People of any generation can relate to the cringe felt when a member of an older generation tries to inject the current “hip” language into conversation. For millennials, it looks a lot like an older aunt saying that her dinner is “on fleek” or a parent saying that an outfit is “goals AF”. Coming from an older generation, it just feels forced and inauthentic.
The reality is that this behavior extends beyond people, to brands. Because a huge component of brand loyalty is relating to the consumer base, brands are constantly trying to be more relatable and more human, to fit in and gain traction with current and potential consumers. Unfortunately, however, this often falls flat. People value relatability in brands, but they also value authenticity, and much like an older relative trying to use the word “bae”, it just feels inauthentic.
Research has even shown that millennials in particular dislike when brands try to be funny and/or use slang- a study by Sprout Social reported that nearly 40% of people are annoyed by brands trying to use jargon on social media, and 32.3% are annoyed with brands that try to be funny when they clearly are not. There is a Twitter account that gained popularity called Brands Saying Bae, that poked fun at these instances.
— paxton&haniger fan🌹 (@jmagil) January 15, 2016
— Brands Saying Bae (@BrandsSayingBae) December 23, 2015
— Sonos (@Sonos) December 21, 2015
The reality is often that by the time brands catch on to slang, it is not cool anymore- and if it is still cool, the brand’s adoption of the slang is likely to make it seem very instantly uncool. In an article written about brands trying to be the “cool friend”, Digiday writer Tanya Dua wrote, “The use of terms like “bae” are quick fixes and shortcuts by brands unwilling or unable to make real, substantial efforts at engaging with their customers in a way that isn’t forced or pandering. They don’t work.”
So, if millennials are so turned off by brands inserting jargon into marketing and trying to be cool and funny, what can brands do to better connect with their audiences? It all goes back to relatability and authenticity. Every brand is different, just like every consumer base that brands are trying to reach are different. Thus, companies must do careful thinking around who exactly they are trying to reach, and what these people will relate to and want to engage with. There are, however, some steps that every brand can take to be more relatable and authentic.
Every brand should have a defined and recognizable personality. Thinking of words that describe a brand’s personality can help to cement it. When a brand has an established personality, it becomes more apparent when hopping on the bandwagon of certain jargon or trends will either fit into (or not fit into) that personality. Brands should also establish a cohesive appearance, so that consumers will begin to recognize the brand when they see it across various platforms. And perhaps most importantly, brands should be consistent in how they engage with consumers- and then they must actually do the engaging. There should be guidelines for the voice to be used by the brand on social media when communicating with consumers. Then, brands must use that voice to connect with the audience often, and make an effort to actually engage in conversations with consumers on social media. This is extremely important to developing relatability and helping the brand establish common ground with consumers.
Another step that brands can take towards being more relatable and authentic to consumers is by incorporating customers into marketing efforts through social media advocacy. Companies can engage loyal customers and encourage them to share positive messages on social media about the brand. These messages will come across to others as a lot more genuine, because they are coming from real people. Having a closer connection to consumers and including their voices in marketing campaigns will help to prevent brands from coming across as inauthentic.
Click here to learn more about how Fanzee can help facilitate a powerful social media advocacy campaign.