What if marketers used the internet as consumers do?
This is the question brands are asking as the Adblock war hits new heights in 2016. Online media titans like Forbes, GQ and Wired have all recently taken measures to combat Adblock with variations of the same core strategy: tell users to either turn off their Adblock, or to pay up with a subscription fee.
This is the most recent response to a growing epidemic for online publications that depend on ads for revenue: as Adblock reached unprecedented usage in 2015 (198 million adblock users globally, 45 million in the U.S. alone), online publishers lost an estimated 22 billion dollars of revenue as a result.
Your customers no longer want to engage with your ads, and they’ll go to great lengths not to pay for your content either. Don’t even think about mobile- Apple & co already have mobile ads shut down, and we have yet to meet one person who’s clicked on a mobile ad on purpose. But as consumer ad fatigue grows on all media channels, so does the need for brands to reach, engage and convert- so how do brands rise above the noise to reach their customers?
It’s time to go back to the basics, and to engage with customers on their own turf.
Traditional Media Strategies Don’t Work on Social
Until now, marketers have been attempting a drag-and-drop strategy on social media, using traditional forms of ads- like TV commercials, billboards, and magazine ads- on an un-traditional channel, thus turning their marketing strategy into a digital roadblock to content consumers want to enjoy. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons, the primary one being that the rise of social media channels has shifted the power dynamic between consumer and brand, in favor of the consumer.
Advertisements used to complement the viewing experience because they were unavoidable. But now that consumers have grown accustomed to being able to customize and interact with their digital landscape, brand ads are an unwelcome interruption to an otherwise personalized content experience.
Instead of forcing old tactics into new territories, we should be aligning with online consumer behavior patterns that define social media engagement and best practices. People go online for many reasons- information, entertainment, product discovery- but they go on social media for one main reason: to connect with the people they know. As a result, it’s no surprise that traditional media strategies aren’t cutting it on these channels, or that consumers are becoming increasingly intolerant to ads in the social arena specifically. But that’s where they spend all of their time, so the cycle of brands attempting paid social (and of consumers ignoring these ads) continues…until we adjust our strategies to reconcile our brand goals with consumer goals on social.
We’ve all had the experience of refreshing our Facebook News Feed for twenty minutes, mindlessly scrolling and reading statuses we don’t actually care about. The average consumer is a social media addict, and it’s time that marketers capitalize on this directly. Rather than interrupting the content experience, we should be integrating ourselves within it, providing a seamless experience for the user to both enjoy the content they came for and to engage with a brand simultaneously.
UGC: The Secret Sauce to Making Your Brand Human
Ironically, the customers who are blocking your ads are your best marketing asset. Your customers are the most human part of your brand (duh), and the recommendations that they give their friends drive more value for your brand than any banner ad you can create. But not all of your customers are created equal; only 9% of your customers have the relevant social capital to deliver value for your brand. These users have 500-5,000 followers on average, and possess high engaged reach (25%+) around topics relevant to your brand. We call them micro-influencers.
When activated to share branded content on social, micro-influencers engage prospective customers in their native habitat – while they’re enjoying their content in the news feed-instead of serving as a nuisance banner or pop-up ad that customers will actively click away from. It makes sense: user-generated content is relatable, unintrusive, and more trustworthy than the impersonal nature of brand ads. UGC is the secret sauce to making any brand more human, and in doing so it drives more engagement and value for your brand than regular branded content.
UGC isn’t exactly a secret strategy these days, but the distinction is to get the right users to generate content for you. Micro-influencers take the basic value of UGC and multiply it exponentially with their influence. Not only are you able to activate customers to co-create branded content for you, but you can trust that the micro-influencers who create the UGC will have resonance and relevance around topics related to your brand. We’ve found that micro-influencer UGC can drive 10x higher engagement than a comparable branded post.
Here are three content types across the UGC spectrum that you can utilize in your marketing strategy to reach your brand objectives:
After activating millions on our platform, we’ve proven that each micro-influencer activated converts three people on average. To see how other brands have used UGC in action, check out our case studies page.