Most people would agree that the term “fake news” has been tossed around frequently over the past several years, to the point that the formerly potent buzzword has lost almost all of its… well, buzz. With so much talk of true and false, there’s little surprise as to why recent generations (including both younger Millennials and Gen Z) are sick of dishonesty and discourse about dishonesty.
These are digital natives, who grew up using the internet in their everyday lives. You might guess that these young individuals could parse a story’s veracity at a glance, but the opposite is true. In a recent study of middle school students, 82% could not distinguish between a news story and an advertisement online while over 30% incorrectly thought that a fake news post was more trustworthy than a verified one. While they weren’t able to properly discern the authenticity of the news, they still cared about the truth.
Long (fake news) story short, younger generations crave content that they can unabashedly believe in, with no morally iffy caveats or secretly sinister goings-on to worry about. 94% of customers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency – in fact, 73% of them would willingly pay more for that guarantee. So why shouldn’t your brand or company harness these statistics by pivoting towards more authentic content?
We’ve previously discussed how to connect with Gen Z via video content and the exceptionally high value that they place on authenticity. In this post, we will expound upon what the concept of “authenticity” even means and how you can use it to create video content that speaks to multiple generations in a fresh, new way.
When tackling the notion of authenticity, the first question that might pop into your mind is: “Can marketing even be authentic?” It’s a fair question to ask. After all, marketing is inherently built around the idea of selling and selling is inherently built around swaying or seducing customers into taking an action you led them to take. So, how can any marketing be authentic?
So what exactly does it mean to be “authentic?”
For starters, authentic brands experience genuine empathy for their audience. That means you, as a video content marketer, have to put your own brand second to what your customers want and think and feel. This may strike some as counter-intuitive as brands are always the focus of traditional advertising, but if you want to be authentic, you need to shift your perspective from trying to sell a specific product or service to selling “value.”
Value is defined by your audience. It’s up to you to find out what actually matters to them. Maybe it’s financial security. Maybe it’s environmental consciousness. Again, you need to put yourself second to your audience. Instead of thinking about the benefits your product/service can provide, think about those benefits from the point of view of your customers. It’s a subtle, but key difference–like inserting a screw into a pre-drilled hole as opposed to driving a nail through a plank.
Constantly and aggressively bringing up your brand in your content will alienate potential customers. They will sense that you see them as nothing but a conduit for sales. If you want to content market strategically, be subtle. Rather than center your content around what you can do for them, show that you are sincerely listening, and take action based on what you hear.
Authenticity is a two-way street. When aiming to generate sales, inviting engagement and creating value-driven interactions are every bit as important as generating the content itself. Your content shouldn’t be trickling down to audiences from an unreachable ivory tower, rather, it should flow to them through platforms that encourage open, democratic communication. To help get you started, take a look at this chart from Big Box Content that efficiently breaks down the process of creating authentic content.
Your goals are to spark conversation and build community. Sometimes, that means asking a question at the end of your content, thoughtfully calculated to stir the pot and get comment sections humming with (respectful) discussions. Sometimes that means actively recruiting viewers to develop user generated content (that your brand can then promote in turn across various social media channels). The end result of such tactics will be not only dramatically increased social media reach, but more importantly, a deeper sense of connection between your brand and your audience. Peel back some layers with authenticity and embrace the benefits of digital intimacy.
While these broad strokes are an excellent way to get the ball rolling when it comes to creating authentic content, there are a wide array of smaller tactics that you should also keep in mind and deploy whenever necessary. After all, authenticity is more than the outcome of one or two sweeping gestures – it must be constructed over time in order for the foundation to be strong.
To help boost the authenticity of your video content, try…
Consumers are not perfect, and your brand shouldn’t pretend to be either.
…speaking your mind.
If your brand does not have well-defined beliefs, why should consumers trust you?
Authenticity does not mean posturing, so keep things simple and sincere.
Consistency is always key, but if your brand voice is not the same across all channels, you will come off as phony.
Naturally, none of these methods is a silver bullet or a cure-all. But taken together with the large-scale steps that we outlined above, your brand will have all the tools that they need to create authentic (and authentically engaging) video marketing content. Just remember, authenticity is not a financial pursuit – it is an ongoing philosophy that will ultimately improve not only your marketing perspective, but the nature of your brand as well.