It’s 1996. You might remember it as the year you listened to Macarena on repeat, but it’s also the first time the term ‘content marketing’ was used among journalists to describe marketing aimed at an online audience. By 2012, approximately 60% of companies used content marketing in their overall strategy. By the following year, that number jumped to a whopping 93%.
It’s 2019 and content marketing is no longer new, innovative or on the rise. It has risen. Today content is at the centre of almost every connection between the brand and the customer.
This puts us in a pickle. The online world feels oversaturated with content. And savvy consumers are not consuming everything they see anymore. They’re choosy, and we need them to choose us. So, how do we do that?
Declining Trust in Content Marketing
When content marketing first appeared, distrust in traditional advertising was at an all-time high, and content marketing was seen as an innovative and authentic alternative. But today, content marketing is suffering the same fate.
Trust in social media is declining. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2018, 59% of people have lost their trust in social media platforms. A further 40% of people have deleted at least one social media account because they didn’t trust the platform to protect their personal information.
And it is so ridiculously popular that consumers are starting to feel overburdened by the amount of marketing targeting them. Because of this, consumers are becoming savvier about the information that they engage with. They’re becoming experts at blocking out content that is fake or gimmicky.
Engaging Your Audience with Trust
A brand’s content will either grab the audience’s attention (think Greenpeace’s Dead Whale campaign), or it won’t. And we all want to know how to create content that does. But tech-savvy consumers want a relationship with a company that is based on trust, not sales tactics.
So while brands are told time and time again that the only way to beat the increasingly global distrust of content marketing is to ensure that they are delivering an authentic message, in 2019 authenticity is no longer enough. You, your brand, your company and each individual message must prove that you’re trustworthy.
You do this with sincerity.
Authenticity AND Sincerity
Your brand needs to demonstrate that you are human, and authentic (by sharing personal anecdotes, using humour and creating original content) but it also needs to show an absence of pretence, deceit or hypocrisy through sincerity. In other words, your audience needs to believe that you’re honest.
The conundrum is you need to do this in a forum where dishonesty and feints seem woven into the fiber of its structure. Where #reallife is scripted and #truth is quite literally fiction – social media.
In the online world of social media, everyone is putting out what they think their audience wants to see. The budding entrepreneur appears to have clients booked through the end of the year, influencers use FaceTune to make sure the products they are spruiking make them look good and everyone’s business meetings are peppered with perfectly brewed lattes and tastefully strewn designer stationery.
It might be ‘authentic’ – it might even fall in line with their branding and mission statement – but it’s not sincere. Worse, it’s not even true.
So, how do you demonstrate sincerity with your brand?
First, ensure your brand is honest and sincere. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. Be clear with your clients about the work you can produce. Set expectations that you can meet and work hard to meet them.
Be transparent in all your dealings. When you make a mistake, own it and fix it – whether you’re dealing with a mistake in-house, or with a client. Establish a niche authority – don’t try to be good at everything, just be great at something.
If you are sincere in your marketing, and in your dealings with customers and employees, you’ll find you have an engaged, loyal audience that admires your brand and what you stand for. Social shares of your content will increase. Mentions of your brand on social media will increase. Traffic to your sites will increase.
Your brand awareness will increase. And that’s what content marketing is for.
And for heaven’s sake, make sure your posts are telling a true story. If you got no sleep and are drinking a coffee the size of an Esky, don’t accompany it with a picture of you looking perfectly coiffed. Or if you do, make sure to #ridiculous.
Writing content that is authentic and sincere is my thing. Need help? Reach out here.