3 Steps to Create Authentic Social Media Content

Graham Forsyth

Editor’s note: For the first post in a three-part customer engagement series, we spoke with Laura Perez, Head of Social Media at Germany-based digital marketing agency EIGHTYDOTS. In this post, we examine why too many brands emphasize pushing their product over understanding their audience.

To view another part of this series, click below:

Push or pull? Getting the right balance of communication with your audience has never been more important — and making those connections is at the heart of the work that EIGHTYDOTS does. The EIGHTYDOTS approach considers that for your brand to add value to a consumer, it has to tick off four essential requirements:

Awareness — they need to know about you

Brand — they need to emotionally connect with you

Product— they need to see what differentiates your product or service from others

Experience — they need to have a positive interaction with you

“We help customers get a certain service with all of these four elements,” explains Perez, “and advertising is just a small part of awareness. It’s important in the mix, but we know that when people choose a brand, they do so more with their hearts than their heads.”

When people choose a brand, they do so more with their hearts than their heads.

Laura Perez digs deeper by giving an example of EIGHTYDOTS’ work with a major automotive client. “If you look at things from the customer’s perspective, you realize no one is looking for a car just because of the product. It’s more what it does for them, what emotions it delivers, and the expectations it fulfills.”

In the digital world, customer journeys are anything but linear, and competitors spring up in all directions. So there’s never been a better time to identify opportunities to build trust and engage with emotion. It helps you stand out from the crowd and forms the foundation for long-term brand building. It encourages repeat business and positive word of mouth. And compelling, authentic content brings people right to the door.

It helps to start with the truth, as your customer sees it. Once you’ve become hyper-aware of your customer’s point of view, use these three steps to discover and create authentic content.

1. Find the story

You already know what your existing customers are saying about you on social media; if you don’t, it’s certainly worth finding out with Intelligence. But they’re not the only ones you need to reach. What are people you’ve never spoken to saying about their need for your product or service — even if they’ve never heard of you?

“Insight is key,” says Perez, “we listen to consumers as well as interact with them to identify real demands and needs. And of course you have to do this internationally for each brand — as we do — to understand different regional considerations.”

Quality social media listening enhances all the other research you’ve done to build your customer persona. It reveals barriers and assumptions you can feed into user attitude studies for further exploration. It complements your online reviews and the word on the shop floor. And it gives you clear examples of the language you need to use to connect with your audience.

2. Make connections

Quality storytelling can come from different places: A brand’s creative team, good community management, commissioned content, and more. Used imaginatively, user-generated content (UGC) can provide an authentic connection to the audience, even if it’s as simple as curating social media posts.

Perez refers to UGC as the clearest way of demonstrating the connection audiences have with a brand. She returns to EIGHTYDOTS’ work with a major automotive client to describe the layers of brand perception: “You’ll see how the corporate headquarters creates glossy, global, car-focused content. Then at a market level you have a more experiential approach, which is more conversational but still quite formal. But then there’s the content created by people who love their cars. That’s how they actually perceive the brand — and you have to take that into account when you develop storytelling.”

User-generated content shows how customers actually perceive the brand — and you have to take that into account when you develop storytelling.

One way to tap into that authenticity can be commissioning advocates — not always high profile creators but micro-influencers and superfans too — to co-create great content. And a well-constructed story is also an opportunity to explain any complexities about your product or service through a narrative that your audience understands, in a way that sounds like something they would say.

3. Be real

Consumers consistently rate brand trust as one of the most important considerations — more than reviews or even environmental impact. Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer found that German consumers are among the most wary of brands; where globally just a third of consumers trust the brands they buy from, in Germany it’s merely one in four. Yet expectations are higher than ever.

So if you’re using a consumer’s content, ask permission and give credit. If you’re working with influencers, offer payment or a fair value exchange. And when you’re talking about your brand, product, or service, do so transparently and consistently with your brand values and tone of voice.

Shaping your content strategy around the values of your customer isn’t just sensible; Perez considers it essential for future-proofing brands globally. And at Khoros, we agree. After all, we all love to be the life and soul of the party — but if all you do is grab the mic and talk about yourself, you’re eventually going to run out of listeners. Use your mic to talk about what matters to them, and you’ll have friends (and customers) for life.

To learn more about connecting with your audience on social media, download our whitepaper: Social Media Pocket Guide.

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