Is brand authenticity disrupting advertising?

As powerful as it is as a channel for brand awareness and even commerce nowadays, social media is very much a double-edged sword. The social masses can be ruthless to brands who make a misstep. No company, no matter how admired or beloved, is exempt, be it Gucci, Burger King or Peloton

Many brands are lucky to boast a strong core of loyal supporters and advocates who’ll stick with them beyond the controversy, but competition is never far behind. In this socially-powered generation of consumers, brands need to cultivate a persona that embraces authenticity, and this extends to their advertisements.

One study found that inauthentic content can be detrimental, prompting users to unfollow a brand. And a new survey of female consumers reveals that 84% of respondents prefer to see ads showing a diversity of body types, while 75% want to see different ethnicities. By taking an approach to marketing that is inclusive of their customer base rather than elitist, brands demonstrate that they "get" their audience, which is the first step in converting fans into customers.

How can brands get it right?

Showcasing customer photos in marketing is good for fans of a brand; it’s good for fellow shoppers; and it’s good for business.

The numbers back this up, and conversion rates increase because of user-generated content. The greatest impact was on Twitter, with a sevenfold increase in conversion rates because of user-generated content.

What can you do to help promote brand authenticity in your marketing? Here are three examples of success.

1. Share customer photos: By adding Instagram photos to its product pages, Vanity Planet saw a 24% increase in checkouts. That translated to $8,900 worth of additional income in 10 days. The impact of Instagram is significant far beyond its user base, and 72% of e-commerce customers say that Instagram photos of a product increase their likelihood of buying.

2. Build a tribe: Even if you have a niche audience, consumers will be loyal to brands that reflect their priorities. For example, Las Vegas-based grooming company Live Bearded earned what cofounder Anthony Mink called “raving fans” from a “Movember” social campaign that combined a beard-growing promotion with a donation commitment to help feed the hungry. The result was more than social loyalty; sales increased by 121% during the promotion.

3. Inspire authentic sharing: The brand Sol de Janeiro had a near takeover of social media with its product, Bum Cream. When the product was released on Sephora in 2016, it sold out in four days. When the company released a jumbo-sized version in 2018, it sold out in less than two hours. How did it go viral? Customers were so enthusiastic about the product that they organically liked, shared, posted, and reviewed. There’s still a lot of product love for #bumbumcream, with some users adding #NotAnAd to reinforce that their love is real.

A call for brands to be real

Picture-perfect ads have been losing steam for a while now. Instead, consumers are drawn to brands that are both relatable and authentic. Already a media darling, brands have a tremendous potential to build a stronger network of customer advocates with their users’ authentic content.

 

Tomer Tagrin is the co-founder and CEO of Yotpo, an integrated commerce marketing platform for brands like Steve Madden, Glossier and Esurance, an Allstate company.