Did you know that your pictures on Snapchat don’t really disappear? In 2013, Subway suffered a lawsuit in Australia after consumers noticed their “footlong” subs were not one foot in length.

The demand for truthful advertising and authentic online content has never felt more necessary for businesses. One survey found that only 18% of consumers thought business leaders were truthful and less than half felt businesses did the right thing.

Ayn Rand famously wrote that “one must never fake reality in any manner.” Theorists and opponents may argue that blatant lies and deceptive advertising actually serves the self-interest of the company itself. What if it didn’t?

Importance of Authenticity in Content Marketing

The average consumer is becoming much more savvy in their content and advertising consumption, spotting clickbait headlines and false value propositions better than you may expect. In the cutthroat world of ecommerce and digital marketing, being authentic in your content provides a much needed competitive advantage.

Consider the fact that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Providing an inaccurate value proposition without fulfillment on the product end will inevitably tank your short terms business success and diminish your content marketing ROI.


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According to one study, “75% of consumers surveyed across 14 markets believe that companies are not open and transparent.” Fortunately, the same study found that 9 in 10 customers are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity.

Authentic content marketing improves your brand’s authority, helps retain existing customers and even assists in acquiring new customers. Consider the numerous advantages that composing personalized, authentic content could provide for your business and its brand.

  • Makes your business more relatable

  • Encourages user engagement and the submission of user-generated content

  • Establishes your brand’s identity and reputation- could lead to influencer status

  • Creates brand advocates- not just loyalists

  • Adds value to your content- wouldn’t learn from a teacher who’s not certified

  • Provides a benefit for your customers and a rewarding reading experience

  • Builds trust among your customers

  • Educates and informs readers

  • Dissuades negative audience members from engaging- clearly communicates what the content’s intended audience is

Content marketing’s virtue lies in its pull marketing tactics to create awareness around a need and nurture leads through your sales funnel. Clickbait headlines, content spun for keywords and deceptive content will betray your customer’s trust and result in leaks in your sales funnel.

Tips

Provide Social Proof

Businesses should focus on conveying the human side of their business through their content marketing campaigns. Brand storytelling, behind-the-scenes information, and consumer polls to better understand audience members are excellent content marketing strategies to make your business more relatable and engaging.

It’s key to supplement these strategies through an organic social media outreach program. Showcase your brand’s personality through your blog, webinars, etc. and share them over social media. Honor all feedback and engage directly with consumers through posts that ask a thought provoking question or even commenting on community forums and online groups.

Encourage the use of user-generated content and provide content that applies to members of your brand community. These strategies provide social proof for your brand’s authenticity and relatability.


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Content Production Best Practices

Content serves to provide a benefit for its audience and should ultimately be relevant to user intent. Content should also be authoritative to provide actionable tips or strategies that educate and serve your audience’s needs.

Provide relevance through thorough keyword research and by identifying underserved topics in your niche and among your audience. Optimize all meta tags, including your headline, to provide relevant categorization of your content blocks. This strategy provides easy scannability for readers, as well as keyword specific indexation of your content for search engines.

Establish authority through consistent, superb content production. Create landing pages for each of your topical categories that provide a best practice overview to educate unfamiliar internet scrollers about what your information represents and what it applies to.

Ideally, most of your content should be long-form (above 300 words). Leverage semantic SEO to answer as many user questions relevant to your topic as possible to improve your webpage’s chances to achieve a featured snippet and rank for multiple keywords.

Consider repurposing long form blog posts into infographics or videos. You could also expand upon your blog posts to create a white paper that establishes ample authority for your brand.

Always remember the golden rule of content marketing: write for an audience with an 8th grade reading level and very little understanding of your industry. It’s important to refrain from overusing jargon and grandiloquent terms in your general content. Authentic content should be useful to anybody who consumes it.

Leverage your content to show off the benefits of purchasing or utilizing a service/product you offer. Ensure that your content is realistic and it’s ideal to use statistics and case-studies to back up any value proposition you make.

Once you’ve completed your keyword research and identified underserved needs in your niche, it’s time to market your content over the right channels. Conduct extensive audience research using tools, such as BuzzSumo, Google Analytics, and Google AdWords to identify the social networks, devices, and times of day your audience most frequently interacts with your brand.

Understanding your audience allows you to craft authentic content that meets a real need.

Brand Outreach

There are a numerous tactics your business can utilize to prove your authenticity to your general audience. Charitability goes a long way in establishing trust in your community and developing relationships.

Consider donating to a charity, sponsoring a charity, or participating in charitable events within your local community. This will make you look good and feel good and you don’t even need to get a gym membership or eat healthy.

One method to build trust is to respect user’s privacy rights. Privacy issues have been a controversial issue for major brands, even giants such as Google and Apple. According to a global study by Cohn and Wolfe, privacy serves as a “core component of what makes a brand authentic in the eyes of consumers.”

Finally, your business needs to be responsive to consumer complaints and held accountable. Your content marketing campaign will be deemed inauthentic if the fulfillment end of your products/services fails to meet consumer needs. Providing a valued customer service should realistically be the focus of any business.

Conclusion

Why fake reality in any form? Deceptive advertising and spun content has led to a rising demand for authenticity among brands. Businesses who choose to pursue an authentic content marketing strategy will be rewarded with an advantage over the competition.  

Authentic content marketing should help serve all of your marketing objectives and a it’s a great strategy to foster brand loyalty among your target audience. Communicate the human side of your business and keep your value propositions realistic. Consider Einstein’s quote, when he stated, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

Your business is important; show that it matters.