2019: The year of transparency and authenticity
With consumer trust lower than ever, brands in 2019 will have to rethink their approach to social, placing increased emphasis on both transparency and authenticity. After Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica crisis, consumers have increasingly questioned the value such networks provide. Alongside these issues with privacy, many new features have entered the scene such as Live stories and one-to-one messaging. This evolution has meant that social media has become a platform for real, personal and authentic interaction and connections. However, how do brands adapt to this and create authenticity on these platforms?
Facebook, alongside other platforms, has been thrown under the spotlight with increasing pressure from users to improve security, transparency and accuracy. According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report, 60 percent of people no longer trust social media companies. In fact, people have become suspicious of many media or celebrity influencers and are increasingly looking to immediate friends, families and acquaintances on social, as well as trusted media news outlets.
As a result, in 2019 brands will need to focus on increasing the reach of posts but also creating genuine and transparent engagement. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, with the same post copied on every network, misses the mark. It’s time for audience-specific messaging in 2019. This goes hand-in-hand with personalisation. No one wants to feel like another ‘number’, they want to interact with a brand that has taken the time to truly understand them as an individual. For example, companies like Adidas are focusing on building an intimate and meaningful dialogue with smaller groups. The company built ‘squads’ of micro-influencers to connect with customers at a local level, who then share insightful content. As a result, this ‘micro-influencer model’ which focuses on authenticity over reach, has earned more engagement for the brand from customers.
Aside from personalisation, consumers enjoy being the first to know about a deal or part of a small group that knows a secret. For brands with a public group which anyone can access, that special element is lost. Closed groups, however, can be found through searches but require admin permission to join which adds a layer of intrigue. There are also secret groups - invisible and unsearchable which can only be accessed with an invite from a current member. For the right brand, this secret group can be an effective way to create an aura of exclusivity and can help brands make meaningful connections on platforms.
Be the expert
With new features and tools being launched, the brands that take a proactive and open-minded approach will reap the rewards. For example, the growth in ‘Live’ video on platforms like Facebook can help followers feel that the content they are viewing is authentic and ‘in the moment’. Using features like this to provide expert commentary and education tips will be invaluable to followers. For the British Museum, which has to keep millions of followers around the world engaged and excited about its collections, the answer was to create Facebook Live videos. Hosted by curators, these videos cover everything from their Scythians exhibit to a series on conserving Vulture Peak to provide the in-depth information their followers wish to see.
Whilst this year has been a tumultuous one for social media platforms, brands can continue to work with consumers and helps rebuild trust on various networks with the content they provide and how they share it. Whether it’s Live videos and educational content or tapping into the micro-influencer community, being transparent and authentic in 2019 will be the secret to a brand’s success on social media next year.
Rob Coyne is the General Manager EMEA of Hootsuite
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