Earlier this week I read this fantastic blog by Stephen Waddington on how easy it is to fake social media followers and engagement. It’s a very prominent topic at the moment with influencer marketing increasingly under scrutiny, and it’s something I feel very strongly about. From the very first moment I used social media, the thing I loved about it was how I could connect with real people that I would otherwise be unable to connect with – that’s something very special in my view.

For brands, it can pose a challenge. You want to come across as professional, but not robotic. You want to be friendly, but slang words may not be listed anywhere in your brand guidelines. There’s also a risk in having a real person behind the wheel, as demonstrated by the Virgin Trains customer service blunder last week.

What’s the solution to this problem? How do you protect your brand whilst also being authentic? How do you know your social media activity is working? I agree with Stephen Waddington, that it’s about measuring tangible outcomes rather than numbers.

“Social networks are based on human to human relationships”

So how do you ensure that you’re building human to human to relationships on social? It comes down to one of the most basic (and human) values: honesty.

By honesty I mean being transparent about your company’s values, goals and even challenges. Hold your hands up and tell people how it is, accept that an organisation run by humans will make human error sometimes and be open about this to your customers – that is how you build trust and trust is how you keep customers for a long time.

You only have to take one look at the Twitter channels of businesses like ASOS to see what an apology and some genuine empathy can do to turn around an unhappy customer. Other companies such as Monzo are exceptional at building a genuine online community through friendly responses to almost all customer tweets. I almost feel like I’m talking to a friend whenever I interact with businesses like these online.

Other companies that stay close to their brand whilst also being friendly and authentic include The AA, British Gas and Lidl. They all remain friendly, individual and on-brand.

This level of authenticity is best achieved when it’s backed up by things like:

  • A social media strategy that sets a tangible SMART goal
  • A solid understanding of how social media works both technically and emotionally
  • A social media policy
  • An intelligent and timely combination of forward planned and reactive activity
  • An awareness of how other brands, big and small, are doing it

Luckily, we can help you with all of these.

Without this combination it can be all too easy to give up on laying social media groundwork, and opting for something much easier like 10,000 fake followers or worse still, no social media presence at all!