84 Percent of Millennials Don’t Trust Traditional Advertising

Social media has changed the way brands engage with their consumers, say marketing experts from Crowdtap, Weight Watchers, and MRY, who believe brands must put people at the heart of their marketing strategy to create authentic social content.

Marketers today face a huge obstacle when trying to reach young consumers: 84 percent of Millennials don’t like traditional advertising nor do they trust it, according to a recent study. To solve this problem, brands need to empower their customers on social and put people at the heart of their marketing strategy, according to executives from Crowdtap, Weight Watchers, and MRY.

“Fundamentally our relationship with consumers is broken,” said Sean Foster, chief executive (CEO) of marketing platform Crowdtap, during his panel discussion entitled “People-Power Marketing: A Crash Course in Putting Consumers at the Heart of Your Brand” at Social Media Week.

Consumers today want a different relationship from what they are getting right now from many brands, explained Foster, because social media has changed and continues to change everything. To adapt to these changes, Foster noted that brands must move from a “closed system” to an “open system” where consumers become architects of a brand.

“It’s about empowering people to help you build a brand,” he said. “It’s about people over advertising.”

Lee Hurley, vice president of digital and social at Weight Watchers, agreed that people have the power to help a brand succeed.

Using Weight Watchers as an example, Hurley explained about the brand’s “relevancy issue.” “[Consumers] think that Weight Watchers is an old-fashioned and rigid diet. The word ‘diet’ is filled with isolation, perfection, and shame and self-loathing. Diet is not fun,” she said. “[But] Weight Watchers is not a diet company. It’s a people company. It’s a lifestyle, and diet can be delicious and fun.”

To deliver the desired message, Hurley and her team attempt to bring Weight Watchers to life through its own community.

First, they seek to create strong engagement through collaboration with consumers. According to Hurley, people visit Weight Watchers’ social media platforms multiple times a day for food content. “We ask the crowd what they want to eat. When we ask them, the content [sees] 11 percent higher engagement on Instagram,” she said.

Next, they amplify the message and build trust by leveraging user-generated content (UGC). “For us especially, to hear from someone who is having success in [our] program is very compelling,” Hurley said. “For me to tell [a customer] that when you are not on a diet, you can still lose weight, there may be still some trust issues. [But] when you actually hear a member tell you that story, it’s game changing.”

Aside from collaboration and UGC, Weight Watchers taps influential consumers to drive awareness of its new products, dipping into a specific bucket in its marketing budget for influencer-based and word-of-mouth-based marketing.

When the company introduced a new program called “Simple Start,” it asked a group of social influencers to test this new product. “All of [our influencers] tried ‘Simple Start’ and across the Web, we were creating UGC. Basically 20 percent of our online word-of-mouth [for this program] was driven by the influencer program,” Hurly explained.

Matt Britton, founder and CEO of MRY, emphasized the importance of social influencers from an agency’s perspective.

As marketing dollars shift from TV to digital today, he said, social celebrities now have the power to “move the needle and change markets.”

“Social media [is] never about brands. Nobody actually wants to be friends with a toothbrush; they want to be friends with a person,” Britton said.

To explain this concept, he used an ad campaign for Adobe Creative Cloud as an example. “Instead of having Adobe tell everyone how great they are, we actually want students to use Adobe products to show their peers how great Adobe is.”

To embrace people-powered marketing, he suggested brands should deliver their value by “showing” rather than by “telling.”

“That offers the difference between content and advertising,” Britton said. “Advertising tells ‘buy this,’ [because] it’s better, faster, and stronger, while content usually shows [and] allows consumers to learn it and understand it on their own.”

Could people-powered marketing help fix the trust problem marketers face when advertising to Millennials? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Shutterstock. 

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