If your company doesn’t develop an engaging social media strategy, you could be bypassing a third of your target market, according to recent research.

The study from affilinet found that social media engagement has an influence on thirty-three percent of us every month, with one in ten influenced every day by what we see on social media.

Thirty-six percent of the 2,000 people involved in the study were found to be influenced by platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest every month, while 10% of the consumers, who were all aged 18+, were influenced every single day and a further 16% influenced weekly. This highlights the growing necessity for businesses to incorporate a social media strategy – particularly for engagement – into their marketing efforts.

Social media engagement

More than a third (36%) of respondents said they were more likely to be influenced by an opinion on social media if the account was run by ‘an expert on the subject’. Nearly one in three (29%) would ‘trust experts’ opinion’ whilst 17% would need it to ‘relate to their circumstances’. Just 11% claimed they would be influenced by a famous person and only 9% said the account is more credible if it had ‘lots of followers’.

On the findings, Helen Southgate, UK managing director of affilinet, said: “Recently we have seen the rise of social media influencers, similar to bloggers, but without the blogs, we can’t get enough of their Instagram accounts or Pinterest boards, their tweets and moving Facebook posts. From DIY designs and recipe ideas through to fashion inspiration and fitness techniques, these accounts are becoming our new addictions.

“Social media influencers are the next big thing when it comes to marketing. Already, we are seeing far more sponsored and promotional posts and, while there has been some backlash in certain instances, providing the sponsoring brands are relevant to the audience and authentic to the account, they are generally very well-received by the followers.”

Regulation

The rising influence of brands and industry experts on social media has resulted in new rules from The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network. The guidelines include a focus on ‘digital influencers’ who must follow three principles:

  • Disclose clearly and prominently whether content has been paid for
  • Be open about other commercial relationships that might be relevant to the content
  • Give genuine views on markets, businesses, good or services

There are also further instructions for individuals and companies not to “write, commission, or publish fake reviews”, including family and friends, with an equal and fair collection of reviews and transparency in how they are published.

This comes a year after Igniyte contributed to a report from the Competition and Markets Authority which is cracking down on fake reviews online. The new guidelines will ensure that blurred lines between general posts and paid ads are clearer for consumers who can often be unknowingly influenced by a sponsored post with a lack of transparency from brands and celebrities.

New rules indicate that “#ad” and “spon” should now appear on an advertised video or image by a brand, or if the endorsement is paid for. Companies such as L’Oreal have recently been caught out for failing to follow the rules and it will be interesting to see how the new rules are regulated in the coming months.

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