What is Authentic Leadership in Content Marketing
Being a brand leader is one of the ways you can cut through the clutter to stand out from the competition in today’s online world. Everyone wants to be an overnight success, but being a leader takes experience (time) and dedication. For your brand to be seen as a thought leader in the public’s view, you have to be consistent and relentless in how you promote the company image.
Airing the Not-So-Glamorous Laundry
People are getting tired of the buttoned-up, life-is-perfect view of social media. They want to know that their problems are normal problems to have and that everyone from influencers and celebrities to brands don’t actually have it all together all of the time. The more you perpetuate how easy it is to operate as a company, the more your audience will question why life seems so hard for them. Instead, take moments to make fun of yourself and show how hard you really do work.
Showing off the not-so-glamorous side of the business can offer a view of real grit and spark feelings of trust and admiration. When you are hard at work preparing for a particularly difficult day, launch or event, talk about it! Show a little glimpse behind the scenes that gives your audience perspective into your brand.
Showing the bumps along the way can also offer a realistic and intimate view into your world. Don’t show examples that will make people question your integrity or competence as a business. Start by correcting the mistake and then take the opportunity to talk about it to the public. Just print a bunch of tees backwards or send out an embarrassing email typo? Make fun of yourself a little bit and let your audience laugh a little at your expense. Don’t point out every single thing, but do take times to show your company is run by humans that aren’t perfect, but work hard to be reliable.
Offer Free (and Real) Value
You’ve heard over and over. I’m going to say it again, really loud for the people in the back. IF YOU WANT TO ATTRACT AN AUDIENCE, YOU HAVE TO OFFER THEM VALUE WITH NO STRINGS. That means that not every tip and trick should be hinged on their action. If you are only offering free value for a sign-up, like or share, then you are not really offering free value. To be seen as a great thought leader, you have to want to help people and you have to be willing to give things away. For free.
Everyone is online looking for help and solutions. People want to find brands that help and aren’t looking to nickel and dime them at every turn. The tighter you visibly clutch at your purse strings, the tighter your audience will clutch theirs.
Get Involved IRL
Go to speaking events, get involved with local community organizations, do things in real life (IRL). Talking about what you are up to locally is a great way to offer a perspective on how you are a local leader and will ground your brand image. You can host a workshop or activity at a public community event. Do you target parents with kids? Offer face painting at the upcoming festival or provide an arts and crafts table at the next fair. If you are targeting adults, bring useful promotional items for those you talk to or host a workshop to show off a helpful tip related to your industry. Include snippets of this on your social media pages so your audience can see you working IRL and feel invited to join in. Then, follow up with a blog or email newsletter talking about the success and recapping the event for those that couldn’t participate.
Be Confident, But Open to Change
Brands have to have a good understanding of who they are and where they fall in the industry, but they also have to take criticism. People openly complain and vent online. Take these opportunities to show grace, confidence and an open ear. When someone is bashing your brand for a bad experience that was all on them, don’t be afraid to provide a polite but confident response. But when someone does have a legitimate gripe, don’t take it personally—be gracious and grateful to learn where you can improve.
Do the Right Thing
People want to believe leaders do the right thing. It’s really upsetting to people when they find out the authorities are acting in a way that isn’t trustworthy and in their best interest. Your company needs to focus on doing what’s right and not just doing what’s profitable. Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t ignore customer struggles, problems or complaints. Go above and beyond to fix mistakes. These are the ways you will be seen as a leader in the industry.
If you need help perfecting your voice or keeping up with the demand of content marketing, you can always hire a freelance writer. Here at WriterAccess, there are a lot of us with a wide range of perspectives, talents and expertise for you to choose from. Write On!
Alethea M graduated from the University of Saint Francis in 2009 with a B.A., double-majoring in Communication Arts and Graphic Design and double-focusing in Illustration and Computer Arts. She photographed the Saint Francis football team for a paid work study all four years she spent at the school. Immediately after graduating, she got a job at a non-profit company teaching art to young children and running their art program. She moved on to work as a copywriter and graphic designer for another non-profit company in Indiana as a Marketing Assistant for two years. She now spends her time as a wife, mother, freelance writer, and photographer.