Authenticity is what sets apart the great from the good, the influential from the meh, or something that stands out from something that has been said a million times before. In fact, authenticity defines all leaders in every industry.
There are endless amounts of content in today’s online world, and brands want their specific message to be heard. Thus, the advent of content and digital marketing services. But, what should a brand do? Should they directly promote themselves or aim to be as authentic as possible so that the message will reach the audience it is trying to touch?
Authenticity Versus Content Marketing
This question is harder than ever to answer, considering how extraneous online content has grown. In order for a brand to be considered authentic, they must create their own content by telling their own story and not just reposting what others have already said.
A lot of brands are confusing content with authenticity. Sure, they both talk about the company’s story and values, but they do so in two different ways: content is what you say; authenticity is how you say it. Content marketing focuses on the product’s story, while authenticity on the story of the company behind it. It is all about what you do and authenticity on why you do it.
And why should brands prioritize authenticity above content marketing?
Well, because everyone else does – and by doing so, it’s harder to be heard over the noise. There are too many brands competing for people’s attention, and as such, the best way to stand out has become an emphasis on authenticity.
The most successful digital marketing services and content marketing campaigns come from authenticity – and generally speaking, there are two types: those that focus on the product and those that focus on the people behind it.
Brands like Apple or Patagonia have an extremely loyal audience, and they both do this by focusing on the people behind the brand rather than the product itself. It’s not about what Apple makes or offers, and it’s why Steve Jobs believed in it.
There are some exceptions to the rule, like Coca Cola for example – but even they have done a great deal of storytelling around their social responsibility work.
So, what does this mean for brands?
It means that the era of content marketing has come to an end. It’s time to prioritize authenticity above all else. While there are still plenty of brands out there who use content marketing like it was something new, the vast majority of them should be focusing on building trust and telling the story behind their products.
What brands should do is stop selling and start storytelling. Yes, it’s all about creating great content. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be product-focused. Instead of trying to tell people why they’d buy your product, focus on telling stories about the people who made them in the first place.
If a brand invests too much in content marketing and creating fake, Instagrammable moments with their products, the audience will merely see that as promotional and not authentic. That can severely damage a brand’s reputation.
If a brand decides to be as authentic as possible and tell its story, they risk having the product ignored as it will not reach as large of an audience. However, that does stand out from other brands who just post sponsor-type content full of hashtags promoting every single thing they sell without any consideration for the effects of their posts.
At the end of the day, brands should prioritize authenticity over content marketing because it allows a brand’s true tone to shine through and share what makes them different rather than just following everyone else.
In today’s day and age, people are more interested in stories about companies than their products – and as such, there’s no better time to prioritize authenticity over content marketing. Of course, it’ll be hard for brands who aren’t used to this approach – but it’s not impossible.
Yes, it requires a lot of courage. However, it’ll be well worth the effort in the long run. It’s a trend that has been developing for a while now, and as such, there are plenty of brands that have already made this transition successfully.
That being said, the era of generic content marketing is over – it’s time to focus on authenticity above all else.