Learn how to leverage authentic customer voices in our recorded webinar.

Turn every customer into an influencer

Social media influencing is at a critical inflection point: engagement rates are declining (down to 2.4% from 4% in 2016) and consumers are increasingly skeptical about content they see online.

 

Right now, authenticity is winning above all else, with 90% of millennials believing “authenticity” is the most important factor when choosing between brands – which is why brands are increasingly turning to “everyday influencers”. Find out why and how with our Guide.

These are highly unusual, uncertain and unsettling times. The evolution of the COVID-19 story over the past 2-3 weeks has been so rapid that making predictions is tough.

But here are some observations so far:

  • Retail has changed forever. Digital is driving a large proportion of revenue by necessity right now but these shopping habits are quickly becoming normal.
  • The digital experience you provide is more important than it’s ever been – both now and once all this is over.
  • While digital is critical, everyone is struggling. Empathy, authenticity, and trustworthiness are increasingly vital for the foreseeable future.

Digital reliance skyrockets

Reliance on digital engagement has been a clear and predictable trend. Online shopping volumes have increased massively, particularly for household staples – which has been widely reported by now. Peapod experienced a 33% surge in demand in the first week of March (before the crisis deepened). Adobe has more recent figures and reports surges in a number of categories. Overall web traffic is also way up on normal. People are living their lives online right now and this period is only likely to accelerate the digital transformation that has been ongoing for a number of years.

Increased social media usage

Unsurprisingly, there has also been some noticeable shifts in social media activity. During the quarantine period, people can’t go anywhere and have a lot more time on their hands than they usually do. In such a scenario, it’s no surprise that the first thing they probably reach for is their phone when looking to fill their time.

Twitter usage is up, with 164 million people on average having visited that particular social channel in the past quarter – an increase of 12 million from the previous quarter and a 23% jump from a year earlier.

If you use Instagram, you’ll have noticed the addition of a “Stay Home” sticker in the last few days. This was created by the platform to encourage social distancing to stem the spread of the virus. Instagram campaigns generally are proving more successful too, with ad posts attracting 76% more likes than in more “normal” times.

Instagram’s “Stay Home” sticker has been shared broadly on the platform (Credit: Flipweb)

How can retailers and brands be successful right now?

While everyone’s first priority right now is of course the health of themselves and their loved ones, life and business still goes on – as much as that is possible.

Retailers and brands therefore need to figure out how to be successful in these new conditions. They can’t just drop everything.

With this being the case, digital offers the clearest opportunity – both now and whenever we get back to “normal”.

Above all else, though, you need to be empathetic, “real” and authentic. It should go without saying that you need to be sensitive to the emotional toil a lot of people are going through.

Before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, 90% of millennials said “authenticity” is the most important factor for them when choosing between which brands to shop with. It’s unlikely that figure would have declined in the last few weeks.

How to be more authentic

Outside of existing conditions, the appeal and effectiveness of sponsored content and celebrity influence were already decreasing.

Another study showed 57% of consumers believe less than half of all brands actually offer meaningful, authentic content. And 60% say content from friends or family influences their purchase decisions, while just 23% say content from celebrities and influencers are impactful. At the same time, brand trust has never been harder to earn. The annual Edelman Trust Barometer found only 34% of consumers have trust in brands they use.

Celebrity campaigns are becoming less and less effective, and are completely inappropriate right now

With all this now occurring against a backdrop of surging social media engagement and ecommerce revenue due to COVID-19, there is a clear opportunity for thoughtful and sympathetic digital engagement. 

Celebrity-based campaigns are already perceived to be disingenuous at the best of times, and that is even more likely to be the case in these uncertain times. Even though they can reach huge audiences, messages stemming from these “hired guns” simply come across as not believable. As a result, they do not provide the necessary inspiration to motivate customers to hit the “buy” button.

Celebrity and macro influencers are no longer hitting the mark

In fact, 25% of U.S. consumers do not trust celebrity product recommendations. Add in today’s environment and you actually risk coming across as crass, insensitive and potentially doing your brand more harm than good. More generally, social media influencing is at a critical inflection point: engagement rates are declining (down to 2.4% from 4% in 2016).

What are “everyday influencers”?

Instead, consumers need to be served up a wide array of customer-generated content. What does this mean? Online word-of-mouth style guidance and recommendations that they actually believe. Most importantly, this content must be created by those they trust most – friends and family and everyday ‘people like them’.

“Everyday influencers” are authentic, real and relatable. They are your neighbor, your brother, your mom’s friend, or your college roommate. People you trust and “word of mouth” for the digital age. Most importantly, they are an antidote to the skepticism of online communities.

But the information they share needs to be as emotionally relevant and/or personalized to each customer as possible. Now this may seem an impossible challenge. How can you scale such a personalized approach?

“Everyday Influencers” are real people who customers can relate to.

