We all have a fill in the blank: “in order to build my business, I need to _____.” Most often, what we say here will reflect revenue-generating tactics. After all, the bottom line is the litmus test for success. Right?
In reality, the economy is making sizable shifts that favor personality in addition to profitability. In other words, consumers are willing to pay more for artisan products, to support small businesses and to align with values they care about. In this shifting landscape, it isn’t enough to do a charity run once a year and call it a day. Your business has a gigantic opportunity to rethink authenticity and connections.
Here are some ideas from the peeps at Hire a Writer to get you started.
How to Be Authentic
Unfortunately, the actual answer to that question isn’t a three-step process that lands you in a haloed space of attractiveness to millennials. Authenticity, by definition, can’t be faked or fast-tracked. There are a few key components to establishing this as part of your brand identity.
Take the time.
Even young people are beginning to express their desire to quality over quantity, for meaning over efficiency. While these things aren’t mutually exclusive, the experience of buying into a brand is becoming more complex. People are willing to dig a little, to read online reviews and to understand what you’re all about.
The takeaway? If future customers are going to take the time, so should you. Time is what it takes to excel on social media platforms. Time is what it takes to DM, to build relationships, to get to know your customers. Whatever scale you are on, this is achievable. It isn’t too granular to bother with. If you don’t take time right now to make these investments, you could find that you have plenty of time once you’ve been eclipsed by brands who did.
Anyone can write anything about your company. If you have any social or public presence, you will get bad reviews. Some reviews are so bad, you need PR intervention. Others are nuisances. You may be tempted to hide these, to brush them off, to forget about them.
Interestingly, this isn’t the right approach. One survey found that 95% of customers suspect that if a company has only good reviews, they have either been censored or are fake. Negative reviews may actually contribute to authenticity. How you respond to them gives you an amazing opportunity to showcase your brand’s values and voice.
In any size business, people are starting to look to the top. Maybe you can thank Tony Hsieh. Either way, what a corporate culture is and represents in the marketplace can have a bearing on your profitability. Arguably, it does so more and more. This means that you can’t just have quality core values written down: they need to be visible.
Of course your business will highlight what you do on a workplace level to create equality or promote creativity. But what about the actual leaders? What do those LinkedIn profiles look like? What are those Twitter feeds full of? If all of your executives are roboticized or managed by social media staff, you are missing an opportunity to connect with customers.
It is possible to achieve the right balance of personal and professional in your social persona. There are a few examples of people who do this exceptionally well.
Elon Musk has a social presence, especially on Twitter, that makes you feel like every TESLA is his personal offspring. His passionate, personal and sometimes hilarious posts are highly relatable while also being a constant spotlight for the brands he represents.
Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, has a Twitter feed that isn’t huge but is so hilarious and conversational that you immediately want to Google the company… and maybe work there.
Doug McMillon, CEO OF Walmart, is one of the most connected and prolific CEOs out there. His persona is not jokey and it is very brand-oriented but it’s also down to earth and relatable.
Sara Blakely, CEO of SPANX, brings it all to the table on IG: pics of her kids, funny news stories, inspirational quotes. She has a great personality and it’s on display in a cool, girlfriend kind of way.
Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, peppers in #runwithhans adventures of his own among the standard-fare, company promoting posts. This hybrid enhances his relatability and power of connection.
The examples above are illustrative of how these executives project their personal voice on social media. If you are, by nature, reserved, quiet and cerebral, you don’t have to pretend to be wacky, zany and irreverent. The key is to be who you really are, not some facsimile of what you imagine people want.
Why be Authentic?
So, it clearly takes time and energy to make connections. This may not feel like part of your job description. Whether you are an executive, board member, corporate salesperson or in IT, you have a vital role to play in your business. And, if you are active and authentic, you can make connections that transform the nature of your work.
Businesses are in danger when they dehumanize their customers. By acknowledging and honoring the people who buy from you—whether 10 million or 10 in total—there is an authentic respect that will be understood.
You should be authentic because people can tell when you aren’t. You should be authentic because it’s important to live out what you say you believe.You should be authentic because the survival of your business could depend on it.
Craft your story, write your about page with intention, inhabit social media with a plan. Don’t segregate your business from the relationships you form with customers. This will make all of the difference.
Need help doing it? Reach out to Hire a Writer.