Last week we had an extensive discussion during #SEMrushchat about strategies for authentic content. There is a newer phrase called "Authentic Content Marketing" being used to help people differentiate between relationship-building based content and traditional content marketing. The goal of authentic content is to reach specific audiences, provide answers/solutions, create trust, and build relationships instead of creating content for sales or lead gen purposes.
We all know authenticity has always made a brand stand out from their competitors, and if done right, creates trust and makes one memorable. And yet, too often brands either don't know how to be authentic OR are following traditional sales strategies that in today's world are pushing buyers away.
Keep reading to see the advice given from marketing experts that joined the chat, and share yours in the comments below.
Why do brands need authentic content marketing?
MarCommRodin - "Inauthentic content is boring, it's like being lectured at. Authentic content should be more of a conversation, it speaks to a question you actually asked."
Amy Middleton - "Authenticity is oxygen to seekers of real info. No one wants to read the poorly-researched keyword-rich SEO post to help with rankings. People want meaning and answers."
JP Sherman - "Humans are more emotional than rational than we'd like to think we are - authentic content is a way to connect with humans on an emotional & rational level."
The Karcher Group - "Audiences can spot inauthenticity a mile away. They aren't buying into brands anymore. They're choosing to buy into the people behind the brand and the values they portray. You have to be authentic to really make that connection with an audience."
Will Sagraves - "Authentic marketing means being unique and relevant to your audience. It means staying away from the buzzwords and stock images, just be yourself and your audience will find you."
7marketz Inc - "Authenticity is what transforms you from a name into a brand. It showcases character and reflects your mission. It also shows your audience that you know them and you're listening to them rather than talking at them or being overly promotional."
Lead Forensics - "You need to show you are real, not a corporate business that just churns out post after post, that is completely irrelevant. Be authentic and show who your brand is, and help solve the problems your audience faces, they'll trust you. Buy from you."
What's the difference between traditional content and authentic content?
Webeo Global - "Traditional content tries to push individuals into a funnel. Authentic marketing thinks more about the concerns of the prospect, sees what they need and caters to it, not trying to shove them into the wrong funnel."
JP Sherman - "*sweeping generalization time!* I see traditional content as attempting to elicit a behavior I see authentic content as attempting to elicit an emotion that can facilitate an action (not in all cases of course)."
Optimisey - "Personally I dislike using these terms. 'Traditional' implies old and outdated. 'Authentic', to me, implies marketers trying to fake authenticity. You shouldn't fake it. BE authentic. If you can't, hire someone who is or collaborate with them."
Marianne Sweeny - "Traditional content is what the brand wants customers to want. Authentic content looks to customer queries aligned with a brand-specific taxonomy that includes customer journey and content type, to create content that meets customer needs straight on."
Ryan Jones - "If you were doing it right to begin with, there's zero difference."
Melissa Fach - "Authentic content marketing is all about reaching your target audience at a deeper level. While this is a new term being used, it really is just smart marketing aimed at truly reaching a specific audience, gaining their trust, and deserving their trust."
What are the essential steps to make your own content marketing more authentic?
Mark Gustafson - "THIS MIGHT BE CONTROVERSIAL… But I think a lot of founders/employees see themselves ABOVE their audience. It’s a difficult place to be in as a business when you have such an awful view of your potential customers. Be one of them. Be friends. Be useful."
The Karcher Group - "I have a personal checklist I ask myself before I write content: Is it purposeful? Is it relatable? Does it showcase the company values and voice? Is it honest and true to how we feel on the topic?"
Alexis Katherine - "Forget what you want to say and answer your audiences’ questions. Forget your favorite format and use what they prefer. Forget your favorite channel and meet them where they are."
Amanda Milligan - "Take a beat and focus on your brand's objectives. Who are you trying to help and why? Are you up-to-date on the wants and needs of your target audience? If not, get to researching and addressing those challenges. It's about them, not you."
BaerPM - "Learn what drives your audience, what are they looking for? Try to give meaning to your brand's voice, something that consumers can relate to and support. But overall, be original, be yourself and engage with your audience."
Bridget @ G2 - "Understand the search intent to truly help your readers. If you always answer the right questions the first time, it creates a foundation of trust."
What marketing practices ruin the authenticity of the brand?
Itamar Blauer - "Trying to fit in with all the trends. If it's irrelevant to your business, you don't need to create content just because the topic is hot. You'll end up devaluing your brand and it seems awfully spammy!"
Kat Hammoud - "Poor execution! Do you have a content response strategy? Do you have someone writing boring or irrelevant content? Don't pepper your content with selling pitches or buzzwords. Keep it valuable, stay on message, & stay professional without hard selling."
Chris Thames - "DMing products or services, too many popups on the website, cold calling, having multiple people from the same company message you about the same thing, not making a proper introduction, not taking the time to customize the experience, terrible design."
James Leisy - "Ugh, there are so many ways to come off as unauthentic... blatantly going against values, too many salesy/promotional communications, deleting comments/reviews instead of interacting and trying to fix, etc..."
Stevie Howard - "Trying to be trendy is a huge one. We've seen this back fire so many times. Putting in little features or jokes is one thing, but focusing on a public event or sensitive content just because people are talking about it is not okay."
ThinkSEM - "Nothing worse than spray-and-pray -- trying to be everything to everyone. YUCK."
Can you name some well-known brands to learn authenticity from? Why did you choose them?
Melissa Fach - "@Zappos is a great example. Their core values are clearly stated here https://www.zapposinsights.com/about/core-values. Their advertising, content, social, & customer service are all authentic & focused on what is best for their customers. And they are trusted by millions."
Ben Austin - "@Dove! They continuously align their marketing efforts with the brand's mission statement and have been able to change public perception at the same time!"
Lauren @ G2 - "I swear, you'd think I worked for them by how often I mention them, but @patagonia. They invest revenue into protecting the environment and it makes sense for them. They're an outdoor clothing brand and it's something their consumers care about. A perfect match."
Frogplum Solutions - "@BurtsBees is one of the most authentic brands we can name. Their biggest promise is to take action + help repopulate bees and they hold true to this. They continually focus on being all-natural, and this comes through in both their products + social media ."
Bridget @ G2 - "While there have been mixed reactions, I'm a @Nike stan. They just released a plus line that encourages inclusivity in an industry that is notorious for just the opposite."
Vraj Shah - "1> @CMIContent - Presenting Unique Content. 2> @HubSpot - Just HUB. 3>@Crowdfire, @quuu_co, @buffer - Curation makes better. 4> @hootsuite - Consistancy. 5> @facebook, @instagram, @Pinterest - trends. 6> @Twitter - For trends & news. 7 >@semrush - For everything."
As you can see from the fantastic comments above, authentic content marketing is a necessity if you hope to survive in modern-day marketing. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
A Huge Thank You to All of Those That Participated
Every week, the SEMrush team is in awe of your participation and marketing knowledge. I have been joining in to watch the SEMrushchats looking for great minds and tweets that will offer expert-level insights to our blog readers.
Please keep sharing your strategies and opinions, and keep an eye on our best tweet posts to see if you are included. Join us every Wednesday at 11 am ET/4 pm BST for #SEMrushchat on Twitter and gain insights from some of the best marketers in the industry.
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