If you think it is easy for a brand to be as genuine as a single human being, try gathering seven colleagues in a conference room and have them join forces to write a love letter to one of their spouses. The only ground rule is that the actual spouse does not get to comment or vote on the content.
What you would most likely end up with is a note that includes words and phrases that indicate love, passion, and attraction… however, that collectively doesn’t ring true to the recipient. It would be devoid of personal touches and insights.
This, unfortunately, is what can happen when brands combine research, multiple decision-makers, and – increasingly – automation in an attention to convey authenticity via social media.
A better approach might be this two-step process:
1.) Define the boundaries of your brand team operating on social media
2.) Give individuals on your team room to operate within those boundaries
Paradoxically, boundaries don’t restrict employees; created properly, they free your team to exercise initiative. For example, if you have a rule that says employees can post personal observations as long as they are positive, you are giving employees permission to share without going through a soul-deadening approval process. However, if every single post must be edited and approved in a seemingly endless process, all you will get on the other end are impersonal, meaningless shares.
Freedom comes from knowing what’s off-limits but also understanding where you can operate freely. For example, if a company authorizes employees to post any recipe that includes at least one of their brand’s ingredients, then employees can exercise their creativity in coming up with interesting recipes.
The more freedom you give employees, partners, and consumers, the more likely that their voices will come across as genuine. Early in the web’s evolution, merchants started allowing consumers to post both negative and positive reviews on corporate websites. This sounded like idiocy to some marketers, but it has proven to be an excellent way to build trust with consumers; any company willing to share the good, bad, and the ugly will come across as open and trustworthy.
If you step back and consider what happened with online reviews, you’ll see it is pretty much identical to what I am suggesting here. Most companies defined the boundaries of reviews as something like:
● You can say anything you want to be attached to a particular product, within our Reviews section
● It cannot be offensive, obscene, or deceptive
Once these simple principles were established, companies gave consumers the unprecedented freedom to add content to their sites. The result? Genuine human voices.
So if your brand wants to receive more love letters, give your team reasonable freedom to share genuine human voices.