Commentary

The Search For Social Media Authenticity

Whether it is a brand, professional sports league or media company there is a perpetual challenge to be authentic while appealing to younger demographics. Call them Millennials. Call them Generation Z. Call them the iGeneration. It is critical for any entity distributing a product to form a connection with these users. How can this be accomplished without looking inauthentic on social media? Nobody wants to be the old guy at the party talking about SnapFace or InstantChat, unless you are Bill Belichick

Patient Decision Making 

When a new platform emerges, there is often an internal push to create an immediate presence on it, even at the cost of resources to other established platforms. How many social media managers were pressured to up their Google+ game at the cost of Facebook? Remember live streaming on Meerkat before Periscope and Facebook gobbled up the live streaming market? 

Flexibility and nimbleness are important but a degree of patience is valuable. There is nothing wrong with fact finding and experimentation on new platforms, but do not move away from your baseline of support on platforms that are not going away (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter). There is nothing authentic about being somewhere just for the sake of being there. 

Pick Your Spots

Every brand is different. Depending on your product, Pinterest may make sense for you, while Kik could be more logical for somebody else. Develop an understanding of what type of audience is drawn to each platform, no matter how new or antiquated it is. You should also avoid lazy stereotypes to justify not utilizing a platform. Things like “these days only people’s moms use Facebook, Snapchat is for sexting or Instagram is just for artsy pictures” are all inaccurate and weak excuses not to dig deeper into their potential value for your brand. 

If You Are Committing, Commit 

If you are committing to distribute content on a platform, then fully commit. Do not recycle what you are doing somewhere else or run a sparsely populated feed. You must offer a unique value and a platform-appropriate voice wherever you are distributing content. One way to look inauthentic is demonstrating a poor understanding of how a platform works or communicating in a way that will not make sense to users. 

The formatting and production of your content is included in this communication. Replicating a traditional television studio show to a Facebook Live stream is not taking advantage of the enormous, engaged audience on the platform. If people want to watch a studio show, they will watch TV. If they want a unique, first-person experience or outside the box social experiment, they will come to Facebook Live. Along those lines, It is also critical to remember the percentage of users watching your content on their mobile phones. Whatever you are shooting and distributing should be seen through that lens before going live. 

Content vs. Marketing 

Your social media platforms are not marketing hubs, they are content hubs. Young viewers do not want to be constantly prompted to view content in browsers outside the apps they have chosen to download. The platforms have all constructed themselves to keep viewers there, not to be utilized as arrows pointing viewers somewhere else. Make sure your content management teams are looking at it as a content channel, not strictly a marketing initiative. 

Participatory Over Passive

Finally, take advantage of the democratization of content. Everybody who has a phone is a digital creator and they know it. The more participatory your content is, the better. The goal should be building engaged, active fans, not passive viewers. Ask questions to your audience, interact with them and get them involved in creating user-generated content, which is regularly featured by your platforms.

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