The Importance of Authenticity in the Digital Space

Monday, March 16, 2020

As we enter 2020, we move towards a highly competitive digital space that asks us to consider authenticity first and foremost. The digital marketing industry continues to be a world for us to explore and ask questions; yet, the answers always come back to one thing: brand authenticity.

"It is crucial for brands to remain true to their own identity or narrative, whilst conforming to this category idea."

People are looking for a meaningful connection with brands, and are quick to identify when narratives appear fake or forced. Brands need to avoid the easy pitfall of entering the realm of stereotype or caricature. This happens when narratives are visibly lacking in substance, veracity, and of course, authenticity," explains Fran Alberry, head of cultural insight at Firefish.

Authenticity can often be difficult to establish and maintain as the concept is so subjective— yet there are many deciding factors that play a role. Both how you are perceived and how much trust you can garner lays on the hopes of a basic reflection on character, competence, and loyalty. Through consistency and familiarity, brand authenticity can be accomplished through a brand delivering on their promise and creating that "loyal" and meaningful relationship with their consumers.

Authenticity in a digital space is almost unavoidable now, and coincidentally, the one thing that cannot be bought, borrowed, or forced.

According to Stackla, 90% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support yet the majority of consumers, 51%, say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic. We are faced with an endless stream of content, on a second-to-second basis, and prioritizing creating brand authenticity can be the anomaly that sets a brand apart.

As social media becomes a ground for boundless exploration, we see consumers themselves are creating content they seek from brands. Depending on the nature of your brand, this trend of user-generated content can be utilized as a vehicle to boost brand authenticity. We've seen many successful corporations follow through with this content strategy and working flawlessly— Calvin Klien and their "#InMyCalvins" campaign, Starbucks with the "#RedCupContest" every December that ends with a prize, and Aerie and their hashtag "#ArieReal" which promotes authenticity through body image in the world of social media's pressurizing beauty standards.

According to TurnTo Networks, 90% of consumers say that user-generated content influences their buying decision more than any other form of advertising. By strategically tapping into this, brands can identify unbiased voices by consumers who are organically satisfied. It organically draws in higher engagement levels, increases brand loyalty, and widens the audience reach.

The digital space is a tricky battlefield to navigate through, but understanding a consumer's needs and wants at a fundamental level is critical in achieving authenticity. When consumers feel aligned to a brand's voice, purpose, and narrative, loyalty is born. A brand dedicated to removing any disruptions that obstruct the relationship is a brand that is in control of the elements that drive a consumer's perception about the brand. In a day and age where an audience's interests are continuously shifting, and shifting quickly, being a step ahead to attract organic interactions maintains seamless, strong, and secure connections. This can only be done with authenticity.

Connecting with your community with complete transparency is imperative. Simply by actively listening to what they feel is important, their values, etc, it offers accessibility in an expanding global marketplace where content gets lost every second. These minute, yet heavily impacting interactions become a place where brands can nurture this sense of community. According to SocialMediaToday, 61% of consumers believe authenticity is the most important component of impactful content.

Accomplishing this with user-generated content, visual content, and brand messaging on digital platforms, you allow full flexibility and space for consumers to experience brand authenticity. The brand itself must have complete clarity in its voice and mission— driving honesty and transparency. Whether your content marketing is interactive, sensorial, or personalized, finding the perfect balance of seeming more human and less corporate can bridge the content gap successfully!