Authentic Followers

Modern consumers are wary of faceless corporations, so when it comes to your social media marketing strategy, you know by this point that authenticity is the key. How do you be authentic on social media, though, especially on platforms like Instagram, which is the perfect place to publicize glamorous lifestyles and share enticing photography that has people flocking to your account for more?

Some folks believe it’s outright impossible to be genuine on Instagram. There will always be the process of selecting the right images and some kind of tailoring and editing. Then again, perhaps that’s okay—posting on Instagram is all about communicating a message, which sort of makes it an art form in its own way. As a business, entrepreneur, or owner of a personal brand, you should try to be as genuine as you can be, whatever that may look like. Here are some tips for finding authenticity on Instagram:

Grow your brand organically

Organic Growth

People often feel more confident following accounts that have lots of followers already because they read it as a sign that the channel’s content is worth their attention. Due to this reason, you might be tempted to give yourself a sort of follower “cushion” that convinces people of your worth and legitimacy. However, purchasing fake followers and likes is not only unethical, but it will also hurt you in the long run. People will notice if your posts only have a few likes despite your thousands of followers, or if those supposed users hardly engage with the platform.

If you want to organically grow your brand on Instagram, you need to appeal to real people. That’s not to say you cannot use outside resources to help you find them, but trying to trick other users into thinking that you are deserving of their attention will drive them away. People seek validation and recognition from brands, so if you want their business, you need to make them feel seen and understood. Respond to comments, answer questions, use the right hashtags, and most importantly, publish intriguing content. Real followers can vouch for you by word-of-mouth, which is what you need to establish a strong community of brand advocates.

Appeal to a niche audience

That being said, you cannot appeal to everyone. You will appear desperate and fake if your brand is all over the place, trying to be “hip” for young people while overly professional for the older crowd. Why would members of either category follow an account that is inconsistent? Not only is spreading yourself too thin ineffective, but you will also waste valuable time, money, and effort.

Pick an audience that is most likely to “get” something from your brand. What are they missing that you can supply? Who will find your content the most interesting? When you have a better understanding of who your audience is, you can take the necessary steps to reach out to them.

Communicate with your brand voice

Remember to establish a brand “voice.” This concept includes your visual stylistic choices, tone, content type, and more. To be authentic, let your own personality shine through. Be fun. Be engaging. Be aware of your followers’ situations and their habits. Netflix, for example, is very aware that many of its customers are fond of binge-watching TV series, so it plays along—and in turn, its followers feel recognized.

Your voice is your opportunity to show that you are not merely another company out for everyone’s money. Maybe you can post candid shots of your coworkers at the office (with their consent, of course), or host an online contest that does not harvest participants’ information or make them jump through hoops. As Rina Bardic writes for Entrepreneur:

“The very essence of branding lies in the brand’s ability to connect and resonate with its customers. It is not about the latest creation, it is not about the highest budget or the most digital savvy team, it is about relevance and authenticity. It is about being able to communicate clearly with your audience in a way that is relevant to them.”

So don’t be a brand on a mountain descending to list reasons why people should follow you—remind them that your business is made of people, too.

Handle negative feedback with grace
Do you want to know something else that makes you more authentic? Maturity. Do not delete negative comments people make on your posts in an attempt to keep your image polished. Instead, respond as quickly as possible and do what you can to resolve the issue. Use this feedback to demonstrate your customer service skills. Instagram users will see that you are present online, and you care about what your followers have to say.

Instagram is filled with brands trying too hard to be what they think their audiences want them to be. Don’t be one of them—instead, be as authentic as possible.