One of the fundamental rules to social media for brands is “keeping it human.” That is, a Twitter account should look like it is run by a human, and not a robot. It should have personality, depth, interactivity, and responsiveness. Essentially, community managers must ensure they “keep it real.”
People don't want to interact with a faceless brand, especially via social networks. They want to interact with a brand as if it were a person. People like real. And, the more real a brand comes, the easier it is to bond to it, and establish a “consumer relationship.”
Some brands fail at this. Others try, but it comes off as hollow and feigned, which is perhaps even worse than not trying altogether. Consumers have a good way of sniffing out B.S., even if on a sub-conscious level.
However, women’s magazine Marie Claire is taking this principle to its models, replacing the "fake" runway cutouts with real women. The May issue of Marie Claire@Work, a supplement sent to women in the top-10 markets along with 100,000 newsstand copies, will feature members of the Marie Claire Career Network on LinkedIn. The magazine will also feature ads from Buick, White House Black Market, and Mustela that include women from Marie Claire’s LinkedIn network, too.
“We’re about being approachable,” Michele Zeiss, assistant advertising manager for General Motors, told AdWeek regarding their decision. “So we’re looking for real people that the readers can identify with and not so much the celebrity who makes millions of dollars.”
And, in a fashion industry that has recently come under scrutiny for its unrealistic portrayal of women through digital manipulation (for example, see this disaster in Voguefrom last August), Marie Claire’s use of non-model models is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Consumers know that the difference between advertised reality and actual reality is usually quite vast. The hamburgers that come out on the tray rarely, if ever, look like the hamburgers on the menu. Even Apple has taken heat for unrealistic portrayals of its famed “Siri” application on the iPhone 4S. So, when consumers are given something truly authentic, they appreciate not being treated like complete idiots.
Yes, there is a time and place for framed reality, and no, brands shouldn’t show everything there is to see about what they do (remember the popular aphorism that nobody wants to see how sausages are made). However, brands could benefit from finding opportunities to inject a little authentic authenticity into their marketing.