Why Money Can’t Buy Customers [Authenticity vs. The Algorithm]


The rise in social media advertising has left many users immune to ads that show up on their feed through algorithms. This presents a problem for brands across multiple industries as they navigate the process of building brand awareness in an increasingly crowded digital world.

Fortunately, most companies recognize the importance of getting their content in front of target audiences; the trick, however, is to figure out the most effective way to connect to your ideal consumer.


The Importance of Building Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is imperative for the success of any business. When people know a company’s brand, logo and color palette, they can more easily recognize the business’s overall marketing efforts. As the brand creates connections with its target audience, it more likely to be seen as authoritative in its industry, thereby generating trust and selling more products and services.

Consumers have a tendency to look for brands they know when they make purchases. In fact, brand awareness can increase click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates several times over. With that said, it takes time for a brand to build a solid reputation.

In the early 2010s, the startup ecosystem boomed, creating a digital space whereby brands fought feverishly to build their images on newly launched online platforms, such as Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram. These platforms were able to target advertising in a way that marketers had never had access to before. As a result, a tidal wave of cash fueled the creation and refinement of social media and search algorithms.

As time has gone on, the cost of acquiring a customer (CAC) has continued to increase. This has forced small, local businesses and startups to fight to gain attention over giant companies that have huge budgets and more bandwidth to target consumers.

The problem? Brand awareness quickly shifted to focus on how content was being distributed to audiences rather than what content was being displayed. In other words, the quality and value of content was no longer a concern for many brands. However, consumers are tired of being targeted with ads and content that is written for robots. In order to build great brand awareness, companies must present authentic content to the world.


How to Create Genuine Marketing Campaigns

With this in mind, it’s time for brands to go back to the basics. Companies need to create stories that speak to their human audiences, not the algorithms.

If your company needs help creating genuine marketing campaigns, consider focusing on the following:


#1. Highlight Your Customers

Don’t make your products and services the stars of the show; instead, make your customers the superheroes of your marketing campaigns. The items you sell should support consumers’ efforts to achieve the results they want.


#2. Add Value by Educating

Always provide your customers with value. Nobody wants to be bombarded with content that’s just intended to sell, sell, sell. Consider offering blogs, training sessions, white papers, webinars, and other types of educational content that can be easily accessed (and shared) by anyone who needs to tap into your knowledge source.


#3. Be Vulnerable

Nobody is perfect, and most consumers don’t expect companies to be, either. The difference is how you handle your imperfections. Don’t shy away from negative reviews online, for example. People are watching to see how you’ll respond to unhappy patrons. Take the time to thank commenters for their reviews — both good and bad — and be sure to record that feedback and learn from that interaction. You can use those insights to guide future marketing efforts.


#4. Feature Your Experts

Featuring your subject-matter experts can help humanize your brand and build genuine connections with the people on the other side of the screen. Share your founders’ stories and feature employees from various departments in your content. This should help you build trust with customers.


In the End

Social media can do great things for building brand awareness, and paid ads certainly still have their place in the overall world of marketing; however, businesses would be wise to maintain authenticity when creating their content. This can help readers connect with brands while fostering trust and long-lasting relationships.

For more information, check out the graphic below.


Kyle Austin is founder and Managing Partner at Beantown Media Ventures, a digital marketing agency that has helped hundreds of high-growth companies drive inbound leads and build valuations. Throughout his career, he's created, executed and managed successful marketing communications campaigns for startups to Fortune 500 companies. Austin has been a member of teams honored with some of the industry's most prestigious awards, including a Silver Anvil from the PRSA and the IPRA/United Nations Grand Award. He has an MBA from Babson College and is a mentor at MassChallenge, one of the world’s largest nonprofit startup incubators.

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