To ensure your business has an authentic online presence you can follow a few of our simple tips.
Authenticity and consumer trust is not built overnight, however there are many simple and practical ways you can grow your authenticity effectively, starting today.
Tips to building your business’ authentic online presence:
- Get real
- Be a champion
- Consistently be consistent
- Put your money where your mouth is
- Be responsive
- Respect Privacy
- True reflection
- Content filter (yes, you need one!)
- Get real:
The best way to be seen as authentic is to simply be authentic. In business, a great way to convincingly demonstrate your authenticity is by going back to basics. Take some time to review your mission statement and take another look at your business goals. Next, look at your own personal beliefs and core values and ask yourself: does this business have a purpose beyond making a profit? Even if you think at first the answer is ‘no’, keeping your core values, beliefs and your business’ mission statement in mind, is there a way for your business to help others, or to help the local community, that springs to mind? Do your business practices help the environment? The answer may be already at your fingertips. Which leads us to our next point...
- Be a champion:
Does your business champion a cause? Are you associated with any charities? People who work hard for charitable causes gain people’s respect with ease. In an effort to convince consumers, innovative businesses are attempting to infuse their brands with personality, and in effect, become more like people in their online interactions.
Businesses are forging deeper connections with their online audience by demonstrating they have a ‘social purpose’. Social purpose has been identified (2012 Goodpurpose study) as a purchase driver in situations where quality and price were equal. So why not champion a cause to show your business’ charitable nature?
- Consistently be consistent:
Your business should offer the same experience to customers offline and online. Mixed messages breed mistrust.
Ensure the voice you use in your social media posts remains consistent with the voice you use on your website (and, stays constant across all media platforms).
The key to authenticity is to maintain the core identity of your business at all times, across all platforms.
- Put your money where your mouth is:
In short, back up what you say by delivering on your promises.
Today’s shrewd consumers can see through puff and banter to any lack of substance underneath. Avoid embarrassment, poor reviews and dissatisfied customers by never posting misleading information and never making promises you can’t deliver on!
- Be responsive:
It is imperative to make getting in touch with you as easy as possible. It makes a huge difference when a customer knows you (yes, an actual REAL person) are there to respond quickly, politely and effectively if and when there may be an issue.
People are fed up with being directed to a site’s FAQ’s when they land on the company’s contact page. Companies win no love when they make contacting them as difficult as possible, yet so many of them do exactly that. Naturally, most people prefer to deal with a person and not a machine or auto-responder.
Smart small businesses are taking consumer spend away from larger corporates by simply making sure their customer service team is there to lend a helping hand when needed. As many of the larger companies avoid personal consumer contact, smaller businesses are seizing the occasion to establish their reputation in customer care.
Your customer service dealings provide you with an opportunity to inject sincerity and a personal element to each communication; both will go a long way to building your solid reputation as an authentic business.
- Respect Privacy:
People trust you to guard their private information and it is important that you respect this trust and never on-sell or share customer data.
Remember, it shows integrity when you respect customer privacy and honour the trust they have placed in you.
- True reflection:
A great way to build authenticity is through social media, but beware: your images must be authentic. The imagery you use in your social media posts (and on your website) should reflect the core of who you are, what you do and whom you serve.
You should actively engage with your online audience. Take the opportunity to show your business’ personality through blogs, videos, posts, product and/or services update and even staff bios!
Remember, only share things of value and take time to tailor your content across the different social media platforms. After all, social media is a fantastic way to position your business as an authority, using your experience and expertise to answer questions from your audience.
If your business makes a mistake, own it. The humble apology can diffuse the harshest of critics, and aid the repair your public reputation.
Being honest and accountable is the only way to handle a regrettable situation - without making it all the worse!
- Content filter (yes, you need one!):
Share your company’s mission and your passions enthusiastically! But remember, you don’t have to over-share to prove you are real.
Feel free to share advice or inside information where appropriate, but never feel obliged to share more than you are comfortable with, especially in regard to how your business operates behind the scenes.
Building authenticity does not rest on how much you are willing to divulge. Poorly thought out content will work against you in the end, as will posting content of no value. Keep in mind that real authenticity isn’t manufactured, and won’t happen overnight, so patience will be required.
The trend towards genuine and authentic business practice is not going away anytime soon. For advice on how to ensure your website shines as an authentic portrayal of your business, contact us for a chat.