Authenticity means to do what you say you will do. People use it as a marketing goal. But there’s a much bigger problem. It turns out that holding up authenticity isn’t a job for the marketing team. You’re not executing ‘authentic’ messages. What makes the messages resonate as authentic is the way we perceive them as true or not. This is all based on context provided by the company itself.
Brands look at media and influencers and seek a level of authenticity. And they mean that a person promoting fitness expertise lives a healthy lifestyle, for example. A media company that reaches recent college graduates cares about them and genuinely creates content to be meaningful, not exploitative.
But most brands stop short of looking at themselves. A company doesn’t have to change itself to be ‘authentic.’ It doesn’t have to move towards full transparency. It just have to be honest in its communication. It is about not saying things that the leadership doesn’t believe or practice.
Facebook has crafted itself into a vast container. It’s given itself a wide berth to make crazy statements in senate hearings that don’t sound inauthentic (even if you don’t like them.) What they say matches what we know about the company, which is surprisingly little. They don’t make any bold proclamations about their intentions – not even things like ‘Don’t be evil.’ Facebook admits to being a way to connect people and host content. Nothing more. They take no responsibility for what gets shared and admit they aren’t even really able to know what most of it is.
Therefore, when the company shrugs at the proposed effects of content shared on the site to influence elections or other events, they don’t come off as ridiculous. It’s not a great look, to be clear. But those statements aren’t in gross disconnect from the way the company presents itself. Kind of messed up. But not inauthentic.
Given this lens, maybe find a new word to build around for your brands. Unless you’re willing to make major changes organizationally – or get called out for going off course.