How to Convey Authenticity Online
Authenticity is your brand’s greatest asset. Regardless of the type of business you are in, real conversations and real relationships provide the foundation for achieving results.
Authenticity means engaging in conversations that include as much listening as they do speaking. It means, staying true to your morals, ethics, personal belief systems and areas of expertise while remaining open to the needs, wants and thoughts of your audience. Authenticity requires you to speak in a voice that is uniquely you. It requires that you share meaningful and verifiable insights while injecting your own personal human flair. In short… be yourself but be your best self.
So why is it so hard to be yourself online? We do it in real life every day. It should come easy, right? Wrong! For whatever reason, when that monitor comes to life, we often begin to speak another language. Without a full understanding of what to say, we often become something we’re not. We forget that real people are really listening and we enter a death spin of quote, promote, hashtag, rinse and repeat.
So, how do you break out of this dangerous pattern and get back to the authentic voice your audience responds to? Take a deep breath, look around you and let’s begin with these 7 ways to be more authentic online
1. Be Real – One sure thing in life is that no one is just one thing. Do more than just talk about your business and what you want people to do (i.e. hire me, buy from me, etc). Share a bit of yourself with your audience. Do you have a good sense of humor? Show it! Are you active within your community? Post about it! Are you passionate about your pets? Share photos! Let others know that you are a well rounded, interesting individual who has a lot to bring to the table. Offer up glimpses of a person that others want to be around. Be yourself but be your best self!
2. Remember the People – Never forget that all those numbers on social media sites and in email lists are real people. They have needs, interests and expectations that go far beyond the buying process. They might not have logged into Facebook to buy from you, but your generous insights and helpfulness can eventually lead them to want to buy from you! Do something nice for them. Offer up intelligence and behind the scenes insights that keep them coming back for more. If you can solve a problem for them AND help them see you as a real human being who has a genuine interest in them, you’ll quickly become unstoppable!
3. Be Responsive – No one likes to be ignored. If someone asks you a question, answer them. If someone leaves you a comment, thank them. If someone complains, address it. There may come a time when you are such a successful household name that no one will expect you to speak to every single member of your online community. Until that happens, however, you need to get out there and communicate!
4. Reveal Details – Share a few perceived industry secrets and watch your target audience come running! Show them how you do something, offer them a tool they might not have been aware of, offer them a way of doing something easier, faster or better and do it all without appearing to receive anything in return. Buyers are naturally suspicious of people who have something to sell them. Let your audience know that you only have their best interests at heart and they will keep coming back for more. It won’t be long before they’ll be encouraging you to talk about what you have to sell.
5. Offer Social Proof – Approximately 81% of shoppers do their research before buying. Social media sites offer a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the community where your audience is doing their research and help them find great information about you! Start by creating a great social presence, posting regularly and monitoring your social sites so you can respond when someone mentions you. Handle complaints quickly and publically and continue to publish content in the form of blog posts, video and photos so your audience will want to know more about you. Build your social following, talk, listen and respond even when conversations are few. If you continue these behaviors consistently over time, your followers will grow, the conversations will increase and you'll have the opportunity to show potential clients what a great brand you are to work with! Do the right thing, do it publically and show your audience just how you treat the people who choose to work with you!
6. Don't Walk Away – Although there are times when we all need a break, don’t walk away from your audience after you’ve spent months or even years building those relationships. Let your audience know you’re going to be offline for a week. Share that you are operating during your busiest season and let them know you may be posting a bit less. Hire a social media virtual assistant to help you monitor your accounts and keep the conversations going while you step to the side. Don’t just stop sharing and responding. Your audience may question whether you were ever real to begin with. You’ll lose credibility and the loyalty of the fans you did have who were interested in what you had to say.
7. Own Your Mistakes – We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Sometimes it’s a small one. For example: I knew someone who posted a Happy Friday message on a Thursday! It had been a terribly long week and they were desperately ready for it to be Friday! They laughed it off and told everyone they were declaring a long weekend for everyone! They got lots of Likes on that! Maybe your mistake is a little bigger and you actually have to apologize for a careless word or a promotional message in the wrong place. That’s ok. Don’t just delete and hide. Own your mistake, apologize and then don’t do it again! The majority of your audience will understand and eventually they will forget as long as you’ve handled it correctly.
You may think that being authentic is difficult, but in the long run it just means you are being the very best version of you. There are so many parts to your personality that people want to know about! There is so much you have to offer that will resonate with the very people you’re trying to get in front of! Take a chance and give them a peak behind the curtain! Throw caution to the wind and own up to just how smart, funny, generous and outrageous you truly are! Chances are, you'll find a few people who can't wait to do business with a smart, funny, generous, outrageous person!
Are you struggling to share your authentic voice online? Contact us and ask how we can help you develop the voice of your brand in social media!
Learn more about how to convey authenticity online by joining me on The Social Media Help Not Hype show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wordofmomradio/2015/02/03/being-authentically-you-online-with-janice-clark-and-her-guest-mary-giuseffi