As social media platforms evolve, businesses must adapt to engage with their audiences. Amid these changes, one constant remains powerful: authenticity. Social media manager and content strategist Sharon Chidra Jonah of Buzz Social is a big believer in authenticity. We got her insights on why it’s such a crucial tenet of successful social media marketing.
The Power of Authenticity
“Being authentic on social media means being true to yourself, your brand, your values, your mission, and your why,” Sharon explains. This authenticity helps businesses and personal brands stand out amidst the noise.
This view is bolstered by the latest research, which holds that “consumers[‘] search for authenticity is one of the cornerstones of contemporary marketing.” A 2016 study found that cultural authenticity improved brand perception for Chinese brands in the US. Asian-inspired designs in the brand logos were seen as more culturally authentic.
That cultural authenticity increased how unique the consumers perceived the brand to be. And that perception increased the brands’ perceived uniqueness. Ultimately, that perception of uniqueness increased US consumers’ willingness to try the brands.
Sharon’s advice aligns with those findings. She discourages the idea of trying to fit into a specific mold. Instead, she says individuals and businesses should stay true to themselves. Then, your unique brand identity can be a competitive advantage.
But navigating authenticity is complex. There are no set rules or guidelines. What works for one individual or brand may not work for another. “It’s simple, but it’s not easy,” Sharon says.
Defining Your Brand: What, How, and Why
How can businesses navigate this complexity and maintain authenticity?
Sharon recommends businesses ask themselves three key questions:
- What are you doing?
- How are you doing it?
- And why are you doing it?
The ‘what’ focuses on the type of content you’re creating and the topics you’ll discuss. The ‘how’ relates to your style and personality — the way you speak, write, and appear on social media. The ‘why’ delves into your mission and values, the driving force behind your actions.
“A lot of people mistakenly focus only on the ‘why,” Sharon cautions. “But your ‘what’ is just as important as your ‘why’.”
Answering these questions forms a strong foundation for your brand. That foundation enables you to create content authentic to your values.
The Four Factors of Brand Authenticity
Research published in The Journal of Psychology & Marketing suggests that four factors lead to perceived authenticity:
The same research found that perceived authenticity improves outcomes.
Your Personality as a Business Advantage
Sharon emphasizes the value of using your personality as a business advantage.
“Your personality makes you unique,” Sharon says. By letting your personality shine through your content, your brand becomes more relatable and distinct.
“Don’t be static, don’t be a robot,” she says. “Show people a real person exists behind this brand.”
Striking the Balance
Balancing authenticity and brand goals can present a challenge. Some aspects of your personality may not align with your business brand or goals. So finding the overlap between what’s authentic to you and your business is crucial.
Uses your unique personality traits to stand out and build stronger bonds with your audience. Sharon’s insights offer valuable guidance for anyone looking to build a stronger brand presence.