7 Tips for Rendering Authenticity Through Social Media

by cv harquail on March 12, 2009

As part of a presentation I’m giving on “Rendering Authenticity Through Social Media, ” I’ve been distilling advice for from around the online conversation on how organizations can use social media to present themselves authentically.

The audience will be a group of managers (practitioners, not professors) who are not themselves directly responsible for social media (or for that matter, the organization’s corporate identity). Still, these managers need to become social media literate. And, I’m here to help them.

What do Managers need to know about “rendering” or creating authenticity, using social media?

So far (and open to your suggestions, here are 7 Tips for Rendering Authenticity Through Social Media.

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1. Pay attention to the full picture of social media.

Make sure to establish the appropriate relationships among these platforms by paying attention to how you distribute and align the organization’s goals across these platforms.

Consider: How can the organization’s Twitter stream, its Facebook profile, its blog, its customer relations email program, its online purchasing site, and its corporate information site all contribute to each other? Which platforms are best suited for which reputation building or management goals? How will the voices on each platform triangulate to build trust? How will the voices on each platform align with and augment each other?

2.  Speak in the plural first person rather than the collective third person.

When discussing the organization as a whole, use “we are” rather than “the organization is”. Pay attention to personality and style as well as information and description.

3. Invite stakeholders to participate in creating and sharing positive messages.

Doing this engages people and get them to identify with, represent, and defend the organization.

4. Be explicit and candid in the organization’s creative use of first person communication strategies.

If you use character blogs, corporate avatars, and corporate personas, make sure it’s clear that these are works of creative non-fiction. Same is true if you have ghostwriters. Make sure that somewhere, you identify and explain your strategy.

5. Proactively manage the balance between first-person representations of the organization and person-first roles for employees who serve as organizational spokespeople.

Make it easy for “brandividuals” to sustain their individuality; make it easy for any employee to understand, trust and confidently represent the organization’s point of view.

6. Build corporate/organizational social capital link by link, platform by platform.

It’s not about messages, it’s about relationships. Your goal is to create a strong social network of individual stakeholders who “know” and generally support the organization, because the organizaiton offers something important to them.

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7. Take advantage of what is unique about social media platforms.

Shift the organizations communication strategies to:
– Think exponential, not additive.
– Think small bites, not big blasts.
– Recognize that how matters more than what.
– Emphasize execution, depend less on perfect strategy.
– Be more opportunistic, depend less on being programmatic.
– Actively create content. Don’t rely on users to generate content.

Forgo imitative logic. Worry less about looking legitimate and more about looking authentic.

What else should I add? Or change? Or expand? (I did revise this a bit in Sept 2010…)  Please let me know, in the comments…


Larry Robiner March 14, 2009 at 9:19 pm

By definition, authenticity is not “rendered”. The more you start “rendering”, the less human, the less interesting and the less authentic you become. My advice: be yourself and let your personality show through.

Nat C January 5, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Thanks for sharing this advice with us on authentic social media. Much appreciated.

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