Is authenticity the biggest non-issue in content marketing?

I somewhat randomly came across this tweet by Christoph Trappe earlier today:

And it seriously has me scratching my head.

But before I dive into the problems with the article, I want to say that I fully appreciate that Christoph is running an Authentic Storytelling project. I have a wonderful cousin who’s been helping people tell their authentic stories for years and seriously love this kind of work.

However, it seems to me that sometimes people get so ingrained in their perspective that they can get lost to the bigger picture and I fear that’s what’s happen to Christoph in this article: IF YOU ARE TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO POST OR NOT TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA: KNOCK IT OFF!!!  where it seems like he’s trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

So, let’s get started…

He gives an example as to why social media employee advocacy programs don’t work:

Stage 1: Executives: “I want employees to share things on social media.”

Stage 2: They do.

Stage 3: That same executive: “I don’t like their authenticity. Please make it stop.”

I have been actively involved in numerous employee advocacy programs, and not one of them has ever gone through those three stages.

The most comment flow has been along the lines of:

Stage 1: Executives: “I want employees to share things on social media.”

Stage 2: Employees share two or three corporate articles and quickly lose interest. Executives see little evidence of success and also lose interest

Setting a program up that encourages employees to engage is a much more difficult problem to solve than worrying about employees being “authentic.”

Don’t get me wrong, in running corporate social media teams, I’ve had issues with employees being “too authentic,” but it’s almost always an issue with employees being self-destructive and not because they weren’t toeing the corporate line. The “too authentic” situations I’ve had to deal with involve employees who clearly identify their place of work and then post photos of themselves naked or using excessive alcohol/drugs or posting suicidal thoughts.

What I haven’t seen is executives get frustrated because employees are not following the corporate message on social media. Inevitably, my experience has been that executives spend way too much time on the run-up to the launch of an employee advocacy program devising ways to “control” employee messaging instead of thinking through how they can encourage engagement in the first place.

So, yes, employers worry about authenticity before the launch of a campaign, but it’s just not ever been a major issue after the launch of a campaign.

Assuming I still have your attention, I have launched one employee advocacy program that was an all-around success in that we had high engagement from hundreds of employees over a sustained amount of time. The LinkedIn team did a great case study on the program and let me write a guest post on how we approached the creation of the program: How Dun & Bradstreet Uses Employee Advocacy to Boost Influencer Marketing.

Hopefully, it’s clear that I fully appreciate the Christoph’s mission to encourage authentic storytelling and I’m trying to do my part to encourage content marketers to focus on creating engaging content and worry less about trying to control the message, which is an authentic approach I hope Christoph will appreciate. 🙂