Sales & Marketing

Becoming more like Greggs and Moët: Why authenticity is winning on social media in 2019

6 min read

15 April 2019

Social media ad spend is set to increase by 40% (+£1.3bn) by 2020. In short: it’s a pretty big deal. But against this increasingly competitive, over-communicated tidal wave of messaging, what is the guiding North Star for brands to cut through the noise and resonate online?

We’re all well versed on the need for strategic social media marketing. The statistics speak for themselves. 92% of B2B marketers in the US rely on social media content to realise their marketing strategy. Instagram just overtook television as the primary advertising platform for under 35’s.

What are the trends in 2019?

In the wake of the fake followers, algorithm changes and privacy concerns that littered 2018, organisations are operating with a refreshed focus. Many are actively seeking to retain trust and credibility with their audiences. It means a move away from cold advertising, clickbait pieces and follower-chasing product placement with any-and-every influencer that has come to alienate social users. Instead, a necessary swing to value-driven content that feels organic, authentic and – most importantly – relevant.

Be authentic and distinctive

Take Moët & Chandon, who’ve sought to retain their luxury market position through a fittingly exclusive influencer marketing campaign: a tiered, selective approach fronted by five top-tier “ambassadors”, able to adequately represent the brand across both on- and offline platforms.

With the knowledge that there’s nothing luxurious about ubiquity, the champagne producer is avoiding social saturation – purposefully shrinking its pool of paid influencers to ensure they target the right audience in the right way, and thus maintain their premium edge.

Engagement pays off

If you don’t bring to life what it means to have a “Moët moment”, you’re not the influencer they’re after. Meanwhile, at the other end of the exclusivity spectrum, we’ve seen British bakery Greggs embrace their personality through a more tongue-in-cheek, conversational social strategy – creating levels of engagement and external press longed for by other brands on the high street.

Clearly, it’s working. The brand just broke £1bn in sales for the first time in their 80-year history, and announced the impressive feat in a typically self-deprecating manner: with chief exec Roger Whiteside suggesting it’s taken them a little longer than recently-announced self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner.

It’s a significant step from these consumer-targeted brands to spark greater engagement through more value-driven, authentic communications – something of immense worth in users’ densely populated feeds.

The strive for authenticity goes across the sectors

It’s not just B2C Beyond the retail space, this strive for authenticity has become equally important to organisations in more regulated industries – those taking more tentative steps into online engagement, less centred on steering buyers to the checkout.

We’ve seen healthcare giant Aetna, for example, leverage LinkedIn’s Elevate platform – an advocacy tool allowing businesses to generate pre-approved content for employees to share on their own personal profiles – to vocalise the brand’s values and initiatives.

Rather than distribute their thought leadership content through a faceless corporate account, Aetna recognise they’ll generate better engagement and amplification of their narrative through a more personal approach: executive leaders’ own profiles.

Rooted in this approach was a wish to amplify Aetna’s overarching message of transparency: placing conversation around patient needs at the forefront, and remaining simultaneously reflective about the US healthcare system – echoing the stance of CEO Mark Bertolini.

By leveraging the following and industry influence of their own employees and executives, Aetna’s targeted sharing strategy is setting it apart from competitors – and, in turn, making notable advancements on tracked engagement and brand perception.

Bring your internal strategy to life

Across each of these bespoke strategies, there runs a consistent thread: organisations who have identified their values, and tactically imbued them into their communications. Those talking the talk and walking the walk.

Of course, authenticity means something different for every brand. It could be an influencer campaign powered by exclusivity, or a personality-fuelled response strategy. Perhaps it’s a B2B-tailored approach to sharing internal thought leadership through a business-focused platform.

Stay true to what your business stands for

The commonality is staying true to what your organisation stands for. Simplifying down to what makes you unique, then amplifying that to your audience. Thinking of social as a means to bring that strategy to life and create connections, rather than another ad-channel to market to an anonymous target group.

Even if that means launching a tongue-in-cheek iPhone-inspired campaign around a Vegan sausage roll to start some conversation. Moving forward, the most effective strategies will continue to be those grounded in bringing social back to what it was designed for in the first place: having your own voice.