In the age of social media, where consumers are more vocal than ever and transparent brand-to-consumer dialogue is prized above all else, businesses don’t get to define their brand anymore. Their audiences do.
And the audiences have spoken - calls for brands to have better sustainability practices are growing more and more impatient, particularly among younger generations. Driven in part by the pandemic, internet searches for ‘sustainability’ increased by 37% in the first half of 2020. And a study conducted in the same year found that 83% of consumers think companies should only earn a profit if they also have a positive impact on society.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? The climate has been in a state of emergency for years but most people feel powerless to effect change – except when it comes to purchasing decisions. So we’ve started searching and shopping in more conscious ways, selecting brands not just for the quality of their products but for their core values too. In that sense, impact… creates impact.
A 2019 study found that products that have been marketed as sustainable grow 5.6 times faster than those that aren’t. But times have changed since then: it’s no longer enough for brands to rely on image alone to attract the customers they want.
Effective marketing today goes much deeper by helping brands - and their customers - make an impact on people, on the planet, and on performance.
Enter influencer marketing.
Influencers make brand messages more authentic.
A perceived commitment to social issues is one thing. But brands today need to work harder to win the trust of their customers by taking real action and pursuing every channel to communicate their impact clearly and transparently.
A recent report found that only 47% of all brands are seen as trustworthy. That’s alarming. Particularly in the sustainability space, people often feel tricked and even manipulated by companies that make false claims that their products are environmentally friendly. This is greenwashing (and it should be avoided at all costs).
Luckily, 70% of consumers factor influencers into their purchasing decisions and an even greater 83% factor in sustainability. Influencer marketing campaigns work so well because they allow brands to harness the hard-earned relationships influencers have built with their audiences, which are usually based on trust, transparency and authenticity. Indeed, transparency and authenticity are two of the most decisive factors for consumers when deciding which brands to support. It’s even more important for younger generations: 81% of millennials expect companies to declare their corporate citizenship (a commitment to social, cultural and environmental responsibilities) publicly.
Authentic and engaging content that connects directly with consumers’ values is the antidote to widespread mistrust in corporations. It amplifies a brand’s sustainable impact in all the right ways because, if the products and message are genuinely good for the environment, higher engagement levels and more customers lead directly to a healthier planet.
Influencers are already changing the sustainability game.
Influencers have powerful voices that can cut through the noise and feelings of helplessness to stir up a sense of urgency, community and even optimism about the future. And they’re the experts when it comes to their audience’s online behaviour, so their content is strategic, targeted and always on point (which is very useful for brands worried about striking the right tone when discussing sustainability).
Some, like @GreenGirlLeah, @SustainableSabs and @ZeroWasteCutie, are known as ‘green influencers’. With hundreds of thousands of loyal followers who watch these spaces specifically to learn about ethical living, they’re the perfect spokespeople for any sustainability-driven campaign.
But it’s important to note that brands don’t have to work with influencers in niche spaces to achieve their goals – all influencers add bundles of authenticity and impact to any campaign. Even micro-influencers (with less than 15,000 followers) attract high engagement rates of 17.96%, drastically outperforming other channels.
How to build a sustainability-driven influencer campaign with influencers.
There’s no simple recipe to building an influencer campaign around sustainability. But before thinking about livestreams, multi-phase and multi-channel activations, multi-tiered influencers, out-of-home experiences or any of the other wonderful things we can do to bolster a campaign, there’s one big question brands need to ask themselves.
Unpacking the story, here’s what Tom Newman, Account Director at MG Empower, has to say:
“It’s all about the end-consumer. Marketers need to understand why audiences feel connected with a brand in order to create a strategy that strengthens the relationship and builds trust. So, the first step in any campaign is to determine whether the brand actually has a right to speak about sustainability. Does their product or service lend itself to sustainability? If not, this is best avoided. If so, it's about finding an authentic point of view within the conversation.
When working on an influencer strategy, it's essential to find credible voices whose values align with the brand. Failure to do so can do more harm than good. But when done right, influencer campaigns can be mutually beneficial – as good for marketing as it is for consumers.”
Interested in building an influencer marketing campaign?
Effective influencer campaigns can be a complex business. At MG Empower, we specialise in crafting bespoke campaigns that produce measurable results and can advise on ways to amplify any message – sustainability-driven or otherwise – across any channel in combination with digital, social, experiential and beyond.
Get in touch with our business development team today if you’d like to know more.
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