Christie Fidura
Christie Fidura 6 October 2015
Categories Social Media

Must We Really Be Reminded To Be Authentic?

Be authentic, and use storytelling to support your authenticity.

If I heard it once at Social Media Week London 2015, I heard it 1000 times… “Be Authentic.”


I must admit, this statement utterly flabbergasts me. I was so surprised by how consistently it was mentioned, by agency and brand alike, that I felt the need to ask if this question was really necessary. I tweeted it out to my 5100 followers. Unbelievably, the reply was ‘yes’, we do need reminding to be authentic.



This revelation was backed up many supporting topics at Social Media Week London which discussed the art of storytelling. Clearly, we’re onto a winner here when we think about meshing these two important ideas together.


“Be Authentic, And Use Storytelling To Support Your Authenticity.”


Kevin Spacey is the ultimate storyteller. Actor, writer, director, producer – he’s done it all, and all of it has been as the master of telling stories. Want to hear something really surprising? In 2014, he gave the keynote at Content Marketing World, where he talked about the three key elements of telling a story: conflict, authenticity, and the audience. “Audiences are rooting for stories, and they will binge on them, and engage on them with intensity,” Kevin says. Note he did not say, “Audiences are desperate to share your hashtag.”


gave the keynote at Content Marketing World


Let me give you some of the examples of where I saw this ‘be authentic’ caution being used at Social Media Week London 2015:


  • “Content has to sit in the community,” says Mark Adams, Senior Vice President and Head of Innovation at Vice Media. “Good content will achieve a catharsis in the community which then becomes conductive across the network.” This conductivity he mentions is the virality all Social Media Managers are seeking to achieve. Watch his #smwLDN interview.

  • “It’s content. Your audience decides if it’s social or not,” commented James Whatley, Digital Director for Ogilvy & Mather Advertising London, thereby proving Mr. Spacey’s point that it’s the story that matters, not its delivery.

          James Whatley

  • “We have hit peak ‘stuff’,” said Sarah Drinkwater, Head of CampusLondon. “Brands should create and collaborate in order to give more authentic, valuable experiences for community,” she explained. Sarah is right; there’s a lot of noise out there. How can a brand be heard? By telling an impactful story which paves the way for a successful experience.

          Sarah Drinkwater


As this is just a tiny sampling of the thousands of mentions of being authentic at #smwLDN, I think we are all in agreement that we need to be authentic. However, there seems to be a lack of understanding of how to actually do that.


My advice? Start by listening. Don’t be that guy walking down the street high-fiving strangers. Don’t be the person interrupting a great conversation at a party. Don’t do this in actual life, much less in social media. Karin Robinson at Ogilvy cautions, ‘Listen for at least 1 week before joining a social media conversation.’ It’s only by listening that we can start to know a person and what they’re really like.


It’s only by understanding a person that you can really talk to them with any actual impact.


It’s only with actual impact that you make a splash, leading you to the golden path of going viral.


Start slow, think, listen. Ask your top influencers for their stories, giving them a voice. Tell their stories in the same tone of voice that your audience uses. Don’t shoehorn your brand into that story. Make sure it’s a natural fit and supports your brand ethos, even if it doesn’t mention you by name. Publish the story in the places where your most desired audience, and your influencers, reside. Ask your target audience if they have seen the story, if they like the story. Thank them for sharing the story. Ask for more stories. Repeat.


That’s how you ‘Be Authentic.’


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