Content marketers like to spend time debating amongst themselves about how the content world is going to change and which trends are going to dictate the future of the industry (as well as which fads are going to die out). But even in this opinionated crowd, it’s relatively uncontroversial to describe authenticity as one of the most important factors for success when creating content moving forward.
If you want to have a successful content campaign in 2022 and the years that follow, it’s vital that you understand the importance of authenticity – and the right ways to integrate it into your campaign.
Content Oversaturation: A Review of the Problem
Since its inception, content marketing has been a viable and potentially valuable strategy for individuals and businesses of all varieties. Providing detailed, helpful content to your audience is a fast way to build trust, earn a better reputation, and ultimately win more sales and loyal customers.
Back in the day, content marketing was new and exciting. In the mid-2000s, as long as you wrote something decently interesting with enough depth and detail, you could count on an audience to find it valuable. These days, the content market is oversaturated – even with an optimistic analysis.
Partially because literally anyone can create content and partially because of the rising interest in content marketing, there are more blog posts, videos, podcasts, and other mediums of content than ever before. No matter which way you look on the internet, users are bombarded with more content than they could consume in 100 lifetimes.
This leads to some big problems for content creators.
- Visibility issues and direct competition. When consumers search for a topic and they find 10,000 videos on the subject, why would they choose to watch yours instead of anyone else’s? With so much direct competition, standing out is virtually impossible. Even if your content is amazing, it might never be explored in depth by audiences who have other options.
- Novelty limitations. By now, pretty much everything has been done. In an oversaturated market, it’s hard to do something truly new. When new platforms emerge, there’s usually a rush of businesses trying to expand their customer bases there – so it’s only a matter of time before the new platforms are oversaturated as well.
- Decline in trust. Being inauthentic can make people inherently less trusting – or make them feel alienated from the brand, thus reducing your content’s effectiveness significantly.
Why Authenticity Is Important
Why is authenticity important? How can it break you out of this unfortunately saturated market?
- Differentiation. When you started your business, you probably came up with a list of differentiating factors – the distinguishing characteristics that make your business different than the businesses of your competitors. You knew it was important to do something different than your competitors if you wanted to stand out and appeal to a different market segment. For example, you might have offered better customer service or lower prices than one of your competing businesses. In the content world, differentiation is also important period if you’re just repeating the same things that everyone else is saying or using the same formats that they’re already using, you’re not going to get anywhere. Being authentic in an inauthentic market could be exactly what you need to stand out.
- Trust and bonding. Authenticity also encourages more trust in your audience. People can generally tell if you’re faking your personality or if you’re sincere in your approach. If you adopt a polished, professional, and stuffy demeanor, but you don’t really feel it internally, people will be able to tell. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but they won’t feel very close to you and they won’t feel like they can trust you. On the other hand, if you’re totally authentic and sincere about what you’re saying, they may come to trust you implicitly.
- Relatability and loyalty. Being authentic also makes you more relatable and more likeable. You may alienate a fraction of your readers or viewers if you have a personality type that is incompatible with them, but the people who stick with you will always appreciate your sincerity. This leads to much higher audience loyalty and better chances of growing your audience over time.
How to Be More Authentic in Content Marketing
What steps can you take to be more authentic in your own content marketing?
That’s a tricky question, because if you try too hard to be authentic, you might end up looking inauthentic. But these tips can help:
- Be yourself. Don’t think too hard about it. Just be yourself, even if you’re not confident that your personality or interests are a good fit for this niche. Maybe you have an abrasive personality what are you afraid of looking vulnerable; that’s okay, but you can find comfort knowing that authenticity is enough for many people. Let your personality shine through in whatever content you’re writing or creating.
- Inject more humor. A hallmark sign of sincerity and relatability is humor. If you inject more humor into your content, people will naturally find you to be more approachable, and for lack of a better word, more “human.” That doesn’t mean you should look up funny jokes beforehand and read them on screen; to be effective, your humor must come naturally. If you don’t consider yourself to be a naturally funny person, don’t worry – this isn’t mandatory. But it can help you loosen up and acquire a better connection to your audience.
- Allow more mistakes and imperfections. Don’t over-polish yourself. Before getting on screen, many video creators spend an agonizing amount of time putting on makeup, getting their hair perfect, and smoothing out every possible detail about their appearance. This can actually have a detrimental effect on your appearance of authenticity. Having a few hairs out of order or even stumbling over a word or two can make you seem more real and therefore more relatable.
- Lean into controversy. When possible, lean into controversy. Some content marketers avoid controversy entirely, choosing to focus on things that everyone can agree with. But this makes you seem inauthentic and overly generic. Instead, it’s often better to risk alienating a small percentage of your readership for the sake of taking a strong, opinionated stance. Of course, this isn’t always possible. If you’re writing on behalf of a nonprofit organization, for example, You may be restricted on what you can and can’t say. Use your best judgement and offer your strong opinions when you can.
- Keep it casual. Even if your brand derives power from its authority or prestige, in your content, you should strive to be more casual. Conversational tones, laid-back personalities, and to an extent, improvisation, all register as more authentic than the alternatives.
- Avoid cliches and formulas. It’s a good idea to scope out the competition and mimic some of the tactics that helped them become successful. But it’s easy to take this too far; avoid cliches and formulas if you want to remain original and be seen as authentic.
- Don’t be too sneaky or salesy with CTAs. Calls to action (CTAs) are important if you want to earn more sales and make your content efforts worth it – but you shouldn’t push them too hard if you want to be seen as authentic. Sneaking CTAs in where they don’t belong or being too salesy with them can work against you.
- Recruit other voices. You don’t have to be authentic all by yourself. In fact, it’s better if you recruit some other voices for your blog and your other content publication channels. Get lots of guest publishers on your blog – and be sure to host interviews with other authorities of topics related to your brand.
Authenticity is hard to replicate. It’s hard to mimic too. It’s not hard to include more authenticity in your content if you’re willing to be yourself, or at least work with people who are willing to be themselves. With more authenticity in your content, you’ll have a much better chance of standing out, and a much higher likelihood of achieving your long-term business goals.