The always-on consumer of today wants always-on connectivity - and it better be fast too. More speed, more reliability, more everything. The promise of 5G is that this might become true - with browsing the news, streaming videos and online shopping all becoming easier and faster than ever before. According to GSMA intelligence, 1.5 billion global users will be surfing along the 5G highway by 2025. When compared to the number of current internet users — 4.57 billion according to Hootsuite and We Are Social’s Q2 Digital 2020 Report — this equates to a third of all current users able to access a 5G connection in just five years' time. In this faster, more reliable world, brands will have to build and maintain one-to-one relationships that their customers actually care about simply to stand out in the era of 5G.
The adoring advocates
Brands will battle in an increasingly crowded space for the limited attention span consumers will have in a faster and more connected world. That is easier said than done. One way in which brands can cut through the noise is by unleashing your superhero advocates - your passionate, and connected employees. Employees are often an organisation’s strongest advocates, and employees that connect and interact with consumers online help to create and reinforce a positive brand image. When a consumer loves a brand, and trusts those who talk about the brand - they purchase those products and services. Especially as according to Edelman, 53 per cent of global consumers see employees as the most credible source for learning about a company. Turning to employee advocacy will provide brands with a cost-effective and positive solution to building and promoting their reputation.
A great example of employee advocacy can be found from Subaru and its ‘One Little Moment’ campaign. The company initially challenged their employees to use a social group to capture and share special moments for 30 days using the hashtag #OneLittleMoment. What began as an internal initiative blossomed into a national campaign. Employees across Australia became spokespeople for Subaru and encouraged members of the community to get involved and share their own special moments. This approach created an astonishing 42 per cent increase in brand equity among young families, with an increase in sales and major lifts in ad recall, top of mind awareness, and message association. With the vast amount of content available online set to experience a major spike as 5G is gradually introduced, this authentic and UGC style of campaign is a fantastic way to maintain genuine connections with consumers and stand out from competitors
Divide and conquer
Another way that brands can help to get their message heard is by balancing between public and private communication channels. Brands must treat private and public channels cohesively, rather than as two separate strategies. By using public channels to guide consumers to private one-to-one conversations, where they can ask questions and discuss queries, it encourages them to return in the future and build brand loyalty. With public channels already full of noise, taking conversations into private channels will be vital. Brands who actively solve issues through private channels of communication, rather than referring a consumer to generic website pages, will take the first step to building a better, more valued relationship with their customers.
As discussed in Hootsuite’s Social Media Trends 2020 report, companies are already beginning to see the benefits of striking a balance between private and public channels. For instance, Citadel, a leading hedge fund, used a combination of public and private channels to stimulate excitement for their ‘DataOpen’ tournament, an event designed to recruit the brightest minds in mathematics. Public channels were used to raise awareness on social, while private channels helped connect prospective student applicants with career advisers. Citadel combined both approaches to great effect and saw the positive outcome this had on their brand. Applications for entry-level positions increased by 74 per cent and Citadel saw a 200 per cent higher click-through rate compared to previous paid advertising efforts created to initially promote the tournament. As content becomes even more pervasive and readily available, those who have already established a meaningful relationship with Citadel are far more likely to notice it in the future and actively seek it out.
Remember the relationship truths
Remember that relationships are not just built by talking at the right time and using the right people to spread the message. You have to make it interesting. The boring push out of same-old-lame-old messages will kill a relationship as quickly as it starts. No one likes to listen to the other person / brand talk all the time about themselves. Listen, and endeavour to surprise and delight or they will switch off as fast as 5G can switch them on.
The dawning of 5G
5G is heralding a new era for brands. As it becomes more accessible, both brands and consumers will be producing more online content. As a result, they will have to ensure their content can cut through the noise in increasingly competitive markets. This increase in competition won’t be coming from just competitors either, as UGC is expected to see a generous increase too, meaning further saturation for brands trying to get their voices heard. The key to cracking this is to build trust and meaningful relationships with customers through the likes of employee advocacy, using the right balance of communication channels, and creating compelling moments of engagement. By truly committing to these principles, and listening to the ever-changing needs of their customers, brands can ensure they stand taller in the unrelenting competition of a world enthralled by 5G.
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Henk Campher, Vice President Corporate Marketing, Hootsuite