he facts seem to be indisputable: authenticity has become one of the most important aspects for personas on social media. Originally, social media was created with the intent of showcasing you, your friends, and whatever you wanted in the moment. It quickly turned into a mechanism only showing the most curated reflections of people. This long-tail trend has created a saturation of media with finely-tuned details of everything, making it obvious when a photo wasn’t edited or taken with a film camera, for example. Although there is nothing wrong with putting different versions of yourself forward, it has caused rumblings in the social sphere, leaving audiences craving something else. Through all the high quality content, people started wanting to see something real.
THE RISE OF AUTHENTICITY ON YOUTUBE
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this shift happened, but it’s easier to track the changes in trends. For example, there was a defining shift on YouTube that occurred with the rise of stars like Emma Chamberlain – resulting in a new type of content that focused on day-in-my-life style vlogs, confessional videos with little make-up, “thrift with me” diaries and more.
Prior to creators like Emma Chamberlain, YouTube focused primarily on comedic content and parodies, which required a specific use of production quality, props and preparation to get everything in order for the full stunt.
For this new wave of authentic content, creators needed themselves and a video camera.
The relatability of these types of creators stems from the fact that viewers could see themselves directly involved in the creator’s lifestyle. For fashion creators that did try-on hauls, viewers could see themselves doing the exact same thing and having the exact same problems as the creators in the videos. Whether a dress was tighter than advertised or the pattern was a bit wonky, viewers could put themselves directly in the shoes of the creator, delivering a new sense of intimacy between creator and audience that grew deeper with every video. As the formula grew, so did the reactions people had towards this new style of content.
THE RISE OF AUTHENTICITY ON TIKTOK
TikTok has allowed, for the first time in a long time, content creators being directly seen as relatable for audiences, resulting in exponential growth over the course of a few years. This trend continued to grow and permeate other social media platforms like Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and now, TikTok.
Now, being authentic and transparent with audiences are two of the most important growth factors for influencers. Where some platforms have failed to meet certain standards of authenticity, TikTok is a new generation of relatability, sparking a new wave of creators that showcase different, unique aspects of their personalities. Because younger generations are the ones primarily using newer forms of social media like TikTok, it’s important to recognize how new demographics are engaging with the platform–and what they expect from their creators. Gen Z gravitates towards more transparency and authenticity with their creators, and TikTok is a prime example of what that means on a larger scale.
For viewers, this means finding creators that relate to you on virtually every level. From interests in cooking and anime to book reviews and plant care, TikTok naturally pairs users with content that speaks directly to them, creating opportunities for influencers to find their niches and audiences through authentic connections. TikTok also encourages users to showcase their personalities through visual effects, filters, challenges, trends and more – all allowing users to find who’s style of communication they relate to the best.
For influencers and creators, TikTok is an open slate for any sort of content. Because the app highlights short-form video content, creators are able to experiment in a variety of different formats and niches until they find something that sticks. It also creates the opportunity for creators to engage personally with their audiences across multiple features.
Through comments, duets, tagging and teaming up for collaborations, TikTok influencers are able to personalize their content with their audiences–encouraging them to continue their content production with brand partnerships, sponsorships and more. TikTok influencers invite their audiences into the deepest parts of their daily lives, and have cultivated an area of security because of it.
All of these different technical methods have set up influencers on TikTok for success, but what does authenticity mean for marketers?
WHAT MARKETERS CAN LEARN ABOUT AUTHENTICITY
The biggest trick to authenticity is being yourself.
For marketers and advertisers, it’s crucial to allow the creators you work with to let your brand integrate with their brand. The more seamless the integration, the more successful the partnership. For example, a creator that talks about thrift hauls and second-hand fashion would be a great partnership with brands that are sustainable, eco-friendly and recyclable because those are already cornerstones of that person’s individual brand–and therefore, the brand of their audience.
Authenticity allows viewers to understand the influencers and creators they watch on a more personal level. When done correctly, this can result in viewers trusting those creators more with the brands they use, products they endorse, and more. A good rule of thumb is this: the greater the authenticity of the creator, the more trusting their audience will be towards their choices.
For brands and marketers, this connection between creator and audience is unique and special, and should be treated as such. Brands should research different creators and learn about their niches in order to best serve the audiences of the creators. If care and respect is taken in influencer partnerships, the seamless transition between creator and brand will feel genuine for their audiences, and encourage more people to engage with your brand the same way the creator is.