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Is Honesty Important In Marketing Today?

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With the term “fake news” engulfing the current media landscape, consumers are increasingly questioning validity of the content they engage with. What is authenticity and does it still exist?

With the term “fake news” engulfing the current media landscape, consumers are increasingly questioning the validity of the content they engage with. What is authenticity and does it still exist?

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In this article, we recap a session hosted by YouGov during #SMWLDN that unpacked their research into how people process the information and the content they see every day.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Younger People Are Avoiding Facebook in Favour of Snapchat
  • Brands Must Engage Authentically Rather Than For Publicity
  • People Trust Their Family But Not Celebrities
  • People Are Increasingly Distrustful Of Endorsements
  • Celebrities Who Are Raw And Candid Are Trusted More

YouGov conducted a quantitative study in August 2019 titled, “Honesty and Social Media – A Case of Sharing Without Caring?” that examined the platforms 2,000 social media using adults — those aged 16 years old and above and who occupied social media at least once in the past 30 days — as well as how they process the content they see.

The results revealed that Facebook is the most used social media network (71%), with Whatsapp coming in second (54%), followed by YouTube (52%), Twitter (34%), and Instagram (33%).

Younger people avoid Facebook and favour Snapchat

Only 14 percent of those interviewed favoured Snapchat, however, the study found that the usage of Facebook was significantly lower used amongst 16-24-year-olds compared to other age groups. Feldman suggested that the percentage for Snapchat would increase if those under 16 years old were taken into account.

PEOPLE TRUST THEIR FAMILY BUT NOT CELEBRITIES

When asked about the assumption of honesty and accuracy portrayed by the groups (family, friends, companies, brands, celebrities, influencers etc) followed on social media, 66 percent deemed family members the most honest. Companies captured more trust than celebrities which begs the question: what’s the real reason behind following a celebrity if people are wary of the honesty behind the lifestyle they’re subjecting themselves to seeing? Is it purely for entertainment?

PEOPLE ARE INCREASINGLY DISTRUSTFUL OF ENDORSEMENTS

Out of those surveyed, 27 percent have seen endorsements; 16% have seen endorsements from celebrities and influencers, whereas only 10 percent have seen them from companies. In the study, one interviewee noted, “some endorsements are so bad that I think less of the celebrity/influencer.” It appeared that if the partnership didn’t feel authentic, then the level of trust in the celebrity/influencer decreased.

ENGAGE AUTHENTICALLY RATHER THAN FOR PUBLICITY

Companies are harnessing social media in order to generate real and genuine user interactions between their demographic and brand. For example, when an ASOS customer received a match on Tinder but her potential date didn’t like the dress she was wearing in her display picture, she tweeted the horrific ordeal and copied in ASOS, who then went on to engage with her story and use her as a model for the dress online. Of those interviewed, 74% agreed that this exchange would not have been possible without social media. However, 52% were skeptical and believe ASOS only engaged for publicity. Yet, in total, over a third felt more positive towards the brand.

CELEBRITIES WHO ARE RAW AND CANDID ARE TRUSTED MORE

A skeptical outlook proved a running theme in determining trust. For example, in regards to celebrity mum Stacey Soloman’s stripped back, candid and raw Instagram posts about her journey pre and post-pregnancy, whilst 62% found it refreshing to see celebrities being honest in this way, there were still 18 percent who felt posts like these were in a bid to gain more followers.

WHILST IT HAS NEGATIVE CONNOTATIONS, SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE POSITIVELY PROGRESSIVE

Feldmen explores two other case studies, Kim Kardashian’s Instagram and the tragic death of Justin Edinburgh, the manager of Leyton Orient and former Spurs player, in order to conclude that dishonesty online is recognised, but celebrities are followed for escapism and amusement.

People tend to trust stories from people they actually know and can relate to and social media’s power is undeniable: ultimately, it has some positive associations.

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