How brands are competing to be centre of consumer attention

Brands are competing to be centre of consumer attention
Carol Magill

BRANDS today are competing to be centre of consumers' attention, as they crowd social feeds with recommendations, endorsements and advertising.

Over the last two years, we have witnessed the growth of review sites expanding far beyond what we ever anticipated. The popularity of bloggers and YouTubers has helped increase and endorse reviewing products and services online.

With so much disruption and change in digital marketing, CIM recently decided to revisit its 2014 ‘Keep Social Honest' study to find out what consumers now think of brands on social media.

Our 2016 research demonstrates that the level of consumer engagement on social media has increased, with 39 per cent of people saying they use social media more than they did last year. The usage of social media is unsurprising, with 78 per cent of respondents saying they used social media more in their personal life in comparison to 12 per cent in their business life.

This research also identified that consumers are now turning to their favourite social channels to help influence their buying decisions. 62 per cent of people stated that they used social media when deciding whether or not to purchase a product or service.

The types of brands that consumers feel most engaged with on social media have not changed since the 2014 research with the top four sectors being: food (39 per cent), technology (29 per cent), fashion (27 per cent) and drink (24 per cent). However, 30 per cent of people said that they would disengage with a brand if they found that others have had a bad experience with them or if they have read any negative news stories about them.

Which reiterates how vital honesty online really is. Facebook is now seen to be the most trusted social media platform, with 62 per cent of people saying they have complete trust in the information they see on this channel. This has increased since our 2014 findings which showcased that only 46 per cent had trust in content they had access to on Facebook.

When looking at other social networks, the trend is reversed. 47 per cent have complete trust in content they see on Twitter, 38 per cent Instagram, 60 per cent YouTube and 43 per cent on blogs they read. This proves that overall, consumers were more trusting of brands two years ago (Twitter 55 per cent, Instagram 49 per cent, YouTube 56 per cent and blogs 67 per cent).

Digging deeper into possible causes we find that, worryingly, only 19 per cent of consumers find it easy to tell the difference between marketing communications, advertising, branded content, and non-commercial content on social media. This figure has fallen greatly in comparison to our 2014 findings where over a third (38 per cent) of consumers said it was easy to tell the difference between commercial and non-commercial content.

Forty per cent of consumers said they don't trust brands online because they believe that the content is paid for which in their mind lacks authenticity. However, 32 per cent don't trust the content specifically as they feel it's not regulated. Both points come as no surprise when it's hard to distinguish what's been paid for and what's authentic.

Misleading marketing communications and ‘bad behaviour' on social media is problematic. It's evident that advertisers aren't doing enough to ensure transparency, which is affecting the trust that consumers have in brands. However, this isn't always intentional – from our previous research, we know that 52 per cent of marketers have little or no understanding of the regulations affecting their communications on social media.

:: Carol Magill is CIM network manager for Ireland.


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