How to build an authentic brand online

As the founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Menace Group, as well as an author, entrepreneur, startup investor and marketer I’m often asked how you can build an authentic brand online and whether showing personal content leaves you vulnerable.

Our audience almost always wants one thing above all else and that’s authenticity. They want to see and feel a connection with the real you. People trust other people. People do business with people. They want to know who you are, what you do, how you do it, why you do it. They want to hear your story.

Despite the vast array of digital platforms, I think as a society we’ve become a bit disconnected. We’re all looking for something raw and honest in a sea of often overly-curated content, that shows vulnerability and a human component.

If there is one thing you should master, it’s the ability to show who you are in an engaging and personality-driven way, through the content you share with your audience. This authenticity is what people connect with: your behind-the-scenes pictures on Instagram, the moments you share with friends and family on Facebook, the interactions you have with your customers, perhaps through your case studies or blog. People want to see the real you and feel like they know you.

When it comes to building an authentic brand online, there are a few things you can consider such as:
Have you clearly identified the vision and values for your business?

  • Look at your website and social channels. If you were a stranger seeing these for the first time, what is the immediate impression you take away? Perception is reality.
  • What are the things you admire in other businesses?
  • Who are the people you choose to buy from?
  • Assuming you have a clear idea of your target audience, what are their values, what do they want to read, see and hear?

A lot of the relationships that we develop aren’t just commercial, they are quite personal. People are letting us get into their businesses, we are working with people who have spent years building a business, building an empire and often it’s quite personal for them too.

A lot of private business owners want to know who they are dealing with. Let them know that you’ve got a personal life and you’re not just working 24/7. Show them that there’s more to you than just the commercial side of things. Much like when someone is employing you, they want to understand who you are – what drives you, how you look after yourself, create balance in your life and what you’re proudest of. Often businesses fall into the trap of believing that to appear “professional” through their digital channels, every post must be strictly business. Don’t start sharing cat memes – unless you’re selling cat food perhaps – but don’t be afraid to show your personality.

By sharing content on my social channels about things I enjoy and value, such as time spent with family at the beach or great food and wine, people can understand a bit about who I am as a person, as a human being. I want people to feel a certain level of comfort and a level of personality, familiarity and authenticity behind what I do and understand that these are the things that are valuable to me, because ultimately we do business with people who resonate with our own values.

It really is as simple as saying “hey, this is me. This is what I’m up to,” or “hey, look at the job I’ve just done for this person and how great they feel as a result.” Use the opportunity to also ask what your audience wants to see more of? Perhaps its responding to questions? Specific advice? Behind the scenes?

You can get creative with content and delivery, without having to be present and posting constantly on every social channel. Pick a couple of channels where your audience are present, and post when you have something valuable to share.

Some methods to consider:

  • Video
  • Image
  • Time-lapse video
  • Blog post
  • LinkedIn post
  • Email

Some messages/content to consider:

  • Work you’ve done for a client recently
  • How did you get started in your business?
  • What makes you tick? Why do you love what you do?
  • How do you spend your weekends?
  • What work have you been most proud of?
  • What are your unique views on your business?
  • What tips can you offer your audience

Keep it simple and be genuine. If you’re authentic about what you do, you’ll take your audience on that Journey with you. Think about why you started your business beyond paying the bills and start telling that story!

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