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Be Real: Authenticity in Social Media

Posted on March 27th, 2013 by

  •  Authenticity is everything
  • Spoofing is easier than ever
  • Toughen up; if you’re good you will be spoofed


The only reason why social media matters is because people think it’s real. The Nielsen Data from last Spring showed that people find advertising about half as trustworthy as recommendations from friends. Social Media is harder than regular marketing.

If you don’t maintain authenticity, you might as well be buying big dumb ads.  (And I sold big dumb ads — there’s nothing wrong with them, but they aren’t as effective as Search Ads and certainly less effective than social media.)

But a long-term relationship with a client (the Holy Grail) can’t be based on lies. (Can any other relationship in your life be based on lies?) Doing social media right means having the guts to be yourself, to be human, to present yourself to customers as you really are.  That means you have to be honest. You don’t have to point out all your flaws — do you do that in your marriage? — but you have to be real.

And a note about my obvious hypocrisy — how can an outsourced social media firm go on about authenticity? Because we have to write content that is in harmony with the client’s strategy, otherwise it looks insincere.  Like any other professional communicators, we have skills and equipment that not every company has. And while we can’t claim to be part of the company, once we have gone through an intensive strategy process with our clients, we certainly can speak in the voice of the client. In some ways, the bar is higher for outsourced companies — if we get it wrong, it’s blindingly obvious, and we lose the business. (Frankly, we’re under at least as much pressure to get it right than the average in-house blogger.)

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And that’s why Lemme Tweet That For Ya is interesting and dangerous. The site lets you spoof a tweet coming from anyone on Twitter — the President, your ex-girlfriend, the Pope. (Or Usain Bolt, as seen above. I’m fast but not that fast.) While on one hand the ability to make up a fake news headline is at least as old as Disneyland, the emerging importance of the data points people get on social media means that spoofers can do a lot of damage, and deeply undermine your credibility. Services like lemmetweetthatforya are the fake ID’s of the internet — the promoters claim they’re just for fun, but every year a lot of damage gets done because of them.

One sad thing is true of the Internet — if you’re popular at all, your critics will come out of the woodwork, and someone will try to spoof you. Be aware that even though something may seem obviously fake to you, your customers might not know the difference. Monitoring mentions of your brand is always a good idea, and is a simple thing you can do today. Spoofing is real. Make sure it doesn’t happen to your brand.

Adrian Blake is CEO and Resident Track Star of Social Media Contractors.

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Adrian Blake

Co-Founder at SMC
Adrian began his career in the television industry, leading the international growth of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. Adrian has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an A.B. from Harvard.

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