Why Authenticity is Important In Business and Social Media
Here’s a brief little story: Pete, a business owner, has owned his small but profitable pub for over 15 years. He has always prided himself on the pub’s speedy service and his overall insistence in providing customers with an overwhelmingly satisfactory dining (and drinking) experience. Further, he has always ensured that customers who were either unsatisfied with their food or the dining experience in general received something to quell their disappointment, like a free drink or a free meal. A free something, basically.
He never sought to give the place away or anything, he just always found that, whatever the cost, making sure those customers never left dissatisfied was his #1 goal in running his pub. And because he was so insistent in that regard, it almost always seemed to work. Rarely did customers ever trudge out of the pub with a glum look on their face.
Then, business suddenly spiked one holiday season. A huge reason behind this was simply the huge influx of overwhelmingly positive reviews that Pete’s customers had been giving his business both on and offline. And then those friends told their friends and etc. etc.
Anyway, business was booming. Pete was excited, but nervous. He certainly appreciated the business, but knew that he wouldn’t necessarily be able to respond to unsatisfied customers with the same level of customer service. He simply didn’t have enough time or resources anymore.
So, instead of apologizing, he simply lied. He said, “your next meal is on us!” and never followed through with that promise.
What happened? One customer, after another, after another complained about their service, or lack thereof. They complained about it to their friends, posted about it on Twitter, gave it a terrible review on Yelp and even complained on the pub’s Facebook page.
And Pete just ignored it. Or simply said, “I’m sorry” and didn’t necessarily follow through with anything. “You lied, you scumbags!” one customer wrote.
And then Pete’s business took a huge nosedive. Fewer repeat customers started coming in, and new business was few and far between. And it was all because Pete’s pub simply couldn’t maintain the same level of authenticity and trustworthiness that had originally turned his pub into the powerhouse that it originally became.
Authenticity Breeds Trust
One of the reasons why authenticity is such an important piece of business, both offline and on the Internet, is because it helps establish and build the credibility of your business. Think about it. Who would you rather trust? A business that frequently misleads you, or one that makes you feel comfortable and assures you that they will never misguide you because they never have?
And typically, the authentic business is going to be the one that most customers are willing to share their experience with to all of their friends.
In Social Media, Authenticity is Real (and Humanizing)
Think about how your friends might speak with you on Facebook or tweet at you on Twitter. Most of the time, they aren’t trying to be as formal as possible. They aren’t combing over every single word and ensuring that nothing is spelled wrong or that sentences are grammatically incorrect.
Now think about how businesses might talk in advertisements, or how they might write in marketing materials. It’s a lot different. They do typically pay attention to what they are saying, and their writing is always informal and grammatically accurate.
But social media is different and it should be different. Social media provides businesses with opportunities to join conversations with customers that are far less formal than they would typically have in person.
That’s why it is important for that voice on Facebook and on Twitter to be authentic. Your respective business shouldn’t be trying to talk at your customers in a formal tone; instead, it should be trying to engage them in a relatable way. Of course, that specific voice will depend upon what sort of audience your business typically serves and what sort of impression you want to give those fans and followers. ‘Dude’ and ‘bro’ might work for one audience, but it might seem crass or simply unprofessional to others, so it’s important to tailor that voice around your specific audience.
Fixing Mistakes Can be Even More Crucial Than Not Making Them
It’s something business owners are always afraid of but unsure of how to react: What do you do if a customer has a terrible experience and proceeds to complain about that experience everywhere? What do you do if you say the wrong thing on Facebook or Twitter?
The beauty of the world is that no matter how grave your mistake or how scathing your negative review is, there will almost always be room for forgiveness.
But only if you’re willing to admit to the error of your ways. “I screwed up,” you admit. That’s okay, because it shows that your business is human. After all, businesses are run by humans, so they are prone to the same mistakes.
So, following a bad review or a social media comment that may have been taken out of context or painted a negative image on your business, admit that you’re wrong. Tell them that you messed up and that you’ll do anything to make it up to them. And then actually make it up to them. That’s the most important part. Nobody likes somebody that ignores their mistakes and simply allows them to fester into uncontrollable pandemics. And nobody likes liars, either.
And good business is about making mistakes. Make all of the mistakes you can as early as possible, because you will learn from them eventually. Mess up someone’s order, overwhelm yourself with too many customers or clients and piss someone off. Then, remember what you screwed up so that you will avoid making that same mistake in the future.
After all, a well-run business is one that isn’t necessarily thought of as just a business. It is one that is both relatable and real. Social media helps with that, but so can your own authenticity.
So find your voice and get out there and impress your customers. Give your best ones freebies in order to show that you appreciate them, and give your least satisfied ones assurance that you didn’t forget about them either. Something that tells them that you saw the error in your ways, and that you are fervently trying to fix it.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY Social Media company specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.