers are deciding whether to trust or support a brand, recommendations and word-of-mouth promotion can be much more persuasive. UGC is an excellent indicator of customer loyalty, as well as a great way to build it! So, hold a UGC contest, ask for customer reviews, or keep your eye on brand hashtags, mentions, and location tags to keep up with your customers.
2. With great brands comes great accountability
Today, more and more consumers are supporting brands with values (whether environmental, social, political, etc.) that align with their own. Customers also appreciate companies with ethical practices—in fact, consumer trust is driven three times as much by ethical behaviour than other factors. Having a strong mission statement is a great start, but it’s so important to have consistent values and good practices that back those promises. Expect to be held accountable by followers if your brand isn’t acting in a way that corresponds to its identity, or if you’re not fulfilling promises to your customers!
A key to great accountability is admitting to limitations and owning up to mistakes when they inevitably happen. While trying to cover up faults might seem like the best thing to do, this can lead customers to lose trust. Consumers appreciate responsible brands—after all, perfection is impossible, but authenticity is admirable!
3. Consistency, consistency, consistency, consistency, consistency
Consistency doesn’t have to mean boring; it’s a stronger way of branding that will solidify your unique identity! Consistent and well-established brand elements will form a clear image that is recognizable to consumers. Think of some of the most popular brands in the world; consumers can immediately recall identifiers like their logo, tagline, or certain campaigns. The result is extremely strong brand awareness—and a higher chance for a loyal customer base on social media.
To be consistent, a brand needs a solid, well-planned identity to portray to its customers. A brand guide can be helpful here to prevent any misunderstandings, especially among a larger marketing team. Scheduling social media content in advance will also ensure posts are not rushed and are set under a uniform voice. This is something our Rootree team excels at and loves to help other brands manage! We know that maintaining a distinct brand identity is key to authenticity online but is nothing without consistency.
Authenticity is key to social media success, but that’s easier said than done—it’s an ongoing process that takes time and effort! Here at Rootree, we’re all about keepin’ it real. We also help other brands thrive on social media—our Creative Services team would love to help your business with its brand identity through brand guide development, social media management, a fun revamp, and more. Our top industry tools allow your brand to feel in control of its brand identity, without the time-consuming task of day-to-day engagement and content production. To find out more about how we can help your brand achieve social media success, talk to someone from our team!