We read articles every day about million dollar bloggers and the “bank” they’re making through social media and blog posts. Often times, the lines between genuine content and paid material are blurred, causing the reader to question what is real and what is fake. This has brought the whole topic of authenticity front and center. Authenticity is a word that has been used so much that it honestly had to “re-brand”; with every professional promising authenticity comes another being called out for being the opposite. So, what does it mean to be authentic with your brand, in the days of sponsored tweets, photos and posts? Surely advertorial content is what helps most companies stay afloat and enables creatives share their passions with the world. What is important is being honest with readers and selective in the thoughts, ideas and products that you choose to share. And how do you stay authentic through it all? Here are a few tips:
1. Be Yourself:
Those who follow me on Instagram know that I include my own personal dose of “Kunbi” in every post. I was a bit wary about this originally because a brand is a brand, and we’ve heard the myth of how your brand should be flawless to the naked eye. It is just that- a myth. The truth is, times have changed and your brand is just as much you as it is your content. Personality sells hand in hand with what you’re delivering (if you don’t believe me, ask the Kardashians).
2. Be Vulnerable
Part of being yourself is also being honest and transparent about what you can offer. This is beneficial for two reasons:
- You’re not selling false hope and a dream when you can’t really achieve it. The whole point of marketing in the first place is to draw customers and build a following so it makes absolutely no sense for you to draw these ideal customers in and fail to deliver.
- Imperfection is a relatable value. You’d be surprised that the pitfalls and humbling moments in your career are some of the things that people will connect most with. Realness is so much more interesting than perfection, so own your flaws and rise above.
With the rise of social media, you’re no longer speaking TO people but with them. Conversation and engagement are key to building an audience that trusts you and having that trust is key to conversion. It’s no longer just about the number of clicks or who’s most popular. The real question now is: who’s trusted? The readers who trust you and know your voice will stay with you through your journey. This is also where networking and engaging with your fellow creative and wedding professionals come in. The more you’re interacting with your peers and supporting their efforts, whether through social media, or through their events, the more you’re trusted and possibly recommended for future partnerships.
4. Be True to Yourself
What are your values? What are you trying to represent? And most importantly, what do you want? Keeping this at the forefront of your strategy, helps maintain consistency and avoid audience confusion. Things get confusing when you keep switching your focus up over and over. Try and focus on what it is you want your audience to take away from you. At the end of day all that matters, is that you’re representing yourself in a way that makes you proud.
5. Surround yourself with Solid People
You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. We get it, this is your baby, and while it may take you out of your comfort zone, in the end the only way to truly grow is to expand. Find people who share your values and work ethic and use them as a sounding board. Brainstorm, bounce ideas off of them, and it will keep you grounded. If you have a solid team backing you up, you’re unstoppable.
6. Stay Inspired
Remember when this was all a daydream? When it was a doodle in a notebook? Don’t lose the passion that got you here in the first place. It’s normal for inspiration to evolve and take on new shapes, but what’s important is to look for inspiration every single day. If you find yourself reworking, rewriting or repurposing content, it’s time to shake things up. At the end of the day, readers can tell when you’re phoning it in. So don’t be afraid to try new things, look for ideas in new places and network with the best of them to get that excitement and creativity flowing again. Stay present, stay passionate, stay inspired and at the end of the day you won’t have to worry about being authentic because you’ll already be there.