Keepin' It Real - Why Your Marketing Needs to Be Authentic in 2020

At June’s Navigating the Unknown Event we had three separate breakout sessions allowing people to customize the experience of the event to their personal preferences. One of the breakout sessions featured Tom Weingarten, also known as @OvertimeTom. Tom is the Head of Social Media for Overtime, a basketball media company with over 10 million followers across the internet with Tom himself being responsible for almost 4 million of them as the man behind the @OvertimeInstagram account. Tom’s breakout session was centered around Going Digital and how you can promote your business online. You can watch the Going Digital replay here.

The Most Important Thing When It Comes to Social Media

During Tom’s talk he identified what he believes to be the most important thing when it comes to social media… authenticity.

Consumers, especially younger ones (who Overtime’s audience mainly comprises) have trained themselves over time (pun not intended) to be able to identify authentic and inauthentic content. If you’re a brand that is not being genuine with your audience, they will see through it easily.

There’s a misconception that brands need to be perfect on social media and differentiating from the norm is a negative. Tom argues that it’s the opposite and says that people want to see the ups and the downs of your company. It’s impossible to be perfect all the time.

Nobody loves a story that is only up all the time. So pull the curtain back, bring your followers behind the scenes and along for the ride. The more authentic you are and the more you share with your audience the more of a connection they feel towards you and your brand.

Have a Little Personality

Another great way to establish authenticity with your social media channels according to Tom is to give them a little personality. People have a difficult time connecting with a faceless brand. People connect much better with actual people than with a logo.

What Overtime has done to add personality to its brand is they have empowered their content creators to put themselves in front of the camera to create in house influencers. People like OvertimeTom, OvertimeLarry and OvertimeMikey are a few of the faces you will see on the Overtime account on a regular basis.

By having them in the account they have become a face that followers will recognize as they scroll through social media. As followers become fans of the creators at Overtime it only deeps their love and connection with the brand.

You might be thinking - we can’t do that with my business (while we think there is always a way to do this) you can still add personality to your profile without putting your staff on camera.

You can add personality to your brand through the content you create and even with the captions you write to accompany your content with. You can tell when a video feels “too corporate” and that won’t resonate with a social media audience. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your team on camera just yet - focus on giving your content some personality. Don’t be afraid to use punctuation, creative spacing and emojis to liven up your social channels.

How COVID-19 Has Led to Brands Creating More Authentic Content

When COVID-19 arrived in North America it changed life as we know it. From a marketing perspective, budgets were slashed, OOH advertising became ineffective with people staying inside all day and a new challenge was added to content creation with everyone working from home.

Tom posits that these new content creation challenges were actually a positive thing as it forced brands to become more genuine with their content. It doesn’t get any more intimate and authentic than someone filming content in their bedroom on a low quality camera over Zoom and the idea of doing that prior to Coronavirus would have been frowned upon. However, people resonated with this type of content as it showed that they were not alone in the challenges of working from home - it humanized brands.

As things start to reopen it’s important for brands not to forget this lesson. You don’t always need to focus on polish, it’s important to focus on personality.

Applying Authenticity To Your Advertising

Our CEO Swish Goswami thinks that the next Dot-Com Bubble is going to be paid advertising for reasons such as ad fraud, ad blockers, lack of control over ad placement and messy attribution. On top of that, paid ads can feel inauthentic.

An alternative way to promote your product or brand is through influencers. There is a long list of reasons why partnering with influencers is an authentic and effective marketing strategy but here are a few:

  • Your advertising will never feel more human than when partnering with an influencer. An influencer is literally a human being. Instead of paying to run a promotion from your brand account you can pay a human being to tell people how great your product or service is.
  • And when an influencer is telling people how great your product is, they aren’t telling strangers. They’re telling their fans and followers. When you’re paying for digital ads you’re often advertising to people cold and hoping your ad catches their eye. With influencers, the audience is already warmed up to the advertiser as it’s a creator they have chosen to follow.
  • Influencers choose what they promote. As opposed to paid ads where anyone and everyone can advertise - influencers can pick what they do and don’t promote. If an influencer is willing to promote your product it also acts as a sort of co-sign. While yes, everyone has a price and some creators will promote anything if the price is right - most influencer marketing is done because creators genuinely enjoy and recommend the product.
  • If you struggle with giving your content personality, someone who isn’t struggling to do that is an influencer. Creating authentic content is what they do. It’s rare for someone to grow an audience with lifeless content. So by having an influencer promote your product with content they’ve created to a group of people that enjoy their content, it’s going to be creating more authenticity than you can create on your own.

Making Your Paid Ads More Authentic

Despite the list of reasons we just listed for why influencer marketing is so effective, some of you may still be beholden to paid ads. We completely understand why you feel that way. If you are still planning on running Facebook Ads, we wanted to share a tip as to how you can make them more effective.

We just mentioned that influencers are able to create extremely authentic content. With that in mind, you can pay creators to create content for you that you then use in your paid ads. This is an easy way to get engaging and effective creative to put paid spend behind. World-class marketer Nik Sharma discussed this strategy on our company podcast. You can listen to that episode here.

Authenticity Is Key

At the end of the day, whether you’re focusing on organic social or paid advertising and whether you’re a SaaS or retail store - authenticity is key.

There are plenty of ways to be authentic online. You can add a little personality to your content, create in house influencers, partner with external influencers for promotion and content creation and so much more. If you’re wondering how to find influencers, our tool Surf for Brands allows you to sort through billions of profiles on Twitter and Instagram in a few quick clicks to find the perfect influencer for you and your brand.