The advent of digital connectivity has given way to a culture of transparency in all walks of life and industries
Because of this shift to a more transparent way of life, business has become much less about impressive ads and selling an (often fictional) dream and more about effective brand representation and expression, the latter which is becoming less and less taboo and more necessary for business success.
So, what does this have to do with vulnerability? Everything and then some.
I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.
– Howard Schultz
Why vulnerability has become important for brands
Over the past decade, influencers have taken over in a way that no one saw coming, with consumers relating to influencers more than large corporations.
Influencers are “regular” people and it’s this willingness to be vulnerable, to open up, express themselves and show us a bit more of who they are that we love and are drawn to.
This, unfortunately, hasn’t played out very well for corporations for two reasons. We don’t expect corporations to be perfect. After all, they’re filled with regular people. But where influencers are sometimes more open and honest, corporations are used to hiding problems and covering up.
In addition, corporations aren’t used to expressing opinions like influencers do. Most (not all) corporations worry that doing so will alienate potential customers. However, influencers know that doing so just invigorates their followers and makes them more fervent– being opinionated is good for their business.
How you can use vulnerability to help your brand thrive
Here are a few tips for helping your brand thrive using greater transparency and vulnerability:
1. Focus on your niche and know your customers
Influencers know their customers because, well, they’re them. As an influencer, they attract people who are very much like them, whether they offer makeup tutorials on YouTube or teach writing via their blog.
When they release a product to monetize their brand, it’s already directly in line with their audience. However, sometimes brands get this wrong and offer endorsements that make no sense whatsoever. When your favorite gamer has a promo spot about debt relief (or a similar scenario), you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Trying to reach a broader audience is possible but only if it makes sense for your brand. Knowing your brand on a fundamental level and expressing that through your marketing, advertising, and social outreach is what’s really important.
If you can reach a broader audience through being yourself, great. If you feel like you need to change the brand into something it’s not, or offer a product, marketing, or advertising that doesn’t align with the brand to do so, you’re looking for trouble.
2. Seek to create content that your customers can relate to through storytelling
Your content online is an opportunity to connect with potential customers. If you’re creating something that doesn’t interest your base and compel them emotionally, it’s a missed opportunity.
Influencers naturally have storytelling on their side because they speak from experience and that experience is powerful because people can relate to it This is difficult for brands to do, but storytelling is something anyone can use to their advantage.
This is great news because when it comes to expressing what your brand is about, nothing is more effective, raw, and honest than good-old storytelling. Just make sure it’s something connected to your brand’s values.
There’s another form of vulnerability we’ve yet to touch on– the willingness to connect directly.
This is something celebrities have a hard time doing, for obvious security reasons. However, influencers are often adept at staying connected with their fans and customer base through social, comments on YouTube and other platforms, and even answering emails directly.
Most brands can’t offer this kind of direct engagement with founders and CEOs, however, they can offer the next best thing: a simple response. When people post comments on your social media and send you emails, they don’t typically expect a response back. That’s just how it is with companies.
But by making sure you engage directly over social, with a social media manager that actually knows what your brand stands for and can respond to comments so people know their voices are heard, you have the opportunity to not only impress your followers– because they never expected a response anyway– but also to build your brand in the face of the users who will look through your comment section and see that your company is thoughtful enough to respond to comments directly.
This kind of vulnerability can go a long way