What determines whether your content marketing campaign effectively brings in the business you’re looking for or whether it falls flat – or worse – actually damages your company’s reputation? There are a lot of elements that go into creating great content, including powerful brand storytelling, but if your content is inauthentic, it could be doing harm to your business instead of helping you build a loyal customer base.
In today’s post, we offer a brief overview of why authenticity is critical to your content marketing success and five things to keep in mind as you or your copywriters create the content that tells your brand story.
Why Authenticity Must be a Cornerstone of Your Content Marketing Strategy
At first glance, it would seem like authenticity and marketing should constantly be at odds – but only if you view marketing as inherently manipulative. The point of all marketing, after all, is to make sales and grow your business, so any content marketing you engage in that looks altruistic is always going to have a profit motive behind it.
However, most businesses aren’t setting out with a stated goal of manipulating people into buying their products. The true goal of content marketing should be to connect your business with the people who have a need for your products and services.
If you look at content marketing as a relationship builder – creating trust between your business and your potential customers – it becomes evident why authenticity is so important in marketing.
It’s hard for people to trust a business or another person that appears to be inauthentic. Today’s social media-driven and Internet-savvy consumers can smell an opportunistic motive from miles away, and they are quick to brush aside anything that looks like “fake news” or advertising.
Authenticity can seem like an amorphous concept when you’re trying to create great content, especially when there are more concrete things to consider, such as the quality of the writing or whether you’ve optimized your content with the right keywords. But consider this: the number one thing consumers want from brands is honesty. And that’s why it’s so important to keep authenticity as a cornerstone of your content marketing strategy.
How to Ensure All of Your Content is Authentic
Fortunately, creating authentic content that your customers will love and engage with doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep these five tips in mind as you develop your content, and you’ll likely hit the mark every time.
1. Understand who you are and who you are not
Let’s take a look at a classic example of inauthentic content marketing to illustrate this point. Back in 2014, Chick-fil-A created a website called “Let’s Gather” that focused on articles about healthy, eco-friendly living. This is probably already setting off alarm bells in your head. Why? Because Chick-fil-A is a fast food chain that serves up a not-so-healthy menu. Unsurprisingly, it was a big flop.
The lesson: a content strategy that steps outside the bounds of a business’s values and actions is doomed to failure. You must know who you are as a company and who you are not in order to know whether you’re creating authentic content.
2. Understand your customers
It’s pretty hard to create content that resonates with your potential customers if you don’t know what they care about or what challenges they face. Creating buyer personas and keeping them constantly updated with new data will help you stay true to what your customers want from you – and there’s nothing more authentic than genuinely giving people the content they want.
3. Find the right moments to talk about
As Carol Barash notes in her article for Content Marketing Institute, “Every brand lives for customers as a series of touch points.” The stories you tell should be about connecting your brand with the moments that have real meaning in people’s lives. Think about how your product or service is used, and think about the impact it has on your customers’ day-to-day lives.
4. Evoke the right emotions
When you connect with people by talking about moments that resonate with them, there’s a good chance that what you are doing is evoking a powerful emotion. But keep in mind – you could be talking about a moment that people connect with, but not in the way you hope. It’s important to make sure you’re bringing up the right emotions for people.
Hope, fear, anger, love – they’re all powerful motivators that can go terribly wrong if you don’t understand your audience or you miss what a moment is truly about. Emotions are nuanced, as Pepsi learned in 2017 with its ad featuring Kendall Jenner. They tried to go for hope, but it came off as insensitive to the real frustrations felt by the members of the Black Lives Matter movement.
5. Acknowledge your humanity
There’s a reason that live video is currently one of the fastest growing types of content. People see live video as unpolished and honest. There’s no chance for someone to correct a mistake or fix a flyaway strand of hair, and people appreciate the raw truth that all humans are flawed. People don’ t like characters in a book to be perfect, because the flaws give them a way to connect to the character, and the same goes for the “characters” in your content marketing stories.
Effective content marketing creates a relationship between your brand and your potential customers. As with any relationship, it takes time and authenticity to build up trust – and trust is the key ingredient for making and keeping your customers happy.
If you’re struggling to keep up with creating enough content to build a relationship with your customers, and you’re thinking you might want to hire content writers, Virtucom Group offers convenient monthly content packages that are designed to match the volume of content you need.
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