This articles was also published in the Business Daily
Today’ consumer behaviour has fundamentally changed. The millennial generation has changed the way we do business. This generation has not only influenced how products are packaged but how they are marketed.
In less than a decade, everyone is rethinking on how we to advertise their products; how to communicate without being intrusive- brands are no longer riding on billboards to launch their campaigns. Instead, everyone is directly engaging with the consumers or get them through their peers.
In 2015 alone, there were over 2.5 million Facebook posts and 277,000 Tweets. Moreover, 347,000 photos were shared through WhatsApp and Instagram. Without a doubt, marketers can no longer afford to ignore online platforms and in App Messaging considering that users remained connected for 23,300 hours during that year.
But amid this content explosion, consumers and product manager alike are turning to peers and recognized voices online to inform purchase decisions whilst closing an eye on branded content and advertising.
Already, innovative marketers have shifted their investment focus to social media and the more disruptive and collaborative brand communications tactics as priority investments. The aim is to cut through the noise and deliver lasting impact on the relevant authoritative conversations for their products.
As we start planning for the 2017 budgets, brand managers the world over have to figure out how their brands can effectively future-proof their marketing strategy and spend and reshape brand communications activities to cross the chasm towards social media driven sales initiatives.
People trust people over brands. 77 per cent of consumers say they do not want to have a direct relationship with a brand, according to the Harvard Business Review. Consequently, word of mouth, peer recommendation and review culture are powerful and are here to stay: we look to each other and to our favourite digital personalities on Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and other social platforms to be informed about the experience of a product or brand prior to purchase. And the influence is considerable.
With consumers spending more time on social media every day, it is only natural that all increase their social media presence both through paid and non-paid forms. However this rapid flight of brands craving to tap into the social media frenzy has led to considerable lack of interest from consumers in branded content. The millennial can sniff branded content and discard it with a click; hence the need to have a strategy anchored on strategic partnerships with social media influencers.
While this shift continues to challenge marketers across the board, it at the same time creates a new art form and platform for creative young minds to light the way for future content development and monetization. Through this new form of marketing, influencers ranging from musicians, actors and other mentors that the millennial generation look up to can now capitalize on their influence to earn revenues from their art forms.
By co-creating content directly with social media influencers—that is to say providing the right kind of assets and opportunities for influencers to share and create relevant messages—brands will be able to amplify their presence in the right way, targeting the conversations that their audience is interested in.
As communicators we are cognizant of the fact that conversations and engagement are created by a very small number of people within each conversation topic: and it is the top 3 per cent of social media commentators who drive 90 per cent of the impact.
Indeed, influencer marketing isn’t just an alternative to traditional media activities —it’s turning the traditional model completely on its head. It’s a longer-term investment that requires a structured approach and time to onboard the right influencers, and together, to generate the right kind of content that they can tailor and that will resonate. But the impact is laudable and delivers invaluable consumer data and a brand voice that is deeply persuasive, engaging and palatable to the consumer.