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What’s NEXT 2023: Why purpose-driven marketing matters

Social media is more powerful than it’s ever been. It influences our purchases, our conversations, and even our values. With this power comes a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to social issues. 

Today’s consumers expect brands to speak out about social movements and use their platforms for the greater good. In fact, Edelman’s Trust report highlights that a brand’s choice to speak up about societal events can influence the purchasing behaviour of consumers; therefore, brands really are expected to speak up about contentious topics. 

What is purpose-driven marketing?

At its core, purpose-driven marketing is all about connecting with audiences by speaking about topics that are meaningful to them. These topics may span a range of different social issues, including diversity, climate change, mental health, and animal welfare.

However, purpose-driven marketing doesn’t end with speaking up, it also involves acting in the interest of the greater good. Today’s brands have a wider responsibility to make a social impact by fuelling conversations about important issues and educating their audiences on contentious topics. 

Why is purpose-driven marketing important?

This purpose-driven approach is important for the following reasons: 

  • Today’s consumers care

Today’s consumers care more about social issues than ever before, especially the younger generations. These consumers have formed strong views on a range of issues, and aren’t afraid to speak up. 

In fact, Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer found that 70% of Gen Z are involved in a social or political cause, and 73% of them purchase from brands that align with their beliefs and values. 

  • Influencers are passionate about social issues

As well as consumers, today’s influencers also value a purpose-driven approach. 

In a study conducted by influencer marketing platform Vamp, it was found that almost 70% of creators on the platform use their social media platforms to speak about important social and environmental issues. 

Creators care about making a positive impact, and they’re using their following and influence to do so. 

  • Purpose-driven marketing drives real changes

The more we talk about a topic on the public stage, the more we work towards making tangible changes. 

Brands and influencers have a lot of power over their audiences. So, by working together to educate, advocate and inform, they’re able to bring about real social changes. 

Authenticity and purpose-driven marketing 

For brands, it’s clear that a purpose-driven approach is important when it comes to both gaining a good reputation and garnering the trust of their audience. 

However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

Brands must genuinely want to make a change. They need to be authentic in their approach, as ingenuine or tokenistic marking can cause them to receive more backlash than if they didn’t speak up at all. So, it’s important for brands to advocate in meaningful and genuine ways, rather than using social issues as an avenue to gain more followers and recognition. 

Today’s consumers want brands to speak up and use their platform in positive and constructive ways, so purpose-driven marketing should be on the agenda for businesses big and small. 

The 4 key elements to a purpose-driven approach

For purpose-driven marketing to be successful, there are 4 key elements that must be considered:

  1. Defining clear brand values

Having clear brand values is important, as purpose-driven marketing is all about values. 

Setting clear values will help you choose which social issues to speak about on your platform in an authentic way. For example, if diversity is built into the core values of your brand, then speaking up on diversity will be genuine and well-received by your audience.

Aligning your values with the topics you choose to cover will ensure that your messaging is clear and authentic. 

  1. Engaging with affected voices

Social issues are varied and complex. As such, you’re not always going to understand an issue or experience, and that’s okay. 

However, if you are going to speak up on these issues, it’s important to ensure that any messaging on these topics goes through the voice of someone who can relate to them. Whether it’s someone from within your organisation or someone you collaborate with, make sure to use credible voices when covering an issue you don’t fully understand. This will reduce the likelihood of spreading misinformation, and it’ll show that you genuinely want to make an impact. 

  1. Taking action

It’s one thing to say something, but it’s another thing to do it.

Make sure that you’re genuinely contributing to the causes you speak about on social media. Whether it’s making a donation, educating or volunteering, make sure you’re actually acting on your values, as failure to do so will make your marketing efforts ingenuine. 

  1. Upholding a long-term commitment to your values

It’s not enough to run one social justice campaign or to post a few advocacy stories on Instagram. It’s important to maintain a long-term commitment to your values and actually incorporate them into your business. 

This is why it’s crucial to clearly define your values and speak up on issues that are important to you because if you genuinely care, it shouldn’t be hard to commit long-term.

