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“Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not ‘being who you are.’ It’s not, ‘say whatever is on your mind,’ either. Instead, I define it as, ‘consistent emotional labor.’”
– Seth Godin
Authenticity has become a buzzword in modern social media marketing, and for good reason. The marketing culture we are moving out of was nothing short of coercive, dishonest, and unfortunately gave businesspeople a bad name. But now we’ve effectively redefined marketing and sales, squashed the sleazy sales tactics, and forged a new foundation on authenticity (at least most marketers have).
Ironically, authenticity has become an overused term that is almost beginning to sound tiresome and fake. Does this mean that authenticity and honesty in marketing are wrong? Of course not. It simply means that we’ve milked this concept for all it’s worth. We’ve revolutionized the way businesses market and brand themselves, and “authenticity” has sufficiently done its job.
In a post-authenticity world, what comes next?
Today’s entrepreneurs and marketers have become eloquent storytellers, creative designers, and down-to-earth communicators. Speaking truth is what helps a brand form an identity and attract customers who like what they have to say. But there’s more to it than plain old truth. To stand out in a sea of authentic communicators, what else can brands do in 2019?
Unearthing what has been glossed over
Paradigm-shifting content is what’s next. This is not to say that brands should be trying to shock people just for the sake of it. But rather, finding new avenues to explore and addressing topics that tend to get swept under the rug. As brands continue learning and modeling themselves after famous disruptive startups, paradigm-shifting content will become the norm.
Earn your audience’s respect by creating content that is:
As we said, we know that brand transparency is important for building a loyal following. But authenticity alone has become somewhat bland and mainstream. All brands are claiming to be authentic nowadays (even the ones that aren’t!). Truth is a critical element for building a relationship with your audience. But what’s the critical second element if you’ve already mastered this?
Ask yourself this question: Is this content a paradigm-shifter? And if so, is it still scarce?
If your truth is scarce, it’s because it hasn’t been accepted or recognized by mainstream culture yet. Or maybe it’s something people have been avoiding because it’s challenging. Otherwise, it would just be a plain old truth (something lots of people are probably already talking about).
What truly magnetizes potential customers to your brand and sets you up for sustainability is a scarce truth. Something that will not only help your audience feel better or improve some aspect of their lives, but something that will permanently change an aspect of their lives. For example, their worldview or their daily routine. This is how brands garner coveted labels like “disruptive,” “innovative” and “thought leader.”
This is the final element that truly solidifies brand loyalty. People are familiar enough with your content that they can verify it. For example, “Yes, I relate” or “Yes, I’ve seen that happen before.” They are relieved to finally hear someone talking about this topic because it is scarcely addressed, but they are familiar enough with it to verify it. This key factor ensures that your content is not too obscure to gain traction. Creating this type of content on a consistent basis gives a brand unshakable credibility.
The post-authenticity formula for content marketing success is this: true + scarce + verifiable = traction
If you’ve yet to understand how this applies to your industry or to your particular business, consider what ideas relevant to your business are rarely discussed or even acknowledged. Are there any that you happen to know a lot about? In most cases, this will require a degree of vulnerability. For example, people will wonder how you know so much about x, y, and z. You then have to share that with your audience.
If an idea is true, scarce and verifiable, consider how it can set your audience free. How can it be framed to their benefit? If “the truth will set you free,” then what information does your audience need to hear? Why do they need to engage with this information and learn it from you?
Answering these questions will inform your content strategy going forward.