Authenticity is everything to consumers when it comes to brands which is interesting as people aren’t always entirely honest themselves, especially online.
A report by Ofcom found that just 61 per cent say the photos and videos they post accurately represent themselves. Furthermore, 27 per cent admit that they try to make their life appear more interesting than it actually is on social media.
This is perhaps one reason why many people are so good at identifying when brands aren’t being entirely authentic. According to Ofcom’s figures, published in the watchdog’s Communications Market Report, nearly one in five people believe it is easy to recognise if an online image or video is real or truthful. Young people in particular seem to be able to spot the authenticity behind a piece of online content, although somewhat curiously, they’re most likely to not be bothered even if they know it is false.
Of course, this is not a green light for brands to be dishonest in marketing. But it’s a reflection of just how digital-savvy 18 to 34-year-olds in particular have become, and that they accept a few slight embellishments here and there as that’s exactly what they do themselves.
Women most likely to embellish facts online
While more than a quarter of people overall admit to trying to make their life appear more interesting online, it seems this is more true among women than men. Indeed, 32 per cent of females said they try to look more interesting on social media, compared with 21 per cent of males. Similarly, only 58 per cent of women said their selfies and posts accurately represent them, compared with 63 per cent of men.
Images are becoming a key communications tool
Another interesting finding of the Ofcom report was that people increasingly use emojis to convey a message, while more than 158 million people around the world now use image-sharing app Snapchat to converse every day. Marketers have already started to respond to these trends, with organisations as diverse as McDonald’s and IKEA using emojis to reach out to young people, while Channel 4’s recent use of Snapchat to get people watching drama show Ackley Bridge was an exciting example of how the app can help a brand get a message to a target audience.
Take-up of mobile devices has gone up dramatically
The number of people owning a smartphone has risen by 37 per cent since 2012, while tablet take-up has gone up by 49 per cent. With increased data allowances and ever-improving wireless broadband capability, UK consumers are increasingly seeing mobile devices as their primary means of getting online. Marketers must therefore ensure their web presence is optimised for mobile platforms and different operating systems, as consumers will swiftly click away if a website doesn’t offer a good user experience.
Three-quarters of adults have a Facebook account
Britons’ social media addiction shows no sign of abating, as Ofcom figures show 72 per cent of UK adults now have a Facebook profile, while 42 per cent have signed up to WhatsApp and 35 per cent are on Twitter. The report also revealed that people check their social media pages very regularly, with 34 per cent of Facebook users checking their profile in the last ten minutes. It’s a basic principle of marketing that brands need to be where their customers are, so a strong social media presence can be invaluable in building brand awareness, trust and advocacy.
The Ofcom report is a reminder of how the digital revolution has transformed people’s lives and how marketers need to respond to ever-changing and evolving digital habits. The fact people live much of their lives online and actively try to manipulate their image means they’re increasingly becoming tuned into when brands do the same.