On Being The Real Deal In Everything You Do
Bringing more of the real you and your own experiences to the content you produce, humanises your work.
Your content becomes so much more than self-serving or campaign-driven, it engages and builds stronger bonds with your audience.
Allowing the ‘real you’ to shine through can be as simple as using photos taken on your phone as the main image for a blog article or being open about sharing where you might have gone wrong in your work in the past. It might be a video (that’s spontaneous, unscripted and far from perfectly rendered) that resonates with a new subscriber, and makes them see that you’re interested in what they might have to say.
It’s not just about showing vulnerability but about creating connection and building trust so that people find it easier to commit to you when the time is right.
Why Is Featuring Real People Important?
A stock library image is a photo someone else took. Available to everyone it could end up being used by thousands of different companies. Any hope of putting your own individual stamp on your content, goes out the window.
Every article that I post and most of the images used in the weekly YATM email are always taken from my phone (check it out here). It’s far easier to engage with someone’s real personality rather than an Unsplash image, and it sheds the ‘company with no soul’ feel of your content. For instance, the main pic at the top in this article is from an event by good friends at Adido.
This is especially important if your business champions UX and customer interaction. Showing your customers, subscribers and prospects the real you and/or the real people on your team is a great way to ‘live’ your values and show evidence of who you claim to be.
So, Where Do Companies Go Wrong?
Businesses can sometimes have a tendency to put all their eggs in the brand basket at the expense of the people who work for the company. Consequently, the emphasis is on directing potential customers to trust the company over the people who do the actual work. This downgrades the human stories that could be such a powerful part of the story.
A good way of escaping these pitfalls is for the people on your team to create work that only they could have created. It’s work that shows off their personalities. Your camera reel on your phone may not have the best-ever images, but they document the life you live and is unique to you. Although it might be a daunting prospect at first, sharing what makes you, you, soon becomes your differentiator. It’s your chance of having people relate to you whilst contributing something of value to your community.
It’s always good to review the content you share. Look at your website or email newsletters. What is the split between self-promotional and informative? Do the emails you send come from a place where you guide or do you just sell?
Being the real you is far better than a manufactured, ‘Sunday best’ self. Lots of celebrities are able to make this work really well. Adele for instance uses ‘Stories’ and ‘Live’ to bring her real self to the party and in turn, her audience feels closer to her (here is an extract from a recent interview, below).
What Can You Do?
The payback from putting the ‘real you’ front and centre in your work doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time, but can reap huge rewards.
Show the relatable side of your industry
If your audience is other small businesses and individuals, talk them through case studies that are relatable, featuring initiatives they could pursue themselves. They’ll never have the budgets the large brands have, so you need to show what’s achievable for people like them.
Champion people others may never have heard of
Just because someone doesn’t have tens of thousands of followers doesn’t mean they’re not doing good work. If someone’s work appeals to you and you feel your community could benefit from seeing it, you need to share it. Take for instance, Sam Davis who leads the team at Back Of The Net. For an AFC Bournemouth fan like myself, everything that Sam delivers is on point as it’s from a Bournemouth supporter’s perspective. The community he’s built is a bit like football YATM!
Have a look at what Sam does…
See your phone as your studio
You don’t need a ton of apps or fancy plug-ins. Each week I add a video as part of the weekly YATM email. It’s a way for me to explain the main points and highlight key themes. A video in HD:60 mode (not HD:30) means I record in 4K resolution with a lapel microphone. I edit via my phone, taking out the very beginning and end (so you don’t see hands pressing start and stop) and the final video is uploaded to Vimeo. Talking at a screen is a way of living up to what I’m saying.
Appreciate every single person who commits to you
You can’t take the people who subscribe, buy or just enjoy what you share for granted. Their involvement presents an opportunity. You could champion their work, give them a leg up or space on your side (in the YATM email someone in the community begins the email every week). This makes them feel more at home and more likely to tell other people about what you’re doing. As Mark Schaefer says in Marketing Rebellion, ‘be fans of your fans.’
The more consistent you are, the easier it becomes to demonstrate a real sense of yourself running through your work. The experiences you have and the lessons you take on board have relevance in your sector.
In focusing on your real world experiences, you’re acknowledging that your content is destined for people, not just for algorithms and search engines. You are your greatest, and often, only differentiator, so make the most of what you bring to the table!
It is difficult to live up to some sort of persona you have created as at some point, you’ll get found out. Humanising your work is about what you share coinciding with what you do and who you are. It’s the greatest enabler you have.