How to run “everyday influencer” campaigns

Non-paid “everyday influencers” with an authentic presence on social media are the key. But where do you start? Identifying the right people for your brand from a vast network, engaging them via sampling, and encouraging them to share images through their own personal social media accounts. The cost benefits of such an approach are obvious.

But to ensure ongoing authenticity and effectiveness, you must find the best methods to inspire these consumers, gather their content and use it in a meaningful way. This means targeting the right people with the right samples at the right time.

Certainly, you can leverage your own database and CRM data for this purpose. This should incorporate a lot of the information you need to execute one of these campaigns – from contact information and purchase history and potentially even social media activity.

Alternatively, there are vendors with the expertise to help with this process. We ourselves have a network of more than 480,000 “everyday influencers” who we can target precisely and with efficiency to ensure your products are endorsed in a sensitive and authentic way.

What do I do with this “everyday influencer” content?

The organic social media engagement generated should provide significant visibility and reach. However, promoting this content across your own digital properties provides additional impact (i.e. your social media channels, your website, and mobile app). At a time when people are really searching for a sense of community online, this type of authentic engagement is likely to resonate even more than usual.

In conclusion

COVID-19 presents huge challenges for companies still looking to make the best of a dire situation. They still have jobs to protect and revenue objectives to hit but a customer base that is struggling against a fast-evolving environment.

In these times of social distancing and quarantining, consumers are naturally turning to digital to meet their needs. For organizations figuring out how to be successful, digital is likely to provide any opportunities that do exist. But whatever marketing campaigns they end up implementing, they need to be executed thoughtfully with empathy and understanding.

All this is occurring against a backdrop of consumers generally becoming more suspicious of all content they see online. As a result, celebrity endorsements are not proving as effective as the voices of “real” and “everyday” people – which are deemed more trustworthy and authentic.

Social campaigns that leverage these new types of “influencers” are therefore extremely powerful – not to mention far more cost-effective – in today’s frenetic media market. COVID-19 presents a number of unique opportunities to create meaningful and emotionally-connecting digital engagement through these voices.

If you’d like to find out more about why companies are increasingly looking to the customer-generated content developed by “everyday influencers” in their marketing campaigns:

From everyone at PowerReviews, stay safe and healthy.

Andrew Smith

Andrew is an experienced ecommerce technology marketer. When he's not thinking about his day job, he's running around after two small children in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

Consumers are losing trust in branded content – and this includes traditional influencer marketing. The result? Influencers can’t convert followers to customers at the same scale.

In a survey from UM Media Agency, only 4% of consumers now trust what influencers say online. Instead, consumers are looking for a more transparent, authentic brand experience. To build this kind of authenticity, smart brands, like Nautica, are looking beyond paid influencers to everyday influencers – people’s peers.

In this recorded webinar, you’ll hear from brand experts such as Jenna Williams, Digital Communications Manager at Nautica on the advantages of leveraging passionate customers and brand enthusiasts, and how they can help brands earn more engagement and feedback.

View this on-demand webinar to learn: 
  • How to build brand trust and authenticity through quality content from customers
  • How customer-generated content can earn you more customers
  • How successful brands leverage authentic customer voices to boost engagement and awareness

Webinar Speakers

Peter V.S. Bond, Vice President, CPG/Retail Strategy at PowerReviews

Peter V.S. Bond is Vice President Of CPG/Retail Strategy at PowerReviews, focused on enabling commercial success within the Consumer Packaged Goods/Retail vertical. Peter’s prior experience includes having directed category and brand omnichannel personalization for the retail business unit of CVS Health and roles at dunnhumby and IRI, working with large enterprise CPG and Retail clients like Kroger, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campbell Soup and others.

 

Jenna Williams, Digital Communications Manager at Nautica

Jenna Williams is the Digital Communications Manager for Nautica. Prior to joining the digital and social team for Nautica, Jenna worked in PR, social, and a variety of other roles at Nautica. As part of her current role, she manages affiliate search, shopping, paid social, and Facebook channels.

 

Steve White, Executive Director, WONGDOODY Commerce

Steve White is the Executive Director of WONGDOODY Commerce. Steve helps brands and retailers navigate digital transformation, shopper marketing and human-centric experiences. Before WONGDOODY, Steve spent the past decade working for digital transformation companies Razorfish, R/GA and TBWA creating meaningful change for some of the world’s largest brands including Samsung, Walmart, Revlon, Proctor & Gamble and Starbucks.

Download the Slides

Featured Presenters

Peter V.S. Bond, Vice President, CPG/Retail Strategy at PowerReviews

Peter V.S. Bond is Vice President Of CPG/Retail Strategy at PowerReviews, focused on enabling commercial success within the Consumer Packaged Goods/Retail vertical. Peter’s prior experience includes having directed category and brand omnichannel personalization for the retail business unit of CVS Health and roles at dunnhumby and IRI, working with large enterprise CPG and Retail clients like Kroger, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campbell Soup and others. 

 

Jenna Williams, Digital Communications Manager at Nautica

Jenna Williams is the Digital Communications Manager for Nautica. Prior to joining the digital and social team for Nautica, Jenna worked in PR, social, and a variety of other roles at Nautica. As part of her current role, she manages affiliate search, shopping, paid social, and Facebook channels.

 

Steve White, Executive Director, WONGDOODY Commerce

Steve White is the Executive Director of WONGDOODY Commerce. Steve helps brands and retailers navigate digital transformation, shopper marketing and human-centric experiences. Before WONGDOODY, Steve spent the past decade working for digital transformation companies Razorfish, R/GA and TBWA creating meaningful change for some of the world’s largest brands including Samsung, Walmart, Revlon, Proctor & Gamble and Starbucks.

In a world where we are all information-rich, the days when customers make purchase decisions without thoroughly researching them first are long gone.

And they’re looking for very specific types of information as they move from browsing an item to knowing for sure that they must have it…now.

Think about it: you need to advance their thought process. They have intent but they need something extra to motivate them to actually hit the “buy” button. Providing information that’s insightful, accurate and authentic at this make-or-break point of their journey is therefore absolutely critical.

Customer-Generated Content (CGC) can be the key to converting shoppers into customers. But what is it and why can it have such a big impact? Continue reading “Five ways to Illuminate the Path to Purchase with More Customer-Generated Content”

Learn how to leverage everyday influencers in our upcoming webinar on March 24, 2020. REGISTER NOW

https://webinars.on24.com/BrandStudio/BuildingBrandTrust?partnerref=PowerReviews

MARCH 4, 2020 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—PowerReviews, a software and data company powering the authentic voice of the customer for brands and retailers, today announced the appointment of Mark Dillon as chief executive officer.  Mark initially joined PowerReviews in May 2019 as senior vice president of sales and was quickly promoted to chief revenue officer late last year, having been responsible for driving record bookings growth at the Company. Matt Moog, who founded the Company as Viewpoints in August 2006 before acquiring PowerReviews and rebranding as such in June 2014, has stepped down as CEO to pursue his next entrepreneurial venture.

Moog commented, “I have known Mark for nearly 20 years, and I was thrilled when he agreed to join PowerReviews nine months ago.  After working closely with Mark over the last year, I have complete confidence that Mark is the right person to succeed me as CEO.  Mark’s ability as a leader to bring people together to focus, collaborate and execute is best-in-class, and I know he will be successful in executing the PowerReviews vision.”

“I started the company 14 years ago with a vision to help companies and people make smarter decisions by bringing transparency and accountability to commerce.  I could not be prouder of the impact that we have had as a team. Today we work with 1,000+ leading brands that positively impact billions of shopping visits a year.  As I return to my entrepreneurial roots, I will be forever grateful to the amazing team of employees that built the company, our fantastic clients and supportive investors.”   

“The board is grateful to Matt for setting the vision for PowerReviews to unify and amplify the voice of the consumer, bringing authenticity and transparency to so many people,” said Paul Mariani, general partner at ABS Capital Partners and board member at PowerReviews. He added, “As PowerReviews embarks on its next phase of growth, we are confident in Mark’s ability to continue the company’s impressive path to becoming the leading SaaS platform for the collection, display and analysis of customer-generated content for brands and retailers.”

Prior to joining PowerReviews, Dillon served as a senior vice president of Spiceworks, a global IT marketplace that connects technology buyers and sellers, where he was focused on worldwide sales, sales operations and client success.  Dillon is an experienced leader, demonstrated by his role in the successful sales of multiple businesses to public companies, following years of significant revenue growth and value creation.

Mark Dillon Headshot

“I’m excited to build on Matt’s vision and impressive foundation to lead PowerReviews to new heights, with a focus on connecting more brands and retailers, driving additional content creation and resulting in better, smarter buying decisions,” said Dillon. “PowerReviews’ solutions are well-positioned to help customers address today’s trends and drive sales.”

Dillon is surrounded by an impressive executive team including chief financial officer Jillian Sheehan and chief technology officer Perry Marchant and is based in PowerReviews’ Chicago office headquarters.

About PowerReviews

PowerReviews is a software and data company that works with 1000+ leading brands and retailers to bring authenticity and transparency to commerce.  The PowerReviews Customer Content Platform has four solutions that help our customers collect and manage customer-generated content to improve the product and customer experience across the customer journey.     We help clients meet the evolving need for social proof, accelerating the path to purchase and brand advocacy.

PowerReviews is known for innovation, consultative partnership, and actionable insights, supported by our open platform and approach.  Our dedicated team of experts provides thoughtful analysis and turnkey service. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL.

This site and our services use cookies and other technologies to collect and/or store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work while others improve your experience. Read our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy to learn more.