These days, there’s a lot of talk about authentic content. The consensus is that it’s good and that content marketers should focus on it. But what is authentic content and why should it matter to you?
Why Authentic Content
Authentic content aims to create a dialog between your brand and your audience. To build a community even. It’s not so much about goals as about connections. Brands who use authentic content know that today, pushing for a sale isn’t effective, and that a follower who isn’t also a customer can be valuable.
Authentic content is genuine, useful, and original. It’s something that readers can’t find anywhere else. That doesn’t mean that it has to be based on original research, though.
A blog post or an article can be authentic even if you picked it up from another source. What matters is the interpretation you give it, and how you relate that to your audience. Jean-Luc Godard once said that what matters is not where you take things from, but where you take them to.
Authentic means personal. It’s easier to create authentic content when you talk to your fans and followers directly. When you engage the reader, your content is authentic.
Authentic is also about being transparent. Sometimes that means showing your more vulnerable side, the struggles and the challenges that you are facing or that you had to overcome. There’s power in vulnerability, as Brene Brown beautifully explained in her TEDx Talk.
This is true not only of people but also of brands. Customers today prefer brands who are humane. And as we all know, being human means screwing things up from time to time.
So, how can you make your content more authentic?
- Involve your employees in the content creation process and encourage them to share their experiences.
- Focus on mediums that are perceived as more authentic, i.e. social media and blogs rather than advertising.
- Bring user-generated content into the spotlight on social media.
- Take customer stories and case studies from your Testimonials page and feature them on your blog and social media pages.
- Generate content in real time using web streaming, live videos, or Twitter.
- Create video content that talks directly to your audience. It can be entertaining, humorous, or informational.
- Take your audience behind the scenes to show them how your organization works.
- Make your content personal and emotional, rather than simply factual.
- Do your own research and create your own content, instead of rewriting it from other sources.
- Create content that elicits responses from your audience. Use emotional content to generate positive responses.
- Host social media contests for your fans that invite their participation. Make everything more engaging by asking them to take photos of record videos.
Website Content Writing Tips
Your website determines to a large extent how your audience perceives your company. Before you create authentic content for your blog or social media pages, you have to make sure your website sends the right message.
It can be disappointing for someone to land on your site all excited about your social media contests only to find that your site is full of colorless articles about how awesome your products are.
Making your website content authentic isn’t so hard. It’s more a question of making sure you don’t do certain things:
- Don’t focus too much on promotions and special offers.
- Don’t make your About page dull or unfriendly.
- Don’t feature too many calls to action or buy buttons.
- Don’t use a corporate or formal tone, not even if you are selling funeral urns.
- Don’t address readers, customers, or consumers as abstract entities. Talk to them directly.
How to Write Great Blog Posts That Engage Readers
Your blog is a great medium for sharing authentic content. It works with all content formats and doesn’t impose on you content limitations like some social networks do. Your blog can be the centerpiece of your authentic marketing strategy.
You probably know how to write good content for your blog already. But is your content authentic? Here are some tips that may help you further refine your content.
- Let your topics evolve from your audience’s concerns. Don’t serve them what you think they may be interested in, but create your posts around what you know they need.
- Encourage comments and discussions. Do this through the topics you choose. At the end of the post, ask your audience a relevant question. Once the first comments come in, follow them up with other questions. This way you’ll keep the conversation going.
- Ask followers to create posts for you. Give an authentic spin to your guest blogging strategy by featuring your own customers and followers as authors. Message the more engaged members of your audience and invite them to create posts.
- Follow the trends. Authentic content isn’t linear. It can arise spontaneously as a reaction to a trend or news. If all your content is scheduled in advance, authenticity may suffer. While you should have a content strategy in place, it needs to be flexible enough to allow for spontaneous content.
Does Creating Authentic Content Mean That You Have to Create All Your Content Yourself?
No. When it comes to authentic content, what really matters is the intent. When a company decides to create authentic content, it can lay out the rules and use article writing services. For small companies, this may be the only way to a healthy content strategy.
Working with a content creator may actually make your content more authentic. When you write your own content, there’s always the temptation to make everything about yourself. To always take your company and its products or services as the starting point. Article writing services can provide a bit more objectivity.
Outsourcing your content gives you the opportunity to stop for a moment and take a better look at your audience. To understand who they are and what they want. In their needs, you’ll find the reflected objectives of your own company.
Authentic content ultimately creates a dialog with your audience. It’s not a sales pitch, but a coming together of people who share the same interests.