“Authentic” is so overused when talking about social media and brand messaging. “Don’t forget to be human” was the catchphrase of 2013. “Transparency” was every other word out of marketers’ mouths.
It’s not easy to feel human when you’re driving your company’s social engagement through a platform dashboard (using keywords that have been thoroughly analyzed for optimal impact, in a campaign that has been planned for months, peppered with pre-loaded posts in a publishing interface). Perhaps this is why we continually remind ourselves to be transparent in our communication—social marketing just doesn’t feel very natural. In fact, the social marketing version of “authentic” often feels like plastic surgery’s version of “beauty”.
Is this what we mean by “authentic”, and is this the direction of content marketing?
If you look at the 1950’s version of a computer, they were enormous things that took up an entire room. Over time, the product became smaller until it was easy to carry around. Content marketing is still a bulky affair that is not yet completely centralized, or inherent to every company’s business strategy. We are, however, moving in that direction, as excellent writing meets marketing intelligence. The process is increasingly becoming more seamless. Businesses are beginning to embrace social’s impact to their bottom line.
“Authentic”, at this stage in the game, can involve several practices, such as:
- A company determining their brand’s core traits and “voice” for consistency
- A company knowing its target market and their online habits
- Writers creating content that continues to match and promote these traits
- A company taking responsibility, rapidly and publicly, for any gaps in service
- A company leveraging social media’s real-time attributes to stay connected to its customers.
When we talked about social media listening in the last few years, we all talked about “the noise” of social data. Big data was something we all took seriously, mostly because it had the word “big” in it.
Over time, I feel that authenticity, transparency and humanness will shine through as we become more adept with the tools we use. Social marketing practices will become more streamlined. Perhaps the forum of social marketing and the transparency we all strive for will force us to create meaningful content, and not filler. Marketing jargon, unfortunately, is something that will most likely never go away. Perhaps having reached the point of becoming incredibly tired of the words we use is a sign that we’ve become so good at it, that we no longer need to talk about how to get it done.