One of the things that has always fascinated me about web sites and social media is that people often will upload a better version of themselves than what they really are.
I have seen some profiles from friends and colleagues where the photo is stylized and I know of one particular woman who Photoshops ALL photos before they go online.
The persona they adopt, the language that they use and the stories they tell can give you a different impression of who they are as well.
I was talking about this with some friends and someone mentioned they were disappointed in what they’d seen on social media from their friends – not because it was offensive or incorrect, but because it wasn’t the real them. And the person made the statement ‘it’s a shame that they aren’t more real because who they are is what makes them’.
So what does this philosophical rant mean for corporate web sites?
I have recently worked on a couple of corporate web sites, where it was obvious in the briefing meeting that the client wanted to portray on the web a better version of themselves.
Now while I completely agree that you should always put your best foot forward when promoting yourself, one of the things with these companies was that their success was built on the type of people they were and the way they did business. What they wanted to put on their web site didn’t reflect that. As a result, it wasn’t going to engage with prospective customers in the same successful way they engaged with people in the real world.
Since then, I’ve taken on two projects where we are very much working towards adding personality to the site and being as real as possible – to show a company warts and all on the web but then to take the next step to showing how a company fixing its shortcomings. The web site is about people … not product.
Surveys are showing how people’s trust of web sites is falling simply because people don’t just believe what they read on the web any more. One way to get around that is to be real – to show what your customers look like, how you help them and to remove the marketing fluff which tries to show something that you obviously aren’t.
And the pandemic is reducing people’s tolerance of corporate messages, and I’m finding that in conversation after conversation with different industries they’re telling me the same thing: people don’t read what they even suspect is a sales pitch. They want authenticity.
So if you want to meet your audience where they are, then being authentic in your online presence is an ideal way to do it.