Bringing Authenticity to Your Brand

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“Be authentic,” says everyone. It’s one of the most common pieces of advice you get when you’re on social media. Whether you’re a marketer, a business owner, or just someone who enjoys intellectual Twitter chats, you always hear the authenticity word being thrown around. But what exactly does it mean to be authentic on Twitter, and how to go about it?

We invited social media consultant and coach, Julia Jornsay-Silverberg, to talk just about that. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Julia Jornsay-Silverberg
Topic: Bringing authenticity to your brand
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What does it mean to be authentic on social media?

To be authentic is to be yourself. It means you show up on social media as the person you are, and not as who you wish you were. It means you put your genuine self out there for others to see and interact with you. This means that you’re not always strong and in control—to be authentic means that you acknowledge and accept your vulnerabilities and grow past it. It’s not shiny and glittery all the time, and that’s ok.

Putting it another way, Jim said being authentic means that you have the credibility to back up what you’re saying. To have that credibility, however, you have to be transparent with your audience, understand them, and show them the real you.

Q2: Why is authenticity important on social media?

Authenticity triggers an emotional response. When we see someone being heartfelt and genuine, we automatically empathize with them. We’ve all had tough times, and we’ve all messed up. Seeing someone else going through it only increases our connection with them. That’s why authenticity matters on social media. It’s how your audience connects with you.

As Christine went on to explain, this initial connection we form develops into familiarity and trust. This Know-Like-Trust factor is the foundation of any relationship—including buyer and seller. After all, once you get to know someone, you no longer treat them just as a person you do business with. Instead, you’ll start treating them as a friend. People who buy from friends stick around for the long haul.

Q3: How can brands bring an authentic voice to social media?

Our guest shared a couple of suggestions including signing tweets off with your name, especially if your brand has more than one person managing social handles. This also helps your team members bring their own voice to a tweet instead of a cold brand that’s hard to connect with.

Another way to bring authenticity to your social media is to showcase the faces behind the handles. Promote your team members to your audience so the next time they see a signature they recognize, they know who they’re talking to. When you put faces to names, communication flows easily and more genuinely.

Dewi made a great point about prepared responses, especially for customer support on social media. Ditch the guidebook and, instead, respond to customers from your heart. The more honest and transparent your responses, the more authentic you are.

Q4: What are the benefits of showcasing your personality on social media?

Your personality is a signal to your audience. If you’re a high-energy person, like our guest, when you showcase your personality on social media, you attract others who draw inspiration and joy from engaging with a high-energy person. That’s why your personality is a great way to initiate conversations and build connections.

Our friends from OnePitch made another good point about the benefit of showing off your personality on social media. As they said, when you’re being yourself, you’re telling people your story and who you are. When you do this as a brand, you create a narrative for your brand as a whole. Humans are naturally keen to hear and participate in other people’s stories. So when you have a brand story, your audience will automatically want to be a part of that narrative.

Q5: Can brands have a voice that’s distinct from the business owner?

Certainly. A business owner doesn’t necessarily have to be the voice of the brand. Instead, your brand can have a completely individual voice that complements the owner’s voice. How you form the brand’s voice depends on who manages the social media handles and how they form the brand’s voice. This voice should be a conscious decision made by the stakeholders involved in the brand so that everyone can help maintain that voice.

A good way to look at this is as Alyx explained. While the brand’s voice should reflect the business owner’s values, the brand’s voice includes the voices of those who manage it on a daily basis and the audience who regularly engage with it. That’s why employee-generated content (EGC) and user-generated content (UGC) are valuable in defining the brand’s overall voice.

Q6: Are there any drawbacks to showcasing your personality on social media?

A big and quickly-obvious drawback is that you’ll realize that not everyone likes you. This is an important part of defining your brand’s unique voice because it shows that you’re not for everyone. If anything, it narrows your audience, helping you reach the most relevant people first.

The most damaging effect of showcasing your personality on social media comes when you do it half-heartedly, as Javier pointed out. For example, if you started to establish your personality, but in-between decided to change course, the lack of consistency will confuse your audience.

Q7: What are your top Twitter tips for brands that want to be more authentic?

Encourage your employees and team members to have fun and enjoy themselves. When they’re genuinely happy with their work, it’ll reflect on their social interactions as well. This includes even the employees who don’t handle your Twitter handle. When they’re sincerely happy to be part of your brand, they’ll automatically create and share content that’s unique to your brand.

That leads to another crucial point that Theodora mentioned. Don’t micromanage your social media managers. Let them take autonomy of their activities. Show that you trust them to do their job well.

Q8: What are some brands that have a great and authentic voice on Twitter?

Jeremy’s shout-out went to #TwitterSmarter OG Brian Fanzo. If you’ve seen Brian’s work, you’ll know that he’s passionate about his work and constantly talking about all the things that matter most to him. Everything in his profile—from bio, images, to tweets and videos—is a reflection of his personality.

Other favorites included Paper Boat drinks, Innocent drinks, ScotRail, Orkney Library, Big Orange Heart, and a handful of others.

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through, and for more great insights from our chat with Julia, check out this Twitter thread. And if you thought this summary was pretty good, come along to the live chat—it’ll be even more awesome! We hang out on Twitter every Thursday from 1pm ET—use #TwitterSmarter and join the fun.

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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