Consumers are constantly bombarded with reams of content across their day, but what content and sources do consumers seek out, trust and find influential. Q+H attended an insightful panel event discussing “Brands in the Age of Authenticity” hosted by Stackla, who have developed a social content marketing platform that puts user-generated content (UGC) at the heart of brand marketing.
In Stackla’s 2017 consumer content report, Influence in the Digital Age, the research concluded 60% of consumers say UGC is the most authentic form of content, and 86% say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Stackla surveyed 2000 adults in the UK, US and Australia, examined the content being created and shared online, plus what influences consumers’ purchasing decisions.
Other key stats include 57% of consumers think less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic and nearly 60% of Millenials have made travel plans based on an image or video they saw a friend post on social media and a similar figure have visited a restaurant for the same reason.
We heard from, Duncan Robertson, MD from Busabout, a hop-on hop-off travel company. They have harnessed the real stories about what people do on their tours and took a decision to only use UGC pictures to promote their brand on their website and in their brochure. From a logistical point of view this was more difficult than writing a brief for a photographer, as they didn’t know when and what images they were going to get. Additionally, it is a time consuming and sometimes painful process to get all the image rights signed off. However, the image content they are using is now highly authentic, not staged, plus they are reaping the benefits gained from that authenticity with their customers telling the brand story.
The creative network Iris, was represented by their MD, Matthew Kershaw, and he spoke about the Adidas GLITCH project. This encouraged users to submit content to help design a new boot. GLITCH was highly successful and produced a huge amount of content. Adidas, a huge global brand, took the brave step of unmanaging their brand and trusted their consumers to embrace, engage and create – that is real authenticity, even though it isn’t polished or pristine in some cases.
The discussion also moved to the elephant in the room, the influencers, who brands pay to review, promote and interact with their products. It is a great way for brands to reach a certain target audience who follow these influencers, and there is a need for it, but in no way is it authentic.
With social media now a way of life for the majority of us, there are huge opportunities for all brands who have not explored how to harness this authenticity and their advocates. What is important is building this into an overall strategy and not just publish everything, keeping it real, relevant and believable, otherwise consumers will see through it and it will not be credible. Those brands that curate the content and blend the authenticity with their own brand experience will be the most successful.