It has become a truism and, perhaps, even a cliché to say that we work with and buy from people we trust and love. But that’s because we do. However, with the rise of fake news on social media and elsewhere and untrustworthy public figures, it has also become true to say that we buy from people we respect and those we feel are trustworthy. Those who are aligned with our core values and – increasingly – those who are purposeful and doing good business by being good. This includes social influencers, individuals and brands who are showing social goodness.
How COVID19 has accelerated the trend
COVID19 has accelerated this trend, with a recent study by EY showing that 45% of middle to high-income consumers in the UK believe that how they shop will have changed permanently, and 38% saying the same about what they will buy. They respond strongly to purposeful brands, with 62% saying they would be more likely to purchase from companies that they feel are doing good for society.
In addition, 29% would pay a premium for brands that contribute to the community and 42% for domestically produced goods. This means that showing that you are the right choice for this group of consumers is more important than ever. And putting your brand at the heart of your community (i.e. your clients and potential clients and people who will recommend you because they love you and what you do) is essential.
It all comes down to relationships. Having a relationship with someone means understanding how they feel, what they believe, what’s important to them, their dreams and fears. It also means knowing what they need and being able to provide it. As Douglas Burdett said in his Social Media Genius interview with Claire Burdett:
“Empathy is the most important word in sales and marketing”
How to NOT be a Trusted Brand
Even now, in 2020, we fall over example after example of brands putting their proverbial foot in their mouth. And then wondering why people don’t trust or like them:
- The small business owner posting racist ‘jokes’ on social media and wondering why his sales drop.
- The business promoting itself as ‘a community’ where everyone supports each other. However, it always cuts people off as soon as they stop paying.
- The radio station that won’t interview businesses on shows because “they should be paying for advertising not getting it for free”.
And this goes all the way up the scale.
- The gin company making a joke about it’s gin being the one of choice when ‘the looting starts’.
- The fashion corporation making a huge profit while not paying workers a living wage.
- Facebook being boycotted by advertisers because of hate speech.
Once people find out about bad behaviour, it grates. And it kills any warm fuzzy feelings of community stone dead because no one wants to promote or share or help businesses that behave badly. Interestingly, these types of behaviours have always been unlovely, but until the advent of social media most brands managed to hide them. No longer.
The Rise of Social Conscience
Consumers crave connectivity and authenticity and see through whitewash, badge-wearing and lip service, and refuse to play ball. Not just ignoring those brands but often actively calling them out, such we saw with the recent #payit Instagram campaign. We now have a whole new breed of social influencers who are organised and connected and using social media to make things happen. Coming soon to a brand near you, and it’s not just teens either. Though sometimes it is, as Trump found out.
It’s all About Trust
Who do you trust? People you know, mostly. Even if you haven’t ever met them so long as they share your values and views. This is why storytelling and myths are so central to culture. It is also why social influencers are so powerful. They become central to their communities because they share information, a story and world viewpoint that resonates with people. They empathise with their community who in turn feel that they know them and that they are understood. The result is that the influencer is a ‘trusted source’. And in order to become central to a community brands have to become trusted, just like a social influencer.
Which is why brands have become more and more inclined to use social influencer marketing to try and fast track their influence within communities. They hope that working with social influencers will mean the trust that the community feels for the influencer will be bestowed on the brand. Nothing wrong with this if it aligns and resonates with everyone involved i.e. influencer, customer and brand. It particularly needs to be aligned with the brand’s core values.
But quite often it doesn’t work like that.
Social Influencer Marketing
Social media influencer marketing has grown into a huge industry, worth about $20billion at the beginning of 2020 before global lockdown. Although it has obviously been hit by COVID19 it shows no sign of disappearing. It is still a worthwhile endeavor for brands looking to build trust to look at, so long as it is done properly.
However, it has always been a minefield for B2B and small businesses, which is where bloggers (see our resource guide for working with bloggers, below), micro influencers and B2B influencers come into their own.
A social media micro-influencer is someone who has less than 100,000 followers. Often a lot less: 1,000 – 10,000 is a new focus in many industries. They generally focus on a specific niche or area and are usually an industry expert or topic specialist. These are ideal influencers to consider if you want to establish your B2B brand at the heart of your community. They can work equally well for charities and B2C too as long as everything is aligned. In addition, whatever you do needs to be focused on providing something useful that the community wants i.e. not hard sell. This could be information, education, a solution, etc.
As David Meerham Scott so rightly says, a brand needs to:
“Educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell”
First Find Your Social Influencer
This is something we do frequently for clients. When coupled with good focused content and integrated social media it has a huge impact for a brand’s visibility, trust ratio and ultimately their bottom line. However, identifying the right social influencer is always key to successful marketing campaign.
However, you might not have to look very far. Many B2B businesses are built on expertise. Identifying the influencers on your staff, and considering how you can amplify their influence should therefore be your first point of call. It is likely that your clients and associates already trust your experts. Hopefully they see them as a source of knowledge. It would therefore be mutually beneficial to first look to your own experts to see if you can help them build influence within your community. Organic social influencer marketing is perhaps the most powerful of all. After all, there are no social influencers who are going to be as passionate about what you do as your own team!
Free Resources to Download
Want to see how to use Social Influencer Marketing to make your brand magnetic and an essential trusted source? Then one or all of the free resources below might be just the ticket.
Plus…Onalytica’s pretty hefty Complete Guide to Industry and B2B Influencer Marketing. It features contributions, tips and thoughts from luminaries such as Neil Schaffer, Brian Fanzo, Sarah Goodall, Rani Mani, Ben Alfrey, Scott Guthrie, and Mark Schaefer.
As well as our MD, Claire Burdett.