In today's age of authenticity, the way that brands show up on social media is more crucial than ever. As audiences increasingly prioritize genuine interactions and transparent communication, it can be the difference between the success and failure of a social strategy. Many platforms are adapting their features to mimic a BeReal world, and brands are expected to be agile and responsive to stay relevant. A study by Stackla found that 88% of consumers consider authenticity important when deciding which brands to support. Furthermore, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 61% of consumers said that trusting a brand is a top purchasing consideration, highlighting the importance of brand authenticity in driving consumer decisions.
To successfully navigate this evolving landscape, brands ought to focus on developing an authentic voice, fostering genuine connections, and showcasing their unique values. By prioritizing transparency, credibility, and relatability, brands can build strong bonds with their audiences and solidify their presence in the current social environment.
A brand's authenticity refers to its perception as genuine, honest, and true to its core values and identity. It encompasses how a brand communicates and engages with its target audience, stakeholders, and the wider community. Authentic brands consistently align their actions with their stated values, build transparent relationships with their audience and are open about their intentions and practices. Meanwhile, brands that claim to adhere to specific values but then act contrary to them are often considered inauthentic by consumers today, who are not shy to point this out.
In today's competitive market, brand authenticity plays a crucial role in driving long-term growth, and consumers are increasingly seeking relatable and purpose-driven brands. By demonstrating this, marketers can create meaningful connections with their audience, differentiate themselves from competitors and cultivate a positive reputation that resonates with consumers' expectations and values.
As we live in an increasingly interconnected world, social media has become a vital communication bridge between consumers and brands. It offers unparalleled opportunities for brands beyond merely promoting their products and services, allowing them to express their true identity and core values. By embracing this dynamic medium, marketers can establish genuine connections and trust with their audiences, effectively transforming their social media presence into a platform for rich interactions and long-lasting relationships.
To put the opportunity in perspective, Statista calculated that social commerce generated 724 billion U.S. dollars in revenue worldwide in 2022. With an expected compound annual growth rate of 30.8 percent from 2022 to 2030, it is forecast that revenues in this segment will reach approximately 6.2 trillion.
Thus, authenticity in marketing is imperative for social strategies as it plays a significant role in establishing trustworthiness. By maintaining consistency between values, messaging and actions, a brand solidifies its credibility in the eyes of consumers, and this credibility can, in turn, positively influence consumer perceptions and purchase decisions. Lastly, authentic content on social media naturally resonates with users, leading to increased engagement rates and maximizing social media's effectiveness.
The following tactics can help brands build social media authenticity:
After its release in 2020, BeReal began to gain popularity in early 2022 and now has 73.5 million active monthly users. The platform promotes authenticity and unfiltered content and prompts users to take random pictures daily, one of their environment and one of themselves, using both the front and back cameras. Users cannot choose when the app sends the prompt, ensuring the captured moments are candid and genuine. These spontaneous snapshots are then shared with the user's friends on the app.
Unsurprisingly, BeReal's focus on authenticity has inspired other social media platforms to evolve and incorporate features that promote genuine and unfiltered content.
Instagram announced in December 2022 that it was testing a new feature called Candid Stories. Like BeReal, it prompts users to share candid moments, which will then only be visible to those who also share their own. As Instagram is known for its highly curated and filtered aesthetic, this feature could offer brands and creators an opportunity to be more transparent and authentic on the platform.
In September 2022, TikTok introduced a new feature called TikTok Now. Just as with BeReal, users are reminded to record 10-second videos or take static photos within a given timeframe. Although we don't know how many of its users regularly use the feature, it's certainly a fitting addition to the app, which brands often turn to in order to create authentic and entertaining content that consumers find relatable.
Earlier this year, Meta developers revealed that they were testing a new feature for Facebook Messenger called Roll Call, which asks group chat members to send photos via their front and back cameras. Using Roll Call, users can create custom prompts and send these to their group chat, after which members have five minutes to respond. As with BeReal, only people who share their Roll Call can see others and even delete responses. Since this is still being tested internally, it is unclear if and when this feature will be made public.
The importance of authentic social media engagement, as well as connecting with audiences in a transparent and relatable manner, has been understood by many brands. Here are a few examples of authentic content on social:
Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty was founded with a mission to de-stigmatize mental health and celebrate individuality by redefining what “beautiful” means. To take advantage of the authentic, storytelling nature of TikTok, Rare Beauty highlights Selena’s personality and those of creators who love and genuinely use its cosmetics. By looking beyond celebrities and high-profile influencers and working with some relatable creators for its target audience, the brand found that 98% of its total campaign conversions were driven by creator content.
The outdoor clothing and gear company is renowned for its environmental and social responsibility commitment. Patagonia's social media presence revolves around its values, sharing stories of activism, sustainable practices, and outdoor adventures. The brand also frequently shares stories, articles, and documentaries related to these topics, encouraging followers to take action and participate in the conversation.
Additionally, Patagonia places storytelling at the heart of its social media presence by frequently including stories from its community of outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, and activists. Sharing these authentic experiences creates a sense of connection and inspires followers to embrace outdoor adventures while being mindful of the environment.
Founded by Shay Mitchell in 2018, BÉIS was established to create travel bags and accessories within an affordable luxury price point. The brand focuses on tracking its engagement and providing value to its audience through entertaining and informative content reflecting its voice and personality. It understands that users are looking for relatable posts, and to meet this need, the team creates humorous and authentic content that connects with them. This approach has led to outperforming the retail industry on the Entertainment Score by 44% on TikTok and 71% on Instagram — demonstrating that showing up as your authentic self on social media can lead to more engagement.
The importance of authenticity on social media cannot be overstated for brands who wish to stay relevant and connect with their audiences more meaningfully. By leveraging sentiment analysis features, brands can truly harness authentic community insights to improve their social media strategies and overall customer experience.
The Community feature of Dash Hudson now includes a social media sentiment analysis tool that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP) to identify and rank the emotions, opinions, and attitudes expressed in comments on posts. The sentiment of each comment is then categorized as positive, negative, or neutral. Using this feature, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of what followers like and dislike and whether a shift in strategy is needed.
Authenticity is important for branding as it establishes trust and credibility with audiences. Today's consumers can easily detect when a brand is not being authentic, and they value genuine experiences and engage with brands whose values and beliefs align with their own. Therefore, authenticity is crucial for branding as it helps to establish a positive and enduring relationship with customers.
Patagonia is a great example of an authentic brand, since its social media presence revolves around its values, sharing stories of activism, sustainable practices, and outdoor adventures. The brand also frequently shares stories, articles, and documentaries related to these topics, encouraging audiences to take action and participate in the conversation.
A study by Stackla found that 88% of consumers consider authenticity important when deciding which brands to support. This highlights the importance of brand authenticity in driving consumer decisions and puts this opportunity in perspective, Statista calculated that social commerce generated 724 billion U.S. dollars in revenue worldwide in 2022. As a result, marketers have a huge opportunity to showcase their brands as authentic and relatable on social media, which is what consumers are looking for, and which can also yield great results.