Influencers have sparked a conversation in the marketing sector, this time with the viral trend of ‘de-influencing.’ De-influencing is the online movement of people sharing products and services across social channels they think are not worth spending money on.
It started on TikTok and quickly trickled onto other social media platforms sparked by a fake review of a beauty influencer wearing a pair of false lashes in a paid promotion for mascara. Consumers were outraged at not only her deception, but the fact that the product was falsely being sold to them.
It has since snowballed into a broader backlash against influencers selling products that they themselves don’t believe in, with #deinfluencing racking up over 453.3 million views on TikTok alone. But, while de-influencing started in the beauty industry, there are lessons to be learnt by brands in every sector – and not just in terms of influencer marketing.
There are no shortcuts to meaningful engagement. Brands looking to avoid the pitfalls in a de-influencing world should look to create value through storytelling and creativity. Digital worlds are far from perfect for many brands. They must recognise the sandbox of creative opportunities stemming from customer experience, better uses of data, and more relevant, personalised conversations with customers.
Technology is how creative storytelling is made better. It helps marketers build and extend their brand universe in more personalised and real-time ways leading to more authentic moments of engagement and results, for both themselves and the consumer. Consumers want to trust the brand they purchase from and expect to be understood and valued. As 45% of brands spent more than half of their marketing budgets on retention in 2022, and likely to continue to do so in 2023, they must leverage technology to drive authentic and personalised interactions at scale: every relationship with every customer matters.
Authenticity relies on fully understanding your customers and what they seek from your brand. Gympass is a fitness brand that has built strong customer relationships by embracing an omnichannel, personalised digital experience with a brand strategy focused on helping people make lasting health-related behavioural changes. They launched a mobile campaign to engage with customers daily and help them maintain a healthier lifestyle.
By asking a simple question like ‘Where do you like to work out?’, Gympass was able to create a one-to-one conversation with its users through hyper-personalisation. By offering users this authentic, simple and yet personal experience, the campaign drove 25% of the net-new revenue associated with Gympass’s new subscriber revenue stream and tripled the sign-up volume.
The de-influencing trend also reminds us that building strong customer relationships means not always selling something, but adding real value. As a result, we are already seeing brands re-evaluate their messaging. A recent survey of global brands reveals that, in 2023, more than half (53%) plan to send more messages offering helpful advice, and 37% plan to send fewer promotions.
HBO Max has fully embraced this concept. Their Fantastic Beasts campaign is a great reminder of how giving users useful content can not only build trust, but earn the right to sell. For their promotion of the next instalment of the Fantastic Beasts films, they developed a customised ‘What’s Your Hogwarts House’ survey based on viewers’ preferences and history. The data collected was then used to create a campaign that evoked the larger Harry Potter franchise promoting the new film.
Through a well-executed customer engagement campaign, fans received personalised messaging, including more information about what their house selection symbolised – a hero image, their name embedded on the house crest, and five curated titles based on their house selection.
Shows have evolved from being a one-time event to an evergreen universe that extends beyond the opening and closing credits. Fans no longer want just to watch a show; they want to immerse themselves in its world. By providing useful and interesting content that people wanted to engage with, HBO Max could use the data to offer value to its customers in return.
This also yielded commercial success with the campaign resulting in a 3.36% increase in viewership of recommended titles, a 3.12% increase in session starts and a six times higher click rate for their in-app messages: another point for brand building.
The sky’s the limit for brands who truly prioritise customer needs and value at the heart of their strategies – leave the gimmicks to the amateurs. Thanks to technology, brands can do more than just send the next relevant offer. They can encourage positive changes in their customers’ lives by getting savvier with data, and building dynamic campaigns that use digital worlds to expand the brand’s creative universe.
By Mariam Asmar, VP Strategic Consulting, Braze