Maddie Raedts is Co-Founder & CCO at IMA || Forbes 30 Under 30
Most brands and marketers already know that a key element of a successful online presence is to understand your audience. Having informed and detailed information about who you want to target can assure that the content you create resonates with them much better. As a result, you can improve your brand perception, customer loyalty and boost your conversion rates.
That’s why you should keep track of the content your audience appreciates and interacts with the most, to ensure optimal social media presence in a holistic manner, which will serve as a bridge between the content you produce and the sales you make. But make sure to be paying constant attention, as the digital world is a fast-paced environment, and what audiences appreciate and even expect in the social media landscape is always evolving.
Not so long ago, for example, content used to be highly curated and edited for the most part. It looked editorialized, aspirational and “perfect.” Nowadays, while we can still see this type of content around, audiences appreciate relatable, real and less far-fetched content much more, and posts that are too distant from reality tend to be scrutinized.
As a matter of fact, content is evolving once again, and new changes to the social media and influencer marketing industry are already on their way.
Audiences Are Becoming More Demanding On Social Media
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Because of all the events unfolding in 2020, audiences are moving to educate themselves on social justice and environmental issues while at the same time acknowledging that social media plays an important role in the content they consume daily, therefore heavily influencing their references.
For this reason, they are starting to become more critical about the content shared by the brands they follow — a flow started out by Gen Z, fostered by the coronavirus pandemic, and now turbo-boosted by the recent movements claiming for more equality, diversity and inclusion. They want their social media circle to be an extension of who they are and what they believe in.
But that’s not all. Followers expect brands to acknowledge their authority and adopt a lead position on conversations around important topics. This means not only that you should take a stance but also that empty words just aren’t enough anymore. Your audience expects you to be active in contributing and making a difference in the world.
Even though this sounds intimidating, in reality, these actions don’t have to be big — it’s all about recognizing unconscious biases, rethinking old behaviors, partnering with the right people and taking small steps to reflect this change.
However, it’s important that these efforts come from a place of authenticity, instead of a desire of merely jumping on the bandwagon just to a part of the conversation. A good starting point is, for example, reassessing things that need to be changed within the company before speaking up externally. Let your teams know what you stand for and engage them in a conversation about the changes that need to be made and how you can achieve this together. By starting internally, not only will you be able to mature your positioning before going public, but most importantly, you will have concrete actions that speak on your behalf.
The Right Influencers Can Move Your Brand In The Right Direction
To adapt to this new cultural landscape, there’s no magic formula; you need to start the transformation from within.
By attaching your brand narrative to influencers who already practice what you intend to preach, you can start moving the direction of your brand’s image before the eyes of your audience. The influencers you choose to work with can carry the message that you want to convey for you. And, what’s more, choosing to work with these people is already a message in itself, as it shows that instead of only storytelling, you are also “storydoing.”
Influencers can help define your brand into a persona, making it look more humanized and relatable. You will have someone to personify your values and what you stand for, a personal translation of your message with different ways of telling it that appeal to a huge range of audiences. This also allows you to foster personal connections that are much deeper and aligned.
Nonetheless, you have to keep in mind that people on social media are becoming savvier and more socially minded by the day, so it’s crucial that your influencer selection is aligned with your (new) values, rather than relying on influencers just to put you in a better light. Otherwise, this inconsistency will be passed on to your audiences, and you’ll risk coming across as inauthentic.
Authenticity in influencer selections is more complex than it sounds, but it basically means that you have to find the talents that match your brand harmoniously. So, the creators you work with have to be the right fit not only for the product or service you want to promote but also for your brand story, and not the other way around.
Start off by defining where your brand is and where it’s moving to, and you will be able to see more clearly the influencer personas that are right for the message you want to convey. Then, narrow down the pool of available creators by assessing whether you can seamlessly visualize your brand in their feeds, always making sure to analyze if their metrics are the right ones for your goals. These steps will ensure that you have a strong selection of influencers that are authentically aligned with your brand values and purpose.
All in all, as what you stand for starts gaining more and more weight in customers’ decisions regarding where to buy from, partnering with influencers can be a fast test-and-learn approach to start adapting your brand strategy and make it more relevant to what audiences expect from brands now and in the future.