Building Brand Authenticity Through Community

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A brand’s paramount asset lies in its capacity to interact with potential customers and existing ones via social communities. These platforms serve as treasure troves of customer feedback and insights, offering invaluable guidance for refining product positioning and service strategies.

Nevertheless, fostering and nurturing these communities to establish genuine engagement demands dedicated time and effort. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; each brand possesses a unique voice and community requirements.

While this post won’t offer a step-by-step guide tailored to every brand, we’ll delve into a framework that you can adapt to your specific needs. By employing this framework, your brand can foster meaningful interactions with both customers and prospects.

In this article, we’ll explore the following key areas:

  1. Value and Tone: Determining the most suitable ones for your brand.
  2. Consistency Across Channels: Effectively translating your message across various platforms and ensuring continuity for your customers.
  3. Engagement Strategies: Evaluating the balance between paid and organic engagement.
  4. Channel Neutrality: Maintaining an impartial perspective on different channels, recognizing that each brand may have unique affinities and constraints.

Before delving into these topics, it’s important to note that our discussion will refrain from favoring or criticizing any specific channel. We aim to remain impartial, acknowledging that different brands may find varying levels of alignment with different platforms.

This alignment could be influenced by factors such as creative capacity—how much time you can allocate to posting and interacting on a channel—or resources for video content creation, among other criteria. Regardless of the channels you choose to engage with, consistency is key.

Value & Tone

A brand’s values are intrinsic to its identity, reflecting its essence at the deepest level. Some brands prioritize transparency, willingly sharing every aspect of their operations, from team dynamics to product/service roadmaps.

Others emphasize the concept of ‘doing well by doing good’, shining a spotlight on community engagement and social responsibility alongside their core activities.

There’s no definitive right or wrong approach here. What’s crucial is understanding your brand’s fundamental ethos and ensuring that your messaging aligns with it.

Defining your values is a weighty task that demands careful consideration. Moreover, it’s imperative that your team not only acknowledges these values but also embodies them.

For instance, if community giving is a foundational value, team members should refrain from making light of others’ hardships in their online presence. Conversely, if your brand values certain technological advancements, publicly criticizing these advancements could undermine your message.

While it’s essential to acknowledge that opinions can evolve and change based on new insights, maintaining consistent communication is crucial to solidify any shifts in value positions.

Take, for instance, Semrush. Previously, the brand had a different visual identity, sparking debates on how to correctly pronounce its name. The company decisively settled the matter, albeit stirring some discontent within the community, which resisted being corrected.

Nonetheless, Semrush’s firm stance ensured uniformity in its branding, a strategic move especially as it geared up for its IPO.

In contrast, Burger King’s ill-conceived tweet campaign, “women belong in the kitchen,” was a glaring misstep. While the intention was to shed light on the underrepresentation of female chefs in high-ranking kitchen roles and equitable pay, the execution backfired predictably.

Yet, the brand managed to salvage some reputation by owning up to the error and providing transparent insights into its original intent. This acknowledgment prevented the incident from becoming a total failure.

Although Burger King faced a notable setback in its public image, it inadvertently drew attention to the underlying cause. Credit goes to Purna Virji for shedding light on this and other insightful examples in her book, “High Impact Marketing.” You can find the first chapter of her book linked here.

These instances offer a valuable framework for shaping the way your values and tone resonate with customers:

  • Do you embrace humor, even at your own expense, or do you prefer a more serious approach?
  • How agile are you in responding to shifts in customer sentiment, and to what extent does this influence your risk tolerance?
  • Should your brand closely align with public events, or should you focus more on creating industry-specific innovations?

Answers to these questions lay the groundwork for your brand strategy across various channels.

While you’re poised to cultivate communities, remember that effective moderation is essential for sustainable engagement. Prioritize channels where you can dedicate sufficient resources for active participation.

In a moment, we’ll explore each major channel in detail. Regardless of the number of channels you pursue, keep in mind that successes often go unnoticed, while failures are more enduringly remembered. The most significant failure lies in neglecting to assert control over your brand.

Even if you’re not yet ready to actively engage on a channel, it’s wise to secure your brand’s presence by claiming your profile.

Translating Messages Across Channels

Social media typically encompasses platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Quora. However, your approach to each platform, as well as any emerging ones like Discord, Slack, and Tumblr, should be tailored to your team’s readiness to match the pace of engagement.

Let’s delve into each platform, considering its speed, overall vibe, and scope for creativity.

Remember, while it’s crucial to secure your profile presence across all platforms, active engagement should be prioritized where you can maintain consistency and understand your audience’s preferences and potential for interaction.


