Authenticity isn’t just important when buying a signed LeBron James jersey or Christian Louboutin heels, it’s the truest test of any good social media campaign.
Social media users are finely attuned to the authenticity of the millions of posts shared every day on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. It’s important that both the channel and the content you are posting to it are a natural fit, not just to your audience but also to your organization’s own personality: its tone, values, and goals. Many organizations, particularly ones that are new to social media, may want to dramatically change their rhetoric and tone to adapt to an online audience. However, it’s important to remember that social media is primarily a tool for building a community and promoting a call to action, not reinventing the organization to appeal to a different community. For example, just because the term “on fleek” is popular right now, doesn’t mean the Republican National Party’s LinkedIn account should use it when discussing the death penalty.
Unfortunately, the problem of online authenticity is particularity distinct for organizations dealing with political or government issues; a recent Sprout Social study found that government is the most annoying industry on social media.
Too often an organization tries to be something they’re not – 32 percent of users have found themselves rolling their eyes at a post trying (and failing) to be funny and 38 percent have bemoaned the use of“hip” slang or complicated jargon. Furthermore, many of these posts can miss the point of or distract from the purpose of your organization – and 41 percent of people have unfollowed a brand that wasn’t sharing information they found relevant.
The key to genuine and engaging content is establishing a consistent social media persona guide for your organization. Your persona guide should develop a character with a unique personality, interests, and personal life. This guide shouldn’t manifest as a public character but rather serve as an internal guide for what and how you post.
For example, if your target audience is mothers, your persona may be a forty-something mom of two. Tapping into a perspective to which your audience relates can help you stay grounded and real. As no person is so simple and one dimensional that one attribute defines them, your persona guide should have quirks and diverse interests as well. If your mother of two persona also loves movies, once a week you could post a movie quote that relates to your brand or mission. Even considerations such as where your social media persona lives can lead to more natural content. If you’re posting as a local, you can share scores and cheers for hometown sports teams.
In this way, the persona also lends to more entertaining and diverse, yet still relevant, content. A Fractl study found that the primary reason people share content on Facebook is to entertain their friends, 48 percent, followed by express issues they care about, evoke an emotion response, and finally, to provide useful information and educate. Content needs to do more than serve your organization, but also serve your followers in some way and give them a reason to like, share, and engage with your content, thus broadening your audience.
It is also in this persona that your brand should respond to user engagement. Just one in ten users have even received responses to messages sent to brands, a surprising degree of unresponsiveness that is also a major annoyance to a quarter of social media users. Since 25 percent of your followers are doing so because they’re interested in a two-way dialogue with you, ignoring messages not only encourages users to unfollow you online but also discourages people from turning their online engagement into offline action. At very least, a brand should thank a user for taking the time to write to them and direct them to a page with more information. At best, following your persona guide enables a more genuine and personalized interaction.
So next time before you click post, tweet, or share, ask yourself: who am I?