As a marketer, it’s hard to ignore what’s going on around you. Every day is an awareness day, then there’s the added pressure to weigh in on current issues – economic, political or otherwise. Yet, while there’s an argument for staying relevant and joining the conversation on hot topics such as mental health, Black Lives Matter and Pride, you need to tread carefully.
In this blog, we discuss why ensuring authenticity is vital when sharing topical content.
Why is authenticity important?
Consumers are more belief-driven than ever. Just as people buy from people, people also buy from brands that come across as authentic. By commenting on what’s going on in the world in a relevant, sensitive and timely way, you’ll build trust and rapport with your audience. It can even trigger authentic – and valuable – conversations.
Having said this, there’s a fine line between sounding authentic and sounding fake – or worse… tone deaf. Brands that are seen to be jumping on the bandwagon without genuine, positive drivers behind their words risk being called out.
A whole host of businesses faced embarrassment this International Women’s Day when the Gender Pay Gap Bot retweeted those who used the hashtag, revealing information on their gender pay gap. For the majority, women were paid less – sometimes quite substantially. It was built by freelancer Francesca Lawson and software developer Ali Fensome, with the aim of highlighting inauthenticity and encouraging organisations to take real action on their gender pay gaps.
Another example that comes up year after year is brands who wear a rainbow-coloured logo for Pride Month, then remove it the day after it ends, triggering various memes. It’s been argued that this is ‘performative’ – organisations are capitalising on the interest without actually taking action on the issue at hand.
So, does that mean you should stay silent on these issues to avoid coming across as disingenuous or opening yourself up to potential backlash? Not necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at when and how to jump on the bandwagon.
Discover your ‘why’
Before you post about anything topical – especially more sensitive issues – take a moment to identify your ‘why’. Consider the following:
Are you solving a problem?
Is what you’re sharing remotely helpful? If it’s in a completely irrelevant context – i.e. mentioning it randomly or even trying to leverage it in some way – then you’re going to come across as fake.
Dig deep and think about how you can solve the issue. For instance, many can help with the sustainability initiative – like Coke, who aim to make all their packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.
Are you educating yourself?
It might be that you can take steps to work on the problem internally – like if you’re educating your business about the topic. Make sure that if you share this, it’s genuine, and will make an impact on the company. Perhaps rather than saying you’re going to read about an issue, you could enrol team members (or yourself) in one of the many diversity and inclusion training programmes out there.
Are you donating to the cause?
A message of support for an issue can seem a bit futile if you’re not even donating to it, especially if it’s a cause that really needs the money. If it won’t benefit much in monetary terms, then can you post valuable insights or stories that add to the discussion around it?
Are you sharing accurate information?
Brands can make the mistake of sharing misinformation, which often derives from a lack of education. The reason behind this can be that they don’t have an authentic interest in the cause. If you genuinely want to help, take the time to research and get the content spot on.
Simon Sinek always said to start with ‘why’ – so it’s recommended you do this before you open your virtual mouth. This way, you can figure out your true motivations – and whether you’ll be adding value, or simply jumping on the bandwagon.
Sense check your content
It’s worth asking for a second opinion before you post about something topical, specifically from writers who are helping brands answer these questions day-in, day-out. Here at Making You Content, we can sense check your thinking, offer actionable ideas and help you tackle the issues that matter – with the right approach. Speak to us today.