  • Tone: Typically relaxed and conversational, but adaptable based on the nature of the content being shared.
  • Pace: Maintains a moderate tempo, balancing between timely updates and enduring content. Brands usually post 1-2 times daily to ensure visibility within the platform’s algorithm.
  • Creative Flexibility: Offers a range of content formats, including text posts, images, videos, live streams, and Stories. Moderation protocols enforce community standards, governing the types of content allowed.
  • Community Management Tools: Equipped with features like Groups, Pages, and messaging for effective community oversight. Additionally, provides analytics and insights to assist Page administrators in gauging performance.


  • Tone: Centered on visuals and aesthetics, often aiming for an aspirational or inspirational vibe.
  • Pace: Rapid, prioritizing real-time updates and Stories. Brands usually post at least once daily to sustain visibility.
  • Creative Flexibility: Primarily emphasizes visual content such as photos and videos, complemented by features like filters, stickers, and editing tools for artistic expression. Moderation entails adherence to content guidelines and community standards.
  • Community Management Tools: Provides business profiles, analytics, and messaging functionalities for effective community management. Additionally, features like hashtags and tagging facilitate content discovery.


  • Tone: Predominantly professional and formal, focused on career advancement and networking, though there’s room for B2B humor and memes.
  • Pace: Generally slower-paced, emphasizing thoughtful and curated content. Brands typically post 2-5 times weekly to uphold visibility, while individuals maintain a daily presence in their feeds.
  • Creative Flexibility: Primarily entails text-based posts, articles, and professional updates, with options for multimedia content. Moderation involves upholding professional standards and regulating promotional material.
  • Community Management Tools: Equips users with tools for personal and business profiles, including messaging, groups, and analytics. Additionally, features job postings and networking functionalities.


  • Tone: Lively, entertaining, and frequently infused with light-hearted or humorous elements.
  • Pace: Extremely rapid, characterized by short-form videos tailored for swift consumption. Brands often post multiple times daily to ensure visibility.
  • Creative Flexibility: Exceptionally adaptable, emphasizing short videos enriched with effects, filters, and music. Moderation involves enforcing community guidelines and regulating specific content types.
  • Community Management Tools: Provides engagement features like Duets, reactions, comments, and hashtags. Additionally, offers creators analytics to track performance.

X (Twitter)

  • Tone: Conversational, often informal, and succinct due to character constraints.
  • Pace: Swift, characterized by real-time updates and trending discussions. Brands usually post multiple times daily to sustain visibility.
  • Creative Flexibility: Constrained by character limits yet supports text, images, videos, and GIFs. Moderation involves adherence to Twitter rules and regulations regarding sensitive content.
  • Community Management Tools: Offers engagement features like retweets, replies, hashtags, and lists to foster interaction and community growth. Additionally, provides analytics and Twitter chats for effective community management.


  • Tone: Diverse, shaped by individual subreddits, yet generally informal and community-oriented.
  • Pace: Varied, encompassing both real-time discussions and leisurely threads. Brands often engage consistently but refrain from excessive posting to preserve credibility.
  • Creative Flexibility: Accommodates a range of content formats such as text, images, links, and videos. Moderation entails adherence to subreddit-specific regulations overseen by moderators.
  • Community Management Tools: Provides moderation functionalities like post removal, banning, and enforcement of community guidelines. Features for subreddit creation and management, as well as interactive voting and commenting systems, play vital roles in fostering community engagement.


  • Tone: Informative and centered on sharing expertise and knowledge.
  • Pace: Generally leisurely, characterized by in-depth questions and detailed answers. Brands typically participate by offering insights and joining relevant discussions.
  • Creative Flexibility: Mainly reliant on text, though images and links can be incorporated. Image size varies based on Quora’s formatting guidelines. Moderation entails adherence to Quora’s policies and standards.
  • Community Management Tools: Equipped with moderation features for questions, answers, and comments. Functions like following topics, upvoting, and following users enhance community engagement and interaction.


  • Tone: Varied, reflecting the diverse nature of individual servers, often adopting a casual and conversational style.
  • Pace: Dynamic, spanning from leisurely discussions to live chats and events. Brands typically engage actively while ensuring not to inundate channels.
  • Creative Flexibility: Offers text, voice, and video communication options, coupled with customizable server settings and bots for added functionality. Moderation involves enforcement of server-specific rules by administrators.
  • Community Management Tools: Provides robust moderation features for managing roles, channels, permissions, and content. Features like voice channels, emojis, and reaction roles contribute to enhancing community interaction.


