Since the start of lockdown brand trust has become more important and consumers are more willing to call brands out for inauthentic and bad behaviour, especially on social media. Understanding and reflecting the mindset of the nation has therefore never been so important for brands.

As we spend more time on social media our expectations of platforms are also evolving. Ofcom’s Online Nation report shows we spend 18 minutes more on social media since lockdown began (vs 3 mins on news sites)1. Alongside this 40% agree they feel less pressure to portray perfect or unrealistic images of themselves on social (rising to 51% of GenZ & millennials)2.

This desire for authenticity and humanity is something consumers expect from brands as well. Kantar’s latest BrandZ report highlights the increasing importance of brand trust as a driver of growth (3x rise in contribution of corporate reputation to brand equity over the last decade), with “honesty & openness”, “respect & inclusion” and “identifying with & caring for consumers” the three main traits shown by trusted brands.3

This emerging ‘Era of the Public’3 is playing out faster than ever on social media. As the most responsive and reactive channel most marketers have, consumers expect progression not perfection from brands.

A recent study by Twitter found that only 7% of surveyed users want brands to return to their ‘normal’, pre-COVID tone of voice on the platform4. And in the context of wider societal issues and injustices that have played out alongside the pandemic on social platforms (from Black Lives Matter to trans rights and misinformation to name but a few) brands must build an open and accountable voice within social channels.

Social media can also drive understanding of the mood and mindset of the nation to inform paid campaigns alongside organic responses. Carlsberg’s recent campaign “Welcoming Back to the Pub” was fuelled by close daily monitoring of consumer sentiment and opinion, ensuring no message was tone-deaf or out of sync with ever-changing attitudes to lockdown easing5.

With ever-increasing scrutiny on social media platforms, brands must take the time to reflect the authenticity and openness that consumers expect from them. Humanity has been one of the defining features of COVID, and brands that fail to use social media to understand and connect with consumers will be called out quicker than ever.

1Ofcom ‘Online Nation’ 2020 – https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/internet-and-on-demand-research/online-nation

2Global WebIndex & WeAreSocial June 2020 – https://blog.globalwebindex.com/trends/social-media-covid-19/

3Kantar BrandZ Report 2020 – https://online.pubhtml5.com/bydd/yeib/#p=1

4https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/brands-not-revert-pre-covid-messaging-twitter-study-finds/1689652

5 https://www.marketingweek.com/carlsberg-marketing-campaign-welcome-back-pubs/

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