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Why Authentic Content Matters

Hey Phil, have you read this Sway blog?

As a content creator, I try to keep an ear to the ground of what’s happening, what’s new and fresh in the world of social media. Recently, you may have seen an article about an Instagram account of a “Construction Worker Dad who becomes an Influencer” on a challenge from his daughter. Within just a few weeks since the account’s inception, Omar (@JustAConstructionGuy) racked up an impressive half a million followers.

Upon seeing it, something didn’t sit right with me. The pictures were too clear, too edited, too staged. Someone who doesn’t regularly have a social media account or is new to social media wouldn’t know some of the lighting and staging tricks that photographers and professional influencers use to give clear, bright photos. This was not your average smartphone camera roll.

My first Instagram post from 2011, we have a lot to learn

My keen social media eye called shenanigans from the moment I saw it. And as it turns out, it was indeed a fake account created by a marketing agency to sell coffee in Austin, TX.

In the current age of social media, authentic content matters. Consumers don’t like to feel duped or made fun of. People want to be in on the joke, not the butt of it. It's a dangerous game to try to fool your consumers. Did it work this time? Sure, they managed to create a huge buzz and get their name out across the nation. Will it work every time? Absolutely not. Will Cuvee Coffee be known as an authentic and trust-worthy brand? Time will tell, but my instincts say no.

Each new generation becomes more and more tech-savvy and media literate. Even your grandma probably knows about fake news. One survey suggests that 84% of Millennials stated that they don’t like advertising at all and will eschew traditional marketing attempts. Too much marketing oversaturates the airwaves and has become white noise to most people. How do you stand out?

With authentic content. When content is genuine and original, it sparks conversation and real reflection. It speaks to us in a way that touches something within us - a fond memory, a place we enjoy, or an idea that we aspire to. User-generated content, like reviews or unsponsored Instagram shout-outs are some of the most powerful online tools, which is why Influencer culture has become so huge. Many users see Influencers not as a marketing tool, but as a trusted friend or aspirational figure. If a hip Influencer has a certain pair of shoes, then 5,000 girls will suddenly wishlist that footwear. It’s powerful stuff!

Try to avoid gimmicks that make your brand look fishy or like you have an ulterior motive. The @JustAConstructionGuy account flirts with a dangerous game of misogyny, poking fun at typical female Influencer tropes in an industry that is female dominated; as over 84% of sponsored Instagram Influencers are women. Is it hilarious for a burly, cigar-smoking construction worker to like latte art? I thought that as a society we were past stereotypes like that. Lattes are delicious for all genders!

The trend towards authenticity won’t change the content marketing industry overnight, but it's starting. Pro-active brands who work to fix their authenticity problem will look like industry leaders, not bandwagon jumpers, and their marketing will benefit from their efforts to look genuine.

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