  • Tone: Primarily professional and task-oriented, though it may adopt a casual tone within certain channels or teams.
  • Pace: Generally moderate, featuring real-time communication within teams. Brands typically engage consistently while prioritizing productivity by avoiding excessive messaging.
  • Creative Flexibility: Mainly relies on text communication, supplemented by features for file sharing, integrations, and custom emoji. Moderation involves ensuring adherence to team guidelines and limiting off-topic discussions.
  • Community Management Tools: Provides tools for channel management, user roles, message deletion, and integrations with diverse apps and services to enhance productivity and collaboration.

Now that we’ve delved into the fundamentals of each channel, let’s discuss the process of adapting messages across them.

In general, text-based content usually transitions smoothly across platforms, as long as you adjust for character or word limits. However, things become trickier when incorporating visual elements.

This presents a dual challenge.

Firstly, there’s a push to create visual content due to its effectiveness on social platforms. Yet, each platform has its own distinct tone and format. For instance, you can’t simply repurpose a video made for LinkedIn as a TikTok clip.

While length matters, so do tone and expertise on the subject. Even if the core ideas remain consistent, you might need to repackage them to fit each platform’s requirements.

Moreover, from a community perspective, each platform operates under different algorithmic guidelines. Consequently, if your community is accustomed to a more relaxed approach regarding language or sensitive topics, you might encounter difficulties transitioning it to platforms with stricter regulations.

A prime illustration of this is evident in Facebook Groups, where stringent community rules are enforced, often through automated processes that identify and remove posts.

Conversely, platforms like Slack or Discord (e.g., private servers requiring login) offer more flexibility, with the allowance of content being at the discretion of the server controller. Hence, if flexibility is crucial for your community, opting for a password-protected environment might be preferable to joining a more openly accessible group, such as those on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Each community operates on its unique algorithm for content dissemination, meaning if you’re keen on ensuring your content reaches your audience directly, you may need to prompt them to check the group or page regularly.

Furthermore, instructing them to mark your Group or Page as a special interest ensures they receive all updates directly, rather than relying solely on their feed. For instance, on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, users can adjust their preferences to see more or less from specific individuals or groups.

If individuals consistently express disinterest in your Group, despite having engaged members, it could pose challenges in organically reaching them with your content unless they actively visit your community page.

Paid Versus Organic

When it comes to authenticity in connecting with your audience, it’s crucial to consider your communication style, regardless of whether it’s a paid effort or not. The essence of authenticity lies in how you engage with those who support your brand.

Regardless of your promotional approach, it’s no coincidence that paid advertisements and sponsored content often allow for audience comments and reactions. If you notice high engagement on a sponsored post, it’s an indication that mixing in some organic content could be beneficial. However, responding to comments can expand your reach beyond your initial investment – but there’s a caveat.

Showing up in spaces where people haven’t actively sought you out can sometimes lead to irritation rather than fostering genuine connection.

Consider a scenario where a brand repeatedly runs YouTube ads on a new product without any frequency capping. Then, the same topic is discussed in its online communities. Instead of garnering a positive response, the brand might face backlash for being perceived as intrusive, as people are already fatigued by the repetition.

The key lies in attentively listening to customer feedback while elucidating the operational dynamics. For instance, if the aim is to shield existing customers from ad bombardment, certain audience size thresholds must be met (1,000 for search-first platforms and 100 for social-first platforms).

If these requirements aren’t met, it’s crucial to transparently communicate that the inundation isn’t deliberate; it’s simply a function of the system’s mechanics.

Regarding authenticity: Some argue that paid ads lack the genuineness of regular posts. However, the reality is that many social platforms generate significant revenue by promoting regular posts, so there’s no reason to shy away from leveraging the same strategy to expand your reach.

The crux lies in discerning which posts merit boosting and understanding the rationale behind it. If a post aligns with your brand’s aesthetic for ads but doesn’t quite capture its essence, it might be wise to postpone boosting it.

Moreover, if a post is already performing well organically, labeling it as “sponsored” could potentially undermine its credibility. Hence, considering your audience’s perception of ads is paramount.

Striking the right balance between paid and organic content entails maintaining authenticity with your audience and honoring their preferences. Ultimately, it’s about cultivating trust and ensuring your brand remains true to its identity.

Final Takeaways

Establishing authenticity hinges on consistency and providing value to your audience in a manner that aligns with their preferences through a chosen channel. Simply following your competitors’ lead holds little significance in this pursuit.

If your target customers aren’t active on a particular platform, or if engaging with them doesn’t facilitate meaningful assistance, the decision to invest in that channel or nurture a community there boils down to one crucial question: How authentically can you engage with your customers while remaining true to your brand identity?

Original news from SearchEngineJournal