Walk down any aisle at the grocery store and you’re likely to come across many packaged goods claiming to be “all-natural”. After taking the time to read the ingredients you will quickly come to realize that the term “all natural” is, in fact, meaningless. Has authenticity in social media been downgraded to an empty buzzword in the same way?
In a recent article titled “Let’s End All This Hypocrisy Around Influencer Marketing,” Toronto-based marketers Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward take the industry to task by asking us to challenge the notion of authenticity. The article begins by asking some critical questions such as: “Why do we feel the need to remind consumers of what is authentic?”, “Shouldn’t it just be authentic?” and “Who chooses what is considered to be authentic?”
I think the reason marketers feel the need to remind consumers of what is authentic is the fact that much of what we come across in our daily lives is in reality inauthentic. Authenticity is one of the “most overused words on the street right now” because it’s presence IRL is lacking.
Shouldn’t it just be authentic? Of course, it should be authentic in the same way that our food should be healthy or, at the very least, not harmful. But in a world where we can’t always trust our media outlets or the ingredients listed in our food, this is not the case. Consumers don’t always know who or what they can trust.
So, who chooses what is to be considered authentic? The answer is simple, we all do. It is our challenge and responsibility as storytellers to narrate the truth. Marketers, designers, brand strategists and copy editors all have their hands in the dough, conceiving, creating and promoting brand messaging without blurring the source. Oh, and also the FTC or Federal Trade Commission.
The most impactful messages are delivered with authenticity, with all the ingredients coming together in a way that is exciting without venturing away from a brand’s core values.
Is authenticity passé? Perhaps, but I doubt it. As long as Kylie Jenner’s lips are selling gloss, I know I will have something to rally against. I prefer real ingredients 😉
Digital Media Strategist