“Brand image is more than a logo that identifies your business, product or service. Today, it is a mix of the associations consumers make based on every interaction they have with your business.” – Solomon Thimothy, Forbes Council Agency.
Using insights from our data partner GWI, we explore how brands can build their reputation through motivating customers and influence purchase intention.
#1 User-Generated Content – A crucial way of discovering a brand
UGC acts as authentic social proof that your product is worthy of buying. With 78% of consumers discovering brands through earned media, UGC is almost as powerful as paid media for brands to get themselves known. In APAC, 2021 saw many different ways consumers discovered products and brands through social media, including 22% through social recommendations, and 18% from posts and reviews from experts and bloggers.
UGC allows brands to connect with consumers and gain trust. 38% of APAC consumers felt that they trusted online reviews about products/services. It’s no surprise that the authenticity of UGC also helps establish positive brand image.
UGC could be a win-win for brand and consumer as it appeals to the desire of younger consumers to be involved and have a real relationship with brands. Peer content is viewed as more authentic and trustworthy, leading to more trust in the brand itself.
One example of a great UGC campaign was when, using TikTok, American clothing brand Guess launched the #InMyDenim Hashtag Challenge, which asked users to show their fashion style in denim. After 6 days, the hashtag had over 5,550 user-generated videos and a 14.3% engagement rate.
#2 Online Reviews – Positive reviews increase customers’ purchase intention
In APAC, over a third felt that positive reviews from other customers would increase their likelihood of buying a product. Customers don’t trust brands with lower than 4-star ratings. The most common filter applied is to see only brands with 4-star ratings and higher.
Brands aren’t responding fast enough (or at all) to reviews. 53% of customers expected businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. 1 in 3 expected a shorter time frame of 3 days or less. Responsive industry leaders get higher ratings. Faster review response times are closely linked to having a positive reputation.
Reviews on social media, e-commerce sites, forums and brand websites should all be taken care of by brands. Online reviews is not only a short path for brands to get feedback from consumers, but also represents brands’ image.
Social listening can be conducted frequently to track brands’ health across multiple online channels. Spotting the areas where consumers raise complaints and using social community management tools to reply the feedback in a timely manner can prevent the further extension of negativity or crisis.
#3 Advocacy Motivation – Varies by generation
In APAC, motivation to promote brands online varies by generation. Younger gens are also more likely to advocate for a brand based on their love for it and for the feeling of being involved. While 22% of Gen Zers were especially driven by exclusive content or services, 18% of millennials were more likely to want something that enhances their online reputation/status. Gen X and boomers, in comparison, over- index on when they’ve received great customer service (35% – 41%).
In summary, the younger generations value a personal relationship with brands which is also mutually-beneficial. For the older generations, it’s about brands nailing the basics.
It’s becoming increasing important for brands to focus on the distinct elements which motivate their target audiences.
A recent example of this was when Sony created an online community of brand ambassadors for their range of Alpha Cameras. They wrote 52 articles for their website, each about a different photographer and a piece of Sony Alpha kit. Sony also set up a new Instagram channel for the Alpha community, where users can share tips and enter competitions, further growing engagement for Sony. The campaign led to a 22% increase to traffic to the Sony Alpha Universe website.
#4 Employee Advocacy
As the workplace communication is evolving, companies are looking into new ways to connect with their employees and turn them into active brand ambassadors. Altimeter highlights that 90% of brands surveyed already started with employee advocacy or have plans to launch an employee advocacy program.
According to research conducted by LinkedIn and Edelman, 47% of buyers said that a piece of thought leadership had led them to discover and, ultimately, purchase from a company that was not considered to be among the leaders in a particular category. 63% believed thought leadership is vital in proving that a company understands or can solve their business’s challenges.
When mapping out an employee advocacy program, be sure to consider the different stages along the customer journey and pinpoint crucial moments in the decision-making process that customers could benefit from a piece of thought leadership content.
Meanwhile, if brands want their corporate communications to be authentic, they have to encourage employees to create their own content instead of requiring them to share links/content created by your marketing team. The most important thing for brands to support employees is to help them acquire the skills they want to develop, such as running proper training programs that include workshops, webinars or online training.
#5 Authentic Content
When asked the main reasons for using social media, 26% of consumers said that they wanted to see updates and content from their favourite influencers, while 27.4% said they wanted to find products or services.
Influencers provide a voice for brands, advocating for products and services to their many followers. However, brands should be mindful of consumer preference for genuine content. 45% of Gen Z believe there is too much pressure to be perfect on social media, and connect better with more genuine advocates.
Brands should partner with influencers who know how to create sponsored content that don’t look like ads. Focus on the creators who foster real relationships with their community and offer valuable authentic content.
Many brands struggle with how sales-driven their messaging should be. The successful ones have one thing in common, they’re focused on adding value for their audiences. The most effective influencers at this time are the ones creating, being artists, being gamers, being authentic and promoting products and services they believe in.
Carro, which has 350,000 visitors a month, connects brands with influencers in order to expand brands’ reach and drive sales. Carro can help brands find influencers that actually use their products, creating an opportunity for brands to find authentic advocates.