Defining Authentic Content

"Be authentic" is popular advice for using social media. But this attribute is not only applicable to social media content. All web content needs authenticity. So what does that mean? How does that requirement fit within a content strategy? How do you plan for authenticity?

In a video interview with host Erik Michielsen of Capture Your Flag, Simon Sinek provides the most tangible description and defined value of authenticity I’ve heard. For your web content, this means accurately portraying your brand—not just talking about what you do but how and why you do it. The more your website conveys the culture, values and activities of your institution, the more it’s able to support your goals by catering to relevant, valuable visitors.

What authenticity means is the things you say and the things you do you actually believe. … When you only say and only do the things you actually believe, people will trust you. And when you don’t say the things you believe—you’re just trying to get some sort of short-term behavior—people won’t trust you. So, the importance and value of being authentic is that it’s in your long-term interest that people will support you and stand by you. People will put up with your failures. People will help you for no other reason than it helps them.

Source: How Authentic Behavior Builds Trust and Creates Support by Simon Sinek, Interview with Erik Michielsen, Capture Your Flag, November 20, 2009

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About Rick Allen

Rick Allen has worked in higher education for over twelve years, helping to shape web communications and content strategy. As principal of ePublish Media, Inc, a web publishing and content strategy consultancy in Boston, Mass., Rick works with knowledge-centric organizations to create and sustain effective web content. Keep going »

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