Key pieces of advice

Be genuine

As you already know, authenticity is a big player in purpose-driven marketing. In fact, brands use purpose-driven marketing as a tactic to maintain their authenticity, so it’s important to really focus on acting in ways that align with your values. 

If you’re not speaking up on social issues for the right reasons, your audience will know. This can be detrimental to your entire brand, so make sure your brand actually resonates with the issues you speak about. 

Partner with the right creators

Collaborate with influencers that share similar values to your brand. This will help you maintain authenticity whilst bringing more awareness to the causes you care about. 

Here are a few helpful tips when partnering with creators for purpose-driven marketing:

  • Make sure you’re on the same page as the creators you’re collaborating with, as failure to do this will seem inauthentic.
  • Influencers are at the forefront of conversations and they know how to spread information effectively. It’s important to give them creative freedom and allow them to use their expertise. As such, it’s helpful to involve them as much as you can when devising your marketing strategies.
  • Create long-term partnerships with your creators. It shows your followers that your advocacy isn’t a one-off stunt and that you’re truly committed to making changes. 

Recognise when you have the right to speak out about an issue

Even though it may be tempting to speak up on every issue you care about, sometimes this causes more harm than good, especially when you’re not fully informed. 

You won’t always have the right to speak up about something, so find someone who does have this right, and work with them. Speaking up at the wrong time can appear tone-deaf, and it can seem like you’re using social issues to gain recognition for your brand. 

Consider whether your voice is the right voice, and make sure you’re contributing in ways that won’t overshadow the issues at hand.

Define clear values

In today’s marketing landscape, being socially responsible is more important than ever before.

Feigning social responsibility will set you up to fail, as transparency is easy to read in a society that values authenticity and social action. As such, businesses should strive to define clear values and partner with causes and influencers that align with these values. 

Social media has changed for the better, with purpose-driven efforts taking centre stage.

It’s up to today’s influencers and brands to work together to help make a real impact, whilst staying true to the brand’s values.

This article is written by Aaron Brooksco-founder of Vamp.

The insight is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series under What’s NEXT 2023What’s NEXT 2023 is a multi-platform industry initiative which features marketing and industry leaders in APAC sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share on upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to be part of the series. 

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

What’s NEXT 2023 Interview: Giving creative freedom to influencers could actually ‘surprise’ marketers

Singapore –  Influencer marketing has been gaining traction within the industry because of its ability to help brands get in front of new audiences and drive consumer engagement. Yet as a growing channel, it’s inevitable that marketers will still have to contend with the challenges of new platforms, new trends across social and evolving audience interests.

As part of MARKETECH APAC’s ‘What’s NEXT 2023: Interview Series’, Aaron Brooks, co-founder and president of influencer marketing platform Vamp and Pauline Linton, head of brand communications and advocacy at Adobe shared their insights on how brands could face these challenges in the inaugural episode of What’s NEXT’s interview series.  In the conversation, they provide an insider’s perspective on how the influencer marketing space is evolving, emerging key trends, as well as what’s in store for the industry moving into 2023. 

How has influencer marketing evolved from a tech enabler and top brand’s perspective?  

Kicking off the interview, Brooks shared how Vamp came into existence. Starting from content generation and using social platforms to help brands source creative, Vamp later developed into an influencer marketing platform designed to make collaborating with influencers simpler and easier.

“It was an opportunity to build a single solution that would just simplify that whole process. We wanted to simplify campaign management workflow, facilitate direct communication between collaborators, and build a proprietary algorithm that would help match-make brands to creators. Of course, you’ve got to have access to first-party data to be able to track performance and campaign ROAS, as well. So really, that’s where we’ve been focusing our efforts,” Brooks explained.

Coming from the end user’s perspective, Linton shared how Adobe’s approach to influencer marketing has evolved over the past years. “There was never really an influencer marketing programme when I was agency-side or when I first started at Adobe. I think influencers were always seen as ‘how are we going to continue to amplify’ or just as another distribution channel for our marketing campaigns