5 Tips to Leverage Authenticity in Your Brand
The Shift Toward Authentic Content & Why It’s Important
Can you hear them? Advertisers are desperately trying to reach you.
And they’re not using sales pitches – they know you’re annoyed with pop-ups. And forget cable TV – they already know you’d rather be Netflix and chilling.
Instead, they’re talking to you the way you also talk to those closest to you: casual DMs, social media, and emojis.
It makes sense why this would be effective. Common cultural motifs, like text messages and emojis, make us feel like we’re being communicated with, not advertised to. It’s all a part of an emerging digital trend that focuses on integrity and authenticity in advertising. Advertisers know that if they want a chance of reaching their audience, they have to get on their level.
Understanding why this trend emerged can help us – as both consumers and marketers – understand how to best put it to use. Following the 2016 U.S. election and widespread clamor about “fake news” in our media, Facebook implemented a series of changes to quell accusations that it was facilitating fake news. Among such changes was a modification to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm to prioritize “authentic” content and squash anything it deems sensational, misleading, or spammy. Enter: the current swing toward the exact opposite.
However, the shift toward authentic content is more than two years old. Studies show that younger individuals are more discerning when it comes to online advertising and, frankly, have less patience for it. There’s been a notable influx in ad blockers and privacy extensions in recent years as our technology progressively encroaches on our personal lives. And the word “clickbait” has emerged, newly popularized as a pejorative term to describe a misleading article or a scam.
So, how do we “in the biz” reach an already distrustful audience? The answer is simple: Blend in with their peers.
Take Advantage of Chat Bots
Chat bots, otherwise known as “the messenger app that pops up suspiciously fast when you’re thinking of leaving a website,” are common practice. Chat bots can help provide excellent customer service and answer common questions on your website. They can boost conversion rates and are often cheaper than hiring a full-time customer service employee.
In fact, the personal finance app Cleo operates entirely through Facebook Messenger, giving an informal feel to a traditionally serious topic and offering comical quips when someone hasn’t responded in a while. Just like a friend, frankly.
Why are chat bots so effective? They use modern communication pathways to put users in a familiar setting and leverage that security to drive conversions.
Know Your Demographic
Knowing your demographic is key — it will allow you to hone in on a specific audience, creating an authentic and helpful experience. Imagine, as a consumer, seeing an ad for something you’d never buy. Would you feel like your advertisers knew you at all?
Here’s where you are most likely to find specific age groups:
The very young: Snapchat — 90% of U.S. users are between the ages of 13-24.
The relatively young: Instagram — 75% of all users are between the ages of 18 – 24.
The not-as-young: Facebook — 84% of users are between the age of 30 – 49.
Keep in mind that certain messaging is best suited for certain platforms. For example, long-form text descriptions may perform better on Facebook, where individuals are more likely to spend time reading and considering them. Instagram, as a visual platform, would best serve short, snappy descriptions.
Use this information to target the right demographic, and your users will respond positively your ads that are relevant and useful to them!
Leverage Testimonials (Especially Video)
Ever read Amazon reviews or watch a product review before you take the plunge? You’re not alone. A Google report shows that 82% of smartphone users consult reviews on their phone for purchases they’re about to make.
Unscripted and unsolicited testimonials are perhaps some of the most powerful tools brands have available to because they appeal to our viewers’ emotions. When we see a person visibly happy or relieved because a product has changed their life, we are hardwired to feel those emotions, too.
Better yet, use video testimonials — video has a 95% retention rate compared to text. Our brains respond much more effectively to the sights and sounds of a person’s reaction while they’re feeling a particular emotion.
Emoji use isn’t always appropriate, but many ads have implemented it effectively. Emojis let your users know that they’re in a safe and familiar space by mimicking the way a friend would talk to them.
Outside of digital ads, emoji use has been proven highly effective in email marketing. Fifty-six percent of brands using emojis in their subject lines had a higher open rate, according to Campaign Monitor. If you’re unsure if you should use an emoji, trying conducting an A/B test. Keeping all else the same, test a subject line with and without emojis. Chances are you’ll see higher open rates on your emoji version.
Don’t Let Your Advertising Get in the Way
Don’t let your advertising get in the way of the message you’re trying to convey. You have a great product or service to offer, and if you target the right person, your ads will convert rather than annoy. Aim to create ads that look like organic pieces of content rather than that scream “I AM AN AD AND GET PAID FOR THIS CLICK!”
If you are having trouble identifying what attracts customers to your product or service, consider using a tool like Google Surveys to get more information. Next: Hire a marketing team that will dive deep into the best ways to market and will create stunning and effective ads.
And when all else fails, be authentic. After all, a human is a human, no matter if you’re behind the marketing strategy or behind the screen scrolling through these ads – we’re all looking for the same things.