Activating brands and connecting with customers has seen a dramatic change in recent years, certainly with large corporations now understanding that the battle for consumer hearts and minds is now in their pockets. Where at one time a brand was created, its assets and guidelines provided to advertising agencies, they then created campaigns to be advertised through conventional channels, today it’s a different story. People now view posts from their phone or computer through their social networks, they watch videos created by community colleagues, purchase and then review. Their first physical interaction is when it is delivered to their house, and from here they review and post online – a new cycle for consumer engagement.
Today, and I say today as I know this is changing rapidly, but right now the influencers are building the connections to big brands, they are what sells products and services. What has been proven is that much smaller investment into influencers via social media channels has much bigger impacts on profitability than vast amounts of investment into advertising.
This is interesting, it means right now people trust what people are saying on social networks, it means that these are powerful opportunities for brands to connect in cost effective ways. Of course, this can only last as long as people trust that they are being sold products from genuine opinions, and that the influencer isn’t being ‘influenced’ by funding, no matter what that payment would be.
Of course, there are lots of micro (or macro) influencers, the local blogger, the mum who purchased a new child water bottle that she loves and tells all her friends. But what this means is that the influencer, as long as they have few followers, are the ones that people will start to trust, and then of course people will be looking for opinions based on a small amount of followers. Of course this is complicated, and there are many things to consider, for example, there is a whole new spate of brands not using social networks and influencers to promote their products, but actually to create bad publicity for their competitors – wow, yes it is complicated and even rather dark.
The learning here for me though is this; connections to consumers has changed, and it will continue to evolve, however what is imperative is honesty, trust and the need for virtuous brands that live and breath what they are about, as above the effect of social influencers is brand, and brand start from within, they effect the product, the innovation path that a product takes, it effects staff, experience and eventually consumers opinion, and when brands get it wrong, if they have clear consciences, it becomes simply taking back learnings and make things even better. The result is a better brand, better experiences, better consumer opinion, better reputations, bigger profitability, greater shareholder value.