Authenticity still matters in B2B social media marketing

When it comes to business use of social media there are two types of players: organisations and individuals. Organisations and individuals should both approach social media as authentically as possible. While I’m aware the word “authenticity” has been thrown around a great deal by social media experts, almost to the point where it has lost all meaning, the truth is authenticity matters.

Authenticity for organisations

How this is achieved is different for every brand but the starting point must be this: the social media “persona” of the brand must be aligned with the actual customer/client experience. If you make a point of talking about your awesome after-sales care team but the reality is your after-sales care team is lame, you’re not being authentic. Also, when people speak of authenticity on social media, it is sometimes spoken about as if it were the same as being transparent but transparency and authenticity are not synonyms. You needn’t be telling people you don’t actually care about after-sales care… if that is true then simply don’t mention it.

To achieve authenticity in B2B social media communications I believe the best thing organisations can do is to stick to what they know. By speaking with authority on the topics that they understand, B2B companies can be authentic while avoiding the edgerank chasing engagement tactics so well documented by Condescending Corporate Brand Page. Be active on the networks that make sense for the organisation – LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, forums, Quora, StumbleUpon and the company blog, for instance – and avoid wasting time and energy on networks that don’t make sense for telling the story of the business to the people who are interested in it.

Authenticity for individuals

The primary reason for writing this post was a LinkedIn profile that I came across this week. Rarely have I been so intrigued by a LinkedIn profile that, in my opinion at least, hit the authenticity note right on the button. It was from someone in the rail industry and their whole profile was filled with what were clearly references to work completed but told in a very humorous and somewhat flippant way. Upon reading the profile I was looking forward to meeting the guy; clearly this was someone who knew his stuff but was down-to-earth and was going to be approachable. I felt as if I had gained a genuine insight into the man.

Being authentic on social media doesn’t mean saying every damn thing that comes into your head but nor does it require you to be bland, vanilla and on-the-fence getting splinters. It means showing off something more about yourself and allowing people to see whether they could work with you. In my experience, most people in real life are decent individuals and when they are prepared to express themselves honestly (this may even include being controversial) on social media, conversations tend to be more interesting, more engaging and ultimately more authentic.

Be warned though: Being yourself on social media doesn’t always end well. (Warning: Contains strong language!)

 By Martin Broadhurst

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