Inauthentic social media habits that hurt your brand

Can social media ever be authentic?

Probably not.

But there’s a big push to make your social media more honest/transparent. People are tired of seeing moments that aren’t quite as real as your Instagram feed would like you to think they are.

Take, for example, that friend who posts nothing but brag-worthy photos of a seemingly perfect life. Every selfie angle is carefully planned. The lighting is always just right. And, hey, wasn’t there a zit on the left cheek just yesterday?


No one’s life is that perfect.

Your brand may not be Kim Kardashian-style influencing, but this sentiment rings true across a variety of businesses and industries. Today’s audience wants to know what goes on “behind the curtain” — truly organic, grassroots peeks at your life. People are tired of being sold to, especially on social platforms ostensibly designed to capture real life.

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The social posts that will kill your business 

Just as savvy consumers instinctively ignores pay per click search engine ads or non-targeted social media ads, they can spot a fake moment faster than you can say, “Cheese.” People are looking for a connection, or a reason to choose your business over everyone else’s. So showing a bit of “authenticity” can help avoid annoying your audience with tired-old, cliched advertising posts that saturate social media.

You know the posts:

  • The ones that sound like a robot wrote them (Thanks to automated social bots).
  • The constant calls to action (Buy now! Sign up here! Click here!).
  • The #never #ending #hashtags.
  • The “here for it”, “on fleek” — completely failed attempts at using slang — or “millennial speak.
  • The “it’s clearly a model/staged photo but we’re going to pretend it’s authentic.”

So what’s the solution?

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Build trust with your audience, not shallow moments

It’s simple. Be yourself.

Instead of focusing on the latest trends, strive for building trust with your audience. If you can find a way to work in a trend without sounding fake, go for it. But don’t force it.

Embrace the inbound methodology — an approach to doing business in a human and helpful way. Inbound businesses use the methodology to build trust, credibility, and momentum. It’s about adding value at every stage in your customer’s journey with you.

Dare to be you

If you find your social media is missing a heartbeat, go back to the basics.

Why did you go into business in the first place? What is your passion? What is your cause?

Show people your creative process.

If you’re a marketer, post a photo of your work space. Is it a little bit of a mess? That’s fine. Your friends and followers want to see how you work.

Do you make a product? Go “behind the scenes” and show them how it’s done.

Run a store? Snap a photo or short video of the before/after hours.

If you aren’t showing how your business operates or what your process is like, today’s media hungry audience will wonder what you’re hiding!

Don’t be afraid to post unedited photos.

Not every photo or video has to be perfect all the time. What’s even better than posting a photo without editing? Post it in real-time — or a Facebook Live video. When your audience sees something that isn’t staged or heavily edited, they begin to trust your brand because they are witnessing honesty and transparency.

Seek out user-generated content.

People are bored of social media feeds filled with professionally shot and edited photographs of products, clothing and people. They want to see how what you’re selling is being used by real people.

Seek out these photos (and share them with proper credits). Let consumers see that your brand is useful in real life. And while influencers continue to dominate emerging marketing trends, today’s audience can see through them. If you hire influencers, encourage them to stay as true to themselves as possible — it’s better to ask them to post as they’re naturally using the product.

Skip the constant calls to action.

The goal of social media marketing is to generate qualified leads, to sell products or to boost brand awareness. However, salesy messages do not have to be constant. Take a break from calls to action and focus on other content — not every post has to be just about your product/brand.

Own up to your mistakes.

Don’t pretend a business error or mishap didn’t happen. Social media blunders happen to everyone — so don’t sweat it. Let your followers know that you know you messed up, and if it’s serious, show them how you’ll avoid it in the future.

What if it’s not so serious? Well, it’s OK to laugh at yourself, too.

Knock it off with the clickbait.

Obnoxious headlines and provocative images meant to entice a user to check out your content might increase your click through rate. But it will also increase their level of aggregation — positioning your business as yet another brand that doesn’t care about the audience.

Quit trying to be cool.

If your brand already has the language down, sure, go for it. But don’t suddenly start “acting cool” to reach your younger audience.

You know what we mean. Slipping in cringe-worthy phrases such as “on fleek,” “keeping it 100,” or “bae” into your posts isn’t going to get people to like your brand. Instead, they will likely mock you.

Another note: Don’t use hashtags or emojis if they don’t come naturally to you or if you don’t understand their meaning. The easiest way to annoy a millennial (or the rest of the world for that matter) is to slip a gazillion of unrelated emojis and hashtags into a post.
You’re not fooling anyone.

The easiest way to stay authentic on social media is just be yourself — stay on brand. Do what you — or your business — already does best, and quit trying so hard to fit in.

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