Fake news abounds these days, and it’s both necessary and exhausting trying to determine what’s real. While you might be getting near the edge of your comfort zone over our current political climate, professionally speaking, you gotta get real and get to work. A common challenge in just about any line of business is how to best attract new audiences to your offerings without misrepresenting what you’re offering or sounding like a jerk.

As you plan crafting authentic messages about your biz, ask yourself:
-if my brand were a person, how would I describe them?
-how would this person behave at a cocktail party or networking event?
-is my brand voice warm, friendly, approachable and trustworthy?
-does my brand offer more value than just goods and services? If so, what are those additional assets?
-what are my target audiences most interested in? What do they value? Can my brand provide these things in addition to what we’re selling?

Answers to these questions will help you connect with your brand personality, providing insight into how to best represent your company both online and off.

Honesty is the best policy

Honesty builds trust. And, in the world of offering goods and services, this leads to loyalty from enthusiasts who want to be connected to your brand. But how can you rise above the noise to reach target audiences authentically? Once you know who and where they are, and what types of messages they are most likely to respond to, you’ll be better equipped to engage people in a deeper way.

Attracting audiences authentically

Brand enthusiasts are made when you treat your customers like insiders. Sure, being creative and bold in messages about your business attracts notice, but in order to cut through the chaos and inspire others, you’ve got to connect with your people in a real way.

Pro tips for writing (or tweeting) intentionally

– Be better, not louder
– Be friendly and conversational — write like you talk, but make sure it’s spelled correctly and grammatically well-written
– Ask questions to spark conversation
– Recognize people and respond directly
– Humor works wonders!
– Promote collaboration
– Deliver value at every turn

When you give people real reasons to engage with your brand by connecting, sharing and caring in tangible ways, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to gain fans.

For example, I recently saw a post about a remarkable fare sale on Icelandair, and tagged two pals interested in heading to Edinburgh via Reykjavik with me later this year. Within minutes of tagging, Icelandair responded to us in a super fun and welcoming way. This small but mighty gesture resulted in immediate goodwill for the company, and for the country (as if Iceland needs more props these days). Instant, easy connection leads to brand awareness and trust and (most assuredly) brand loyalty.

Missing the mark

When your brand communicates in a way that’s out of line with who your company is, how it operates, or what it delivers, it does more than sting — it can completely backfire, causing you to lose loyal customers or even put you out of business. We can immediately tell when a company uses language or images that don’t align with its core offerings or voice. It feels icky.

For example, one of my bigger clients called the morning after a terrorist attack in France wanting to “do what Amazon did” and change the header of its corporate website to an image of the French flag with the words “Vive La France” underneath. Never before had my client presented any messaging related to world affairs. Thus, doing so would not only NOT align with its brand personality or mission but could come across to audiences as being disingenuous. (Showing solidarity in this way didn’t make sense for their website, but could have become a thoughtful, sensitive tweet or blog post.) Undeterred, they got another designer to make the changes. That same day, multiple confused customers contacted the firm, wondering if they had relocated to Paris, had merged with a French firm or were acting disingenuously post-tragedy by attempting to garner more attention. All good intentions to connect in a trustworthy way missed the mark.

Accessing your authentic voice to remain brand consistent via social media is tricky business. Yet to do so successfully builds trust and community, inspires enthusiasts and gives people a reason to engage.

Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.
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