Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | December 21, 2018

Fake It or Make It? Reputation Management and Local Authenticity

The stakes are higher than ever these days for large companies to be more authentic. An article produced by the Economist states that smaller companies are twice as likely to be trusted to do the right thing as opposed to larger companies. All businesses work to build a trusting relationship with Google, but with less and less people believing in brands nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly more important for businesses to build back the trust between the consumers and the brand.

Back in the day, they were able to do this through traditional ad campaigns that sold the company’s mission statement and shaped the image for the consumer. But in today’s world, a shift has occurred. Traditional advertising has become less effective and consumers are finding other alternatives to ads which provide them with the necessary information they need when deciding on a brand they believe is authentic.

How can they do this? User generated content (UGC) – reviews, social media posts, customer testimonials, social mentions, and other content are all means which consumers use to develop an interpretation of your brand. It is for this reason that it is so necessary for big businesses to encourage UGC and develop an image that consumers see as authentic.

What’s All the Hype About Local Authenticity?

In short, Local Authenticity is about building a positive brand image among your local audience. 68% of consumers stated that they would buy from a more authentic brand. This is due to the fact that authenticity inspires trust in customers and trust drives sales. The most successful brands on the market today are successful because they are a trusted. According to a graphic developed by the Authentic Brand Index, authentic brands also receive a greater share of higher value customers in comparison to institutions who aren’t seen as trustworthy by consumers. One of most direct ways to enhance the local authenticity of your search engine listings, predominantly Google, is through the use of UGC.

UGC and Your Authenticity: What Does it Mean for Your Bottom Line?

UGC is among the most important things that a company can have to provide a sense of consumer connection to their business. 80% of people surveyed believe that UGC influences their purchase decisions and indicates brand quality. This is due to the fact that UGC demonstrates that there is an active online community that cares about a business and shows interested buyers that others trust and care about the brand. Think about it this way: have you ever looked back on some of the things you enjoy (a movie, a clothing brand, a type of food) and really considered what the original reason was for your interest in it in the first place? If you think about it, you’ll most likely remember that it was someone else who recommended it. This is no surprise since about 74% of people recognize word-of-mouth as a key influencer to them making a purchase decision. UGC can be any number of things that work towards helping shape the image of your brand in the eyes of the consumers. This can include pictures, reviews, testimonials, social media posts, tweets, responses to other customers, you name it. By having UGC it produces valuable social proof which contributes to the development of genuine relationships and increased traffic to your business. According to one study, product pages with UGC see as much as 200% more organic traffic than those without. If utilized correctly, UGC can have a profound impact on your business’ revenue.

Tips to Bolster Your Local Authenticity:

Being authentic is probably one of the hardest things for any normal person to accomplish, let alone an entire company. 63% of consumers have stated that they prefer to buy from brands that are more authentic in comparison to competitors. To achieve this takes time and no small amount of effort – but the payoff is tremendous.

  • User Generated Content
    • 92% of people are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over branded content. Regularly asking for feedback and getting people to review your brand and discuss it is paramount to building an authentic business. The more people look at this content the more they’ll learn to trust your brand.
  • Be Transparent and Honest
    • 91% of consumers say that they want a brand to be honest about their products and services. Transparency about your brand and honesty about what you do is massively important to demonstrate to buyers that you’re an authentic brand they can trust.
  • Learn From Your Mistakes
    • Nothing says authentic than actually trying to rectify your foul-ups. No business is perfect and you’re going to have people who don’t like your brand, but how you deal with them and what they have to say is really what shapes the way people are going to perceive your company.
  • Make Sure Your Online Listings Are Consistent
    • Local online listings represent the online presence of your physical location. If the information on it is incorrect, this disconnects people from your brand by labelling you as just another absent corporate entity. Having accurate listing information shows shoppers that your brand is aware and present on a local level. It also improves your local search rankings among search engines and helps streamline the access that consumers have to your business.
  • Be an Active Member of the Community
    • One of the best ways to shape your local brand image is to try to do things that help build the community you’re in. Outreach programs, sponsorships, supporting local building projects; showing that your business is involved in the community demonstrates to your local consumers that you’re actually present in their lives.
  • Personalize Your Marketing Efforts
    • It’s easy for a company to make a standardized campaign to reach a broad audience. Where they really shine, is by tailoring their marketing campaign efforts to be a more personal experience for the consumer. Experiential or engagement marketing is something that allows for a business to create unique, individualized experiences that give customers the opportunity to really interact with your brand. Some successful examples of experiential marketing can be found here.