How to Embrace Authenticity in Your Small Business

Author: Gina Hall | January 20, 2016

If you’ve been in business for the last five years, then surely you’ve heard the buzzword “authenticity.”

Authenticity means something different for everyone, making it hard to define. In essence, it’s a business strategy as unique as you are. Building an authentic brand basically makes your company an extension of you. Here are five tips that can help you use it to get noticed in your industry.

Pick your platform
Pick one or two social media platforms where you can promote your company and reach your audience without having to go too far off message. Does your company move quickly and need to update current and potential clients quickly? Consider a real-time platform like Twitter. Want to take a multimedia approach? Facebook is great at highlighting photos, video and text. Only want to do a progress update to clients once a month? An email newsletter may be more your speed.

Don’t worry about the latest social media fad unless it truly fits with your brand’s overall strategy. Part of authenticity means that you don’t force yourself on an audience. Are your clients older? Then don’t bother with Snapchat. Are your customers primarily male? Then don’t try to reach them on the female-driven Pinterest platform.

Embrace online reviews
What do you do when you’re considering a new restaurant? Look at the Yelp reviews, of course. Ask yourself where your potential clients go to get the lowdown on your company. Figure that out and encourage satisfied clients to visit the site to leave an online review.

A genuinely positive review, meaning one that wasn’t written by you or your public relations firm, goes a long way toward building trust with your customers.

Empower your employees
There’s nothing more authentic than enthusiasm. Encourage your employees to promote your company on their online channels, but don’t force them. Enthusiasm only works if it sounds natural, and potential clients can tell the difference.

But if your staff is keen on the idea, supply them with approved photos, video or other promotional materials you don’t mind floating out on social media. Empower them to answer questions about the company and to field customer feedback. Not only will you get the message out to new clients, authorizing employees to act as company ambassadors can improve office morale.

Admit when you’re wrong
There’s nothing phonier than perfection. Don’t even try to fake it. You don’t need to broadcast every small mistake you make, but definitely own up to errors that affect your clients. While you don’t want to be known for shoddy work, everyone knows that mistakes are human and owning up to them will make you seem genuinely concerned with correcting the problem.

Associate with a social cause
Is there a nonprofit or movement that means a lot to you and is a natural fit with your brand? Promote it in conjunction with your business. Your charitable work is often an extension of what you stand for and your passion will ooze authenticity.

While you don’t want to push charitable causes too hard, make sure your clients know you’re giving back, and they’ll feel better about doing business with you.

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