Comms professionals often ask us how to be more authentic on social media.
This desire to be more human and less corporate is great, but people often don’t know where to start.
Specifically how can you be authentic on social media?
I’ll take you through three examples of social media authenticity in action.
See if they inspire you to be more authentic.
What is being ‘authentic’ on social media?
‘Authenticity’ for me is about not pretending to be something you’re not.
You know what I mean: when the tone sounds all pompous and formal, but it’s been written by an ordinary comms pro like you or me.
When we pretend like the brand is perfect, never cocks up and knows everything.
As communications professionals we can forget that as consumers, we don’t believe the the glossy, flawless exterior that most brands project.
Our audience will trust in us more if we show something believable, that doesn’t feel like a leaflet or a press announcement.
1. Make your tone of voice sound like a person
Tone advice we give communicators is to never hit ‘send’ on a social media post if it doesn’t sound like something you’d say verbally.
Put more succinctly, by the author Elmore Leonard:
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
An example of this comes from The Black Country Living Museum, on Instagram: “We ay half had a bostin’ day in the sunshine today”.
If you’re an organisation that operates in the Black Country, why wouldn’t you use local language like this?
It clearly hit the spot on Instagram.
This feels authentic because local phrases and slang terms are part of our identity. They’re a gift to the communicator who has an audience based in a specific area.
Those phrases we heard since we were kids, they comfort us with nostalgia, they connect us with others who know the phrase, they make us smile.
Back in the day when I worked for a council in South Wales, I’d describe things I liked as ‘lush’. Because I wanted people to know a real person was there, showing genuine enthusiasm for the place.
It sounds like a person said it, not a committee of officials.
If you don’t want your brand personality to be a dry as a cream cracker, local language can be an easy win.
2. Use empathy and see how more real you sound
Prove that there really is a human there by demonstrating some emotions, and relating to your audience’s emotions.
3. Show up as a communicator, and owning the failures
You’d never think it, if you just relied on listening to conference talks and reading CVs – but ALL of us make mistakes, have campaigns that tank, and persist with ideas that don’t work.
There are some fab lessons in there.
And while we might think it’s brave to be open about these unsuccessful projects, it’s actually hugely beneficial to Alexander and the brand he represents.
It’s not brave – it’s confidence that you know your stuff enough to not hide the ‘downs’, and only ever mention the ‘ups’.
The truth is much more impressive than the pretend, perfect versions of ourselves.
In this article, I can see evidence of a highly strategic and creative mind, and an organisational culture that doesn’t squash innovation.
Those mishaps, false starts and lead balloons he mentions have taught his team what works for SYFR’s audience, and what doesn’t.
You don’t get that stuff in a textbook.
For each of the failures, there are probably 20 or more successes. Not trying anything new or creative will never get that kind of pay-off.
Why be embarrassed by sharing the harder parts of your story?
Ultimately, the brand and Alexander himself come off as way more competent and likeable – because it’s refreshingly truthful.
We feel better about our own struggles when we see role models face obstacles too. We trust that what is being said has value, because it’s not a glossy, aspirational misrepresentation of reality that we’re used to.
So maybe you yourself as a communications professional can try being more authentic yourself?
Social Media authenticity in a nutshell
It’s all about getting in touch with how you actually talk, how you see the world when you’re not in work mode and letting people join you for genuine conversations.