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What is Authentic Content and How Should You be Using It?

An Introduction to Authentic Content

Content creation has changed so much over the last 20 years.  In fact, content creation and content marketing are relatively new terms. “Authentic content” is even more recent.

For me, content started out as 3 television channels and weekly visits to the library.  Now I have all kinds of information at my fingertips, 24 hours a day.  And there are also different options for consuming such information: audio, video, written and image-based.

traditional content

This means that everyone has a massive choice of the type of content they consume (or watch, read or listen to!), when they consume it and for how long.  On-demand content means that you for many types of content you do not have to show up at a specific time to consume it, and that has changed the content landscape significantly.

In fact, in this new era, authentic content is becoming more effective.  But what is authentic content?  And its forerunner traditional content?  Let me explain…

What is Traditional Content?

Traditional content (for me) is made up of extensively researched and produced video, such as those that appear on TV commercials.  The images are fantastic, the script is….well, scripted, and the voiceover is professional if sometimes a little over-worked.

Traditional content also includes print advertising, billboard advertising and so on.  Often with a great image and a cleverly-worded catchphrase.  In fact, much like something you might see on instagram, but these examples of traditional content pre-date instagram by many years.

I should start out by saying that there is definitely a place for traditional content.  It works.  Advertising sells and helps build brands. And some TV commercials and radio spots are pure genius, entertaining and effective.

But it does seem that some people are getting turned off by traditional advertising.  Especially the younger demographics.  They don’t like being sold to, they want to decide for themselves.  Fair enough, if you ask me, it makes a lot of sense.

And there is a general distrust (in some quarters) of traditional advertising.  It can be seen as too pushy, too produced…..too fake!

And so, as we move into 2019 and beyond, I predict a continued shift toward more authentic content.

What is Authentic Content?

Authentic content is less about the production (note: that does NOT mean that the quality is not good, just the the focus is on the content itself), and more about the actual content.

It is not about showing your product or service in an unrealistically good light – it is more about listening to stories from partners, customers and real people in real situations.  It is not just about the final product or service but it is about how it got there – the story behind the product.

Authentic Content Paul Urwin

Authentic content works well when there is a human connection, you are listening to someone’s story.  It’s real.  It’s hard to fake. And it gets results.

Authentic Content Examples

Here are a few examples of authentic content:

  1. An audio interview with the CEO
  2. A video testimonial from a real client
  3. A blogpost in interview format

In each of the above examples, the content focuses on telling a story, or discussing an experience.

Real video testimonials from real clients are more powerful and more believable than TV commercials that show a famous actress using a certain brand of shampoo – do you really think that she uses that shampoo herself?

I particularly like audio content for sharing this authenticity, there’s something about listening to an audio interview that really allows the listener to become more involved – there are no fake production techniques or overly-scripted answers.

Have a listen to these examples to see what I mean:

Interview with the CEO of Wild Beer

Interview with the CEO of Smart Hard Hats

Authentic Content Statistics

Here’s a few stats to back up the argument for authentic content:

1.  According to this Economist article https://www.economist.com/business/2015/11/14/its-the-real-thing, in 2013 the Boston Consulting Group surveyed 2,500 American consumers and found that being authentic was indeed one of the main qualities they said would attract them to a brand

2.  There are some great stats in this excellent article from Social Media Today:

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/survey-finds-consumers-crave-authenticity-and-user-generated-content-deli/511360/

Among them that 90% of millennials say that authenticity is important to them when considering which brands they support, and 57% of consumers think that less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.

3.  According to this Label Insight Study (these stats refer to food labeling, but I think they can be applied to other areas as well) nearly all consumers (94%) are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency, and almost 3 in 4 consumers (73%) say they would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all its attributes.

So, while there is definitely a “feeling” that potential customers are tired of being “sold to” and wish to have a more authentic interaction with a brand before making a buying decision, the stats are also there to back this up.

How Can You Benefit from Authentic Content?

As a business, looking to build your brand, there are a number of concrete ways in which you can benefit from authentic content.  Here’s a few:

  • Authentic content can lead to increased customer engagement, because potential customers are more likely to want to interact with products and services they perceive as “real”.
  • Authentic content helps to attract real buyers, because the content consumer is happy to interact with the brand and build up some degree of familiarity.   When the time comes for making a buying decision, the goodwill that has already been created leads to a higher probability of purchase.
  • Authentic content helps to create “true fans”.  People who really believe in your brand and who are not only going to buy your products themselves, they are also going to promote your products to their fans / colleagues / friends.
  • There is a certain feeling of liberation that can be enjoyed by both parties in an authentic content situation.  What I mean but that is that the brand feels happy to share what really goes on at their company (they have nothing to hide) and the consumer is happy to be involved in a real conversation or discussion without the fear of being bulldozed or pressured into buying.  Liberating content, if you like!

Authentic Content Essentials

The key to authentic content is telling a story using real situations, and then inviting engagement that can ultimately lead to a successful sale.  The flow diagram below should give you an idea of how this might work in practice:

authentic content

How Can You Get Started with Authentic Content?

I think the first step to authentic content creation is to allow yourself, in the event that this is needed, to undergo something of a mind shift in terms of the way that you produce content.  Content does not need to be over-produced, perfect, or have the world’s best voiceover talent to be able to work effectively.

It does need to be honest, focus on real situations, and allow potential customers to have a little bit of behind-the-scenes access.

Then, it’s just a case of getting started.  Developing authentic content ideas and making them a reality.

Give it a go!  Authentic content creation really can make all the difference.

If you need any help with creating authentic content, please contact us via this form, and we’ll be in touch right away!