The ABC’s of Authentic Brand Content
Let’s keep it real.
I mean that in its most literal interpretation. Content creators, marketers, PR pros and advertisers alike are struck with a similar shift in public perception. To be blunt, people are tired of the shit. There’s a time and place for the flashy, big budget ads, but when it comes to social media, people want to see the real side of your brand. When we asked a well-known digital marketer, Ross Simmonds, what he believed would shape the modern business space, he told us it would be authenticity.
Listen to/download the full podcast below.
Last year, 2000 adults across the U.S., UK and Australia were surveyed to discover what kind of branded content they preferred to see, and what they deemed the most influential. Authenticity quickly made itself a common theme. From this survey, the majority responded that more than half of brands did not produce content that they would consider ‘authentic’.
Now more than ever, people are actively searching for brands that align with them on a value-based level. The brands people choose to champion are the ones that actively contribute to their own personal brand.
So, how can you build better and more authentic content around your brand?
A.) Build relationships with your customers
Working to build a trusting relationship with your customer is the first step. We all know that trust is earned, and it’s not something that happens overnight. The most effective approach is to provide value. So… go ahead and provide some more! Customers notice when you go above and beyond the standard functions of your business. There are simple ways to bridge the gap between a basic business relationship and one that fosters an eternal brand ambassador.
A time when a brand left a lasting impression on me after ordering my first pile of business cards...
This is obviously already an exciting moment in a new entrepreneur’s journey (at least it was for me), and Vistaprint added a cherry on top. Along with my business cards - which turned out beautifully - was a handwritten letter from an employee at the company, as well as some additional branded items added on top of my already reasonably priced order. I’m not so ignorant to think that they don’t do this for everyone, but it still stuck with me. Since then, I’ve gladly been a supporter of their services and culture.
It’s the little things like this that work to build trusting relationships between you and your customers.
See what I just did for Vistaprint? That is what you want your customers to do for you. I just participated in something called user-generated content (UGC).
The aforementioned survey discovered that user-generated content ranks the highest when it comes to being perceived as authentic and influential. UGC simply means that the consumer produces content that represents a brand. This can happen both organically, or through influencer campaigns. Regardless of the approach, this is an incredibly effective way to build authentic content around your brand.
Many brands successfully establish digital stages for consumers to create their own branded content. These stages are typically managed through hashtags, and work to create a sense of community online. UGC campaigns provide tons of value to each side of the coin. This is what Adobe brilliantly did through Instagram last year!
Adobe, the popular software provider for digital creatives essentially created an online art gallery using the hashtag #Adobe_Perspective. They encouraged their creative users to share their masterpieces on Instagram using the hashtag. The extra incentive to possibly be featured on Adobe’s own Instagram page with over 600k followers also helps.
B.) Become a master storyteller
The desire to hear and tell great stories is something that has been hard-wired into us since our childhoods. There’s a profound phenomenon that occurs when we hear a well-delivered story. Neural-coupling occurs when the listener’s brain mirrors the emotional impact depicted in the speaker’s story. It’s proven that this drastically improves the listener’s (in this case, the consumer’s) comprehension, understanding, anticipation, and receptivity.
Storytelling is a powerful way to tap into your consumer’s emotions and leave a lasting impression. Establishing an emotional connection with consumers greatly influences their commitment to your offering.
What stories should you tell?
The first thing you want to do is discover which stories you have that would resonate with your audience. Your story must be compelling as well as true. These days, big brands are paying more and more attention to finding the stories that lead to long-lasting relationships with customers. Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry admitted they had actually brought in a cultural anthropologist to help define their story. They understand that these anecdotes are what stick with people.
Need help finding yours? Ask yourself:
What problem does your brand solve?
What inspired the inception of your brand?
How has the business evolved over time?
Have you had any “aha” moments?
What is interesting about the founder(s)?
You’re looking for the unique and emotional elements that will set you apart from the noise to establish your story.
How to get others to tell your story
This is the mecca of digital PR and marketing: having a story that builds trust and is shared effectively through UGC. You can’t force people to share your story, but you can influence their desire to. We all love good stories, and good stories are shareable.
Here’s how to get people to start telling it:
Tell your story everywhere. Whether it’s during an interview, in a blog or in a tweet... tell it!
Add to your story through social media. Stories, pictures, curated content all work to contribute to your story.
Create dialogues with customers online. Pose a question and reply to their answers.
Do AMA’s, Q&A’s and public discussions
Podcasts are a fantastic way to build a personal brand while you tell your brand’s story as well
C.) Tailor your content to each channel
There’s a reason why features like Snapchat and Instagram stories gained so much popularity in the last couple of years. Viewers love them because these are the mediums that scream authenticity. Brands often use these channels to showcase a behind-the-scenes look of what they do on a day-to-day basis.
No matter where you share it, your story needs to be consistent, but your delivery approach may change. There’s an optimal way to share a piece of content for each platform. You wouldn’t necessarily share something on Twitter in the same way you would on LinkedIn. Think of as if you were re-purposing content. You want the message to be similar, but how your audience consumes it may vary.
There’s no calculated way to do this, but let me get you thinking...
A blog you wrote on your website could become an infographic.
A picture you took could on social media could literally be worth 1000 words (blog).
A podcast you recorded could be re-purposed as written content.
A video you made could also become a podcast.
There are countless ways to re-purpose content. Your goal is not only to lessen your workload, but also to influence your viewer’s experience. Once you understand how your viewer uses each medium, then you’ll better understand how to get the most out them.
Ready to get real?
There’s no shame in admitting you could use a little help. If your brand is part of the 57% of brands that consumers don’t perceive as authentic, maybe it’s time to try something new!
A tactical digital PR plan is an effective remedy to many of the authenticity-related pains that brands experience. Shoot me message if you’d like to discuss your options and ask any questions.