Care, Transparency, and Authenticity Sustain Relationships
Author: Claire Riggs, Managing Partner
In continuing our discussion on the trust deficit in our traditional and digital media, let’s consider what impacts the buyer to act on our marketing messages.
As you may know, I teach an undergraduate Strategic Communication Overview course at Rowan University and the spring semester enables me to incorporate exciting insights on the annual Super Bowl advertising showcase. A tweet from Front Office Sports highlighted that “multiple 30-second ads for this year’s game went for over $7 million per slot. Rates are up over 20% since the last time NBC hosted the Super Bowl in February of 2018, and 40% of the advertisers are new.” While most of our clients don’t have anywhere near that ad spend, the creative energies expended to ensure value for these brands’ investment provide lessons that we all can use.
Another interesting fact is that, while the use of celebrities in these costly ads is still prominent, brands are increasingly turning to influencers or those who gain celebrity status on social media sites to help sell their products. Surveys show that consumers trust influencers over celebrities. As explained in this QuestionPro article, “influencer marketing, (the promotion and selling of products or services through people who have the capacity to affect the consumer’s spending habits) is based on the trust and respect the consumer has built with an influencer. Data from MuseFind shows 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.”
Just as with any marketing plan, when using influencers, you must keep in mind your target market. In a MarketingBrew article about the increasing use of influencers in Super Bowl ads, Matt Zuvella, VP of marketing and ops at influencer agency FamePick, notes “Influencers aren’t going to attract the older demographics. Our parents aren’t going to know who Charli D’Amelio is. So it just really depends on what product you’re advertising.”
So, what lessons can we learn from these Super Bowl ads? What impacts buyers to act on these ads? It really goes back to the basics of strategically selecting your message, audience, and channel to achieve your campaign objectives. I’ll expound below, with the help of a few of my favorite millennial and Gen Z social media gurus.
The Confidence is in the Messenger
Influencers have built their followings by becoming trusted messengers. “We consumers have relationships with these influencers. We’ve read their content and watched their videos for years, tried all their DIY’s and purchased everything they slapped their name on. While you can’t pay for that kind of loyalty, you CAN take the time to seek out influencers—bloggers, YouTubers, social stars, etc.— who are already vested in and passionate about the services your industry provides (you may find someone already talking about your company!) and partner with them to directly tell your target market exactly what you want them to know, through a source they already trust. I mean really, does it get any better than that?”— Taryn Riggs, Marketing Specialist
As a small business owner, you may not know the first step in harnessing the power of a nationwide influencer. But, guess what? Influencers are merely consumers with a platform. Your happy, satisfied clients ARE your influencers. Just give them a platform on which to shout it. Start sharing customer testimonials and case studies as proof you genuinely care for your customers’ well-being.
The Audience Requires Authenticity
We’ve already shared that influencers work best with younger demographics, but here’s some other interesting statistics about the influencer audience:
- 86% of Women Use Social Media for Purchasing Advice
- 49% of Consumers Depend on Influencer Recommendations
- 82% of People Trust Social Networks to Guide Purchasing Decisions
- 60% of Consumers Have Been Influenced by Social Media or a Blog While Shopping at a Store
“People trust influencers more than they trust companies because influencers are more personable and relatable to the audience. Their emotions, values, and culture are constantly put on full display for the world to see and people love this. Also, audiences believe they know influencers inside out, which allows them to trust them and their recommendations. Last, a company needs to make sure that the influencer they choose reflects the core values and ideals of the company. If not, this could cause a problem for the company.” — Nate DuBois, Social Media Coordinator
Even if you don’t use an influencer to reach your audience, it’s critical to do the research to know everything you can about your customers, clients, and/or community. Understanding that organic content is more trusted than sponsored content, find ways to build authentic relationships with them that earn you a recall when they are in need of your products and services. For many, social media is a means to develop authentic relationships for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
Trust Requires Transparency
“Trust is a key element of the influencer-consumer relationship. Without it, influencer marketing doesn’t really work. With that said, there are a couple of factors that can compromise the strength of this relationship.
- Sponsored Ads – by offering money and other incentives to influencers to promote their products/services, paid sponsorships challenge the integrity of the Influencer Marketing strategy and taint the overall credibility of participating Influencers. Consumers value the influencer’s true opinion. They need to believe in the influencer to buy into what they are promoting. Consumers can often tell when influencers are not being genuine about the products and services they are selling. They can see a money grab from a mile away.
- Paid Followers/New account promotion schemes – Unfortunately, there are several ways in which individuals or companies can buy followers to boost their page reach, creating a false “influencer status”. On paper, these accounts will have a high follower count (ex. 50,000); however, many of these accounts are bot and spam accounts. Furthermore, they can use their purchased following to leverage this ’promotional influence’ to others for profit.
For example, a recent social media client of Riggs Creative Group who is promoting her book received several DMs with offers to review her book. However, most failed to mention upfront that there was a fee involved.
How do we combat these trust issues? Transparency. Instagram has made recent strides to improve the consumer-influencer relationship by labeling sponsored ads and partnerships. Influencers must do the same to maintain their credibility with their followers.” — Jeanelle Johnson, Communication and Social Media Strategist
Choose Channels Carefully
In years past, Super Bowl ads were showcased on Super Bowl Sunday. You stayed glued during that BIG event so as not to miss any of them. More recently, and especially with influencer marketers and their social media following, ads have become events themselves with pre-, during, and post- coverage through integrated campaigns.
According to Digital Marketing Institute, Facebook is currently the most influential social media network, followed closely by YouTube. It takes continuous education on the latest social media channels to ensure your brand is where it’s supposed to be. Not surprisingly, a recent survey shows trust of channels vary by demographics. The article advises, “Before you start investing in a platform because you think it’s perceived as authentic, keep in mind not everyone has the same idea of what makes for genuine social media content. Being a brand with an authentic mission helps, but so does the channel where your content lives.”
Aim for Authentic Relationships
It’s no argument that influencers influence purchase decisions, but so do authentic relationships. Many small to mid-size companies and organizations credit their growth to word-of-mouth and referrals. As noted earlier, it’s important to capture these stories and share them through testimonials and case studies.
If you’re not in a position to engage an influencer to support your campaign, choosing to consistently place persuasive and transparent messages before your audience and giving them a platform to share their feedback is a strategic approach to build and sustain your authentic relationships.