Advertising in the social media age is exciting because it allows us to talk to potential clients in so many ways. But if you’ve been reading blogs or taking courses lately, you’ve been told your marketing needs to be “authentic.” You might assume that that means you need to stuff your business feed full of candid photos, videos and posts of your personal life.
Nope. Don’t do it.
Given Snapchat, Instagram and all the various apps that let you publicize your life at a moment’s notice, it’s very tempting to use your marketing feed the same way. What could be more real than interspersing your ads and asks online with images of your dogs or your vacation to the Caribbean? Unfortunately, such posts can feel off brand, off message, unfocused and ineffective in boosting your outreach.
That’s a fundamental puzzle with marketing your business on social media—you know you are supposed to be personal and present online. Your posts are supposed to feel intimate, unrehearsed and, yes, authentic—but at the same time, you risk losing your advertising message when you're talking about cats or redecorating your patio.
How can you be yourself but also be focused on talking to potential clients and customers?
The key is to remember that at least some, but not all, of your personal posts and stories and photos are in fact talking to someone specific--your Ideal Client Avatar.
If you aren’t familiar, your Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) is the person who is a perfect fit for you and your business. You both like similar things, have a similar sense of style and totally “get” one another. This ideal person also happens to be the person you were meant to serve and satisfy with your offer.
Successful brands don't assume their products and services are for everyone. You are making something for someone who wants your unique thing, be it the right-size tent or the perfect floral display.
A trick to communicating and deepening your relationship with specific, ideal clients is to take the time to answer all those bizarre, seemingly off-topic questions found in so many ICA worksheets. These are the questions that help you connect on multiple levels to your perfect clients.
● What kind of books do they read?
● What are they binge-watching on Netflix or Hulu?
● What do they do in their spare time?
● What are their guilty pleasures?
And here's the key--many of your ideal client's preferences should align with your own interests.
This will make you and your marketing easily relatable and, of course, genuinely authentic.
That doesn’t necessarily mean clients want to see your bathroom rebuild, but it does mean you can aim your marketing at things that are relevant to what you both relate to. It becomes personal and real when you feature images and ideas you believe in, while knowing they will as well.
For example, my ICA loves adventure. Not just outdoor adventures, though—she’s also brave when it comes to business and marketing. She’s not afraid to take calculated risks and learn from mistakes. One thing I do to make my own marketing more “authentic” and send a message to my ICA about the adventures we’ll have is to make live video outside, sometimes in the middle of a 5-foot snowstorm. This sends a subtle but very unique message that I’m available to step beyond comfort zones. It might not appeal to everyone, but it will speak to my people.
Let’s say your ICA loves “Downton Abbey” and you're over the moon for a new style or costume. You make a post on your business page rounding up three or so wedding details inspired by the costume, saying you spied the new frock on “Downton Abbey” and wanted to curate a style board for clients who also love “Downton Abbey.” Voila! That post will create engagement from your ICA.
Maybe you also made a post about your niece singing along to Rihanna. While both show the “real you” and are equally authentic, only one talks to your ICA within a relevant context.
If you have been confused about how to be both “authentic” and not go off-message or overshare information that is irrelevant to your business, there’s your answer. Revisit your ICA, the person who you know and understand best because they want to connect with you over all the shared things you both appreciate. That’s the wonder of social media—the ability to precisely reach those people who fit right in with us.
Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company specializing in conversion optimization that helps wedding industry brands and businesses develop scalable marketing strategies that can beat the algorithms. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.