Brands are authentic. It’s the people who manage them who are not. So let’s stop trying to find the “authenticity” for goodness sake. (It’s like all those people talking about ROI. Guess what? They aren’t getting any.)
I suspect the reason the word authentic has been used and abused (Walt Clyde Frasier) to excess is because of social media — where anyone and her cousin are allowed to post on behalf of brands; mostly, tyro community managers fresh out of school with dexterous social fingers. (Interview question: “How many Facebook friends do you have?”). If social media were medicine, pre-meds students would be treating patients and everyone would be coughing and wheezing. Ever hear of an inauthentic doctor?
I’m not going all old school on you or anti-digital native; there are a number of smart young community managers out there learning their craft on the job and applying thoughtful analytics to social media. But the winners understand brand strategy, not just tactics. And you won’t find them spouting off about authenticity. They are more likely to be talking about specific expressions of brand fundies (1 idea 3 planks), things the brand is good at and things consumers want.
Social media is an important component of the marketing mix; never more so. So let’s use it correctly and it will lift the craft.