Authenticity Rules. The importance of Social Media
Published online March 2015
By Cyrus Afkhami, Founder of My Tutor Club
The explosive growth of social media in the last 8 years has fundamentally, and I would argue perpetually, changed not only the way people interact with each other but also how businesses portray themselves to potential customers. Our daily interaction – some may argue even obsession – with social media has created a new dimension that businesses, regardless of the sector, must engage with if they are to remain relevant in the eyes of their target market.
Before venturing into social media, businesses must undergo an introspective journey of self-analysis and reflection to really understand what their core brand message really is; who are you trying to contact, with what intention are you trying to connect with the audience (educational or broad mass appeal), what are your values, what do you stand for, what is your niche and what is your unique selling point. You can engage however you like but identifying and crystallising your own unique brand and then linking it to your voice allows you to effectively create your own unique online identity. Ensuring that your identity, or rather more specifically the inputs of your identity are real, useful and genuine encourages the authenticity of your social media voice to blossom and demonstrates your voice as influential and worth listening to.
The basis of any successful social media presence is listening, connecting, sharing and engaging. By listening to your audience, sharing their comments and connecting with them, this will facilitate businesses to develop their authentic voice while adhering to their core brand message whilst simultaneously providing its audience with conversation material that is relevant, shared and ultimately respected. Striking a tone that fits well with the target audience – very much in the same way as you would do in real life – will improve your chances of generating meaningful conversation around your brand. Remember that social media users are young and mostly fall in the under-40 bracket; tailor your message and tone accordingly.
The junction, or rather dilemma, that many businesses will eventually arrive at is finding that delicate balance between being open, engaging and authentic while at the same time being commercial. Again, the answer to this lies partly in businesses doing their own self-reflective analysis of defining who they actually want to reach, what is the profile of the target audience and positioning themselves alongside competitors, prospective and current clients, media outlets and industry thought leaders. Hard selling rarely works, especially on social media. Demonstrating your expertise and thought leadership in a particular sector will garner trust and confidence amongst your target audience which ultimately will lead to sales conversions. Resisting the temptation to hard-sell and allowing that open and authentic voice to beam through will increase the likelihood of commercial objectives also being realised.
As all great business leaders have recognised, whether it be Jack Welch, Sir Richard Branson or Jack Ma, nothing was ever achieved on their own. Bringing together, managing and moulding a tightly knit team with a diverse skill set to deliver on the entrepreneur’s vision is often said to be one of the biggest challenges any entrepreneur faces throughout their journey. A well balanced, motivated, enfranchised and driven team is instrumental in creating a neat and vibrant brand which in turn can then be effectively and efficiently communicated on social media. Without the team, there is no business!