The World Wide Web is expanding exponentially. Users are spoiled for choice in the content they can access and companies they can do business with. This has pros and cons. It’s great to have so many options conveniently at your fingertips, but at the same time, too many choices are confusing.
For those of us writing for the Web and launching online businesses, getting noticed in this crowded marketplace is harder. It’s easy to feel like we have nothing outstanding to offer.
Instead of being downhearted, web writers need to be savvy. Take a step back, narrow your focus, and look to yourself. You will find the opportunities to create great content and build an outstanding online business lie within.
This is where authenticity steps in.
Why is authenticity important online?
Online, we interact with a screen, words, and images. Behind those screens are people and they drive the Internet. They are online for three main reasons — to find information, solve a problem, and connect with other people.
To make your content or website valuable, you need to:
- provide trustworthy, quality information,
- be a great problem solver, and
- build a relationship of trust, respect, and credibility with your prospects — develop a human connection.
Think about who you prefer to do business with. Would you rather pay your hard-earned money to someone who provides trustworthy, quality advice and understands your needs, wants, and problems, or someone offering an impersonal sales pitch?
Authenticity ignites your content and makes your online business thrive.
What is authenticity?
Authenticity is defined as: ‘undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.’ Another definition says it’s ‘accurate in representation of the facts; trustworthy and reliable.’
In web writing and online business, authenticity takes the three factors mentioned (genuine, trustworthy, and reliable), and combines them with your experience, uniqueness, and creativity.
The result is content or a business that stands out in the online crowd. It communicates in a way your human prospects can understand, use, and value. It surpasses the generalized information that overpromises and under delivers.
Let’s look at how you can apply authenticity to your writing:
1. Be a detective
Learn everything you can about your prospects. Find out as much as possible about what their problems are and what information they need.
A super sleuth focuses on details. Look for gaps that others might have missed so you can fill them with useful, accurate information and solutions.
This also applies to the information and solutions you will provide.
Good research enables you to find the most relevant, accurate, and interesting information.
2. Walk in your prospect’s shoes
Be empathetic. Empathy is knowing and understanding how a person feels and what they are going through. You can take on their thoughts and emotions.
When you truly understand your prospects, their problem, how it affects them, and combine this information with your own knowledge and experiences, you can help them solve their problem in a way that is meaningful and helpful to them.
Empathy is a key factor in establishing a connection. When you do this, the person feels like you really ‘get them.’ Your prospect will start to look at you or your website as a trustworthy and reliable source.
3. Be you
You are unique. No one else has exactly the same life experiences as you. These experiences, combined with your character, help to shape your perspective. This gives you a unique perspective on how to solve a problem or offer information. It makes it original and interesting. It could be the ideal solution to solve someone else’s problem.
4. Harness your superpowers
You have superpowers. Your business does, too. Clark Kent is an ordinary man. When disaster strikes, he morphs into Superman with incredible powers to rescue and solve.
Find out what your superpowers are. Use them to deliver brilliant content and be an expert problem solver. Like Superman, your superpowers are unique to you. Rescue your prospects from their problems and you will be their hero.
5. Be real
When someone shares their flaws and self-doubts with us, we feel better about ourselves. We relate to that person and feel more ‘normal’ knowing that someone else has similar feelings and flaws too. It establishes a personal connection.
People are attracted to those who are honest and real. They know there are no surprises. It establishes a relationship of trust.
Here is an example: My extrovert husband loves to talk. Often the thoughts that pop into his head shoot straight out of his mouth before his brain has a chance to filter them. He is brutally honest. Despite this, people like him — a lot. Why? They know where they stand with him. His motives are clear and they can trust him.
6. Be honest, admit mistakes quickly, use them to your advantage
If you make a mistake, admit it quickly.
Honesty and vulnerability help people understand, empathize, and sympathize. You will maintain trust and credibility and gain their respect.
Search for a way to use that mistake to your advantage. You could write a post about what you learned from it or what you will do better next time.
7. Be consistent
Consistency establishes reliability and trust.
Be consistent in the image you portray, the message you deliver, and the way you deliver it. Inconsistency can be confusing. Your prospects become unsure if they can rely on your information and the service you offer.
If you want to try something different, let your audience know. Involve them by inviting their opinions and feedback.
8. Focus on quality, not quantity
The Web provides an information overload. So much of it is mass-produced and vague.
How many times have you been lured into reading something that promises to change to your life and solve all of your problems? At the end, you realize you wasted 10 minutes of your life on something that was as useful as a piece of lint on a jacket. Do you want your content or website to do that? No!
Provide interesting, useful information that is accurate, over delivers results, solves people’s problems, and improves lives. Your advice must deliver the solution it promises, in the way it promises. The same applies to any service or product offered on your site.
By doing this, you become your prospect’s ‘go-to’ source for information and problem solving.
Authenticity in your web content is similar. Add your unique and personal touch to it.
For example, my friends always know when a present is from me just by the way I wrap it. It may be a bar of soap. However, the gift is made more appealing and interesting by the care and creativity used to wrap it.
When you add your own special flair to your web content, you present it in a way that is interesting and valuable to your prospects.
Is your content unique? I’d love to hear your tips for making it authentic in the comments section below.