Businesses in all industries tend to agree that improving engagement among employees and customers is a critical step in strengthening their brands and achieving sustainable growth. Why do many organizations fall short of materially increasing engagement? They are missing a secret ingredient.
That secret is the power of authenticity in messaging. When communicating with employees, customers and business partners, organizations can’t fake it and expect to make it. Authenticity means the message, and the messengers, are perceived as credible and truthful. Dictionary definitions of “authentic” include being real, factual, true to one’s self or character, and worthy of acceptance or belief. What you see and hear should be what you get. The more that actions and words are in sync, the greater the perception that the message is authentic.
We’ve all been conditioned by our experiences to be skeptical in certain situations. We have learned to expect that what we hear in marketing and other communications contains spin. Unfortunately, a lot of corporate messaging does little to dispel such skepticism. An employee or customer who is skeptical of your company’s message is not highly engaged and poses a real risk to become a detractor rather than a promoter of your brand.
What can organizations do to win over the skeptics in their audiences? Think about how to make your messaging more authentic and true to what your organization stands for. Look for ways to demonstrate consistency in what your leadership team says and does. A sure way to disengage employees is to tell them, “Do as I say, not as I do.” An equally quick path to disengage customers is false advertising or the “bait and switch.” Is your organization sending these sorts of messages without realizing it?
Communication technology offers many options for delivering and receiving a message, for an audience of one or 1 million. One option that appeals to a wide range of audience demographics is video.
Video is transformative in demonstrating authenticity to employees and customers. This medium does great things for companies that embrace it. Among other things, video:
- helps build the brand
- increases engagement
- creates brand ambassadors
- differentiates the organization
- enhances credibility
An advantage of video in efforts to be authentic is that most viewers are inclined to perceive video messages as real. The best messages are exactly that, and the most authentic form is live video.
Reality TV runs the gamut from dramatic to disgusting, but there is no denying that it makes up a huge proportion of prime-time programming today. People crave to see things that are real, even if the reality is not always pleasant.
Reality is a powerful tool to convey a brand promise. The Coca-Cola Company, one of the world’s most well-known brands with a long history of iconic advertisements, learned this lesson a long time ago. The company made history in 1971 with a TV commercial set to music. “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” became so popular that people requested radio stations to play the song. The TV spot supported Coca-Cola’s 1970 slogan, “It’s the Real Thing.” A chorus in the song goes, “What the world wants today is the real thing.” The message was that people the world over have a common desire for something authentic, and Coke promises the taste of real cola. It was a brilliant pitch that tapped into a deep human need, at a tumultuous time in world history. Today, that message likely would be delivered through a live event.
It’s nearly the end of 2014, and the world still wants the real thing. If your organization is prepared to give it to them, your business will have an advantage.