marketing authenticity gap

Image source: PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

Consumers and marketers agree about the value of authenticity. Most consumers (90%) say authenticity is important in deciding which brands they like and support (up from 86% in 2017) and 83% marketers agree that authenticity is very important to their brands, according to a survey by Stackla, a user-generated content platform.

Here’s the catch, though: The research reveals a large gap between what marketers and consumers consider authentic.

The overwhelming majority (92%) of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers, but 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create authentic content, according to the survey of 1,590 consumers and 150 B2C marketers from the US, UK and Australia

Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to say user-generated content (UGC) – content posted by actual consumers on social media — is more authentic than brand-created content. Conversely, marketers are 2.1 times more likely to say brand-created content is authentic compared to UGC.

What Impacts Purchase Decisions

In addition, 79% of consumers say UGC significantly impacts their purchase decisions, up from 60 percent in 2017. Consumers say images from friends, peers or other consumers influences their decisions about vacation travel, restaurant dining, automotive purchases, and consumer packaged goods. Only 13% say content from a brand impacts purchase decisions.

Only 8% say influencer-created content would greatly impact their purchasing decisions, but 49% of marketers plan to increase influencer marketing investments in 2019.

Slightly more than two-thirds of marketers say they plan to increase their use of brand-created visuals, but only 15% of consumers say that’s the type of content they most want to see from brands.

Other research shows that UGC is highly effective, as consumers trust recommendations of other consumers, especially people they know, more than brands. Effective use of the strategy can generate 6.9x higher engagement than brand-generated content on Facebook, according to the Internet Trends 2017 report. The strategy also allows small organizations to compete against companies with the deep pockets to pay for extensive advertising campaigns

Overcoming the Challenge of Finding User-Generated Content

Large, established brands can receive plenty of UGC by holding contests of by simply asking for it. Most brands might not be so fortune. A social media listening tool can solve the problem by finding positive mentions of the company and products. Social media listening enables marketers to tap the large and free reservoir of authentic and influential content posted by consumers.   Remember to monitor for nicknames, abbreviations, and common misspellings of your products. Then reach out to social media users via comment or direct message and ask them for permission to use their post.

Most consumers said they’d be likely to grant a brand permission to use an image or video they had posted on social media of a recent trip (55%), recent restaurant experience (62%), new vehicle (51%) or new piece of clothing or personal product (59%).

Finding UGC through social media listening can also help solve marketers content production challenge. Almost two-thirds of marketers in the Stackla survey say they feel pressure to continually produce more content at a higher frequency. Other top challenges include effectively managing content (57%) and producing or sourcing enough engaging visuals (50%)

Bottom Line: Images and other content posted by consumers appears more authentic than slick, staged images that marketers post online. User-generated content is also more likely to influence purchases decisions than the staged stock images from brands. With the help of a social media listening service, brands can find and re-share that content to get noticed on social media and influence consumer purchase decisions.