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Ideas circulate on the blogosphere with a ferocity that can surprise us all. Often our response or reaction can be immediate and visceral -- while at other times we need a little longer to reflect on what we read, see or hear....




This week I watched a video that made me pause for thought. This piece of user-generated content had confounded me, and I did not know where to look.


I knew that I needed to give this more consideration. And as I returned to this piece in the following days, I began to realize that there was a very deep question at the very heart of this topic -- what is authenticity -- and how and who is the judge?


User-generated content is often seen as being more authentic than materials developed by brands and agencies as part of their marketing efforts. Sometimes there is a freshness and energy to user-generated content ... sometimes it is irreverence. And at other times, it is simply funny.


Watching this piece made me smile at first. The guitar playing was very good, and there was a real earnestness in the singing that surprised me. I could not, at first, place the song ... it sounded like something that I knew but it felt alien to me ... and then I realized it was U2's One.


And by the time I got towards the end of the song, I felt compromised, confused. Out of touch with what I was seeing and hearing.


Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same?


Authenticity speaks to our emotions. It gets under our skin. And the brands that we love, that we consider authentic, are those that speak to us on this emotive and instinctive level. It is what we seek in a blog ... a voice that echoes or resonates in our heads and hearts.


Can this be manufactured? Of course! The Lonelygirl115 experience was a great example.


It strikes me that it is the readers or viewers who determine authenticity. This video did not work for me, but the performance got a standing ovation from the live crowd. Just take a look at the faces of the performers, look at the way that the crowd moves in rhythm with the strumming. There was something going on there.


The music and lyrical-reworking did not get under my skin (in the desired way), but it did have an impact. I caught the pop music and pop cultural references and this "cover" version captured some of the beauty of the original causing me to open up to the message. Perhaps, for me, this was hyper-authentic -- more real than real -- frighteningly so.


But, at the end of it all, I was left rather empty, unsatisfied. I DID NOT want more ... in fact, I wanted less.




one bank on Vimeo

As the lyrics say, "You gave me nothing, now it's all I got."


Special thanks to Ariel Waldman for pointing out this video.

Continue reading "Authenticity -- You Be the Judge" ... Read the full article

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gavin in VP & Principal Analyst with Constellation Research Group. He possesses extensive international experience in driving measurable outcomes via digital customer experience platforms, digital strategy and executing innovative content driven campaigns. With a background in enterprise technology innovation, digital strategy and customer engagement, Gavin connects the dots between disruptive technologies, enterprise governance and business leaders.

Most recently, Gavin led the customer experience, communication and social media programs for SAP's Premier Customer Network. And over the last 15 years, he has been at the forefront of innovative digital strategies for some of the world's leading companies - from IBM to Fujitsu - and on the agency side, leading the global digital strategy for McDonald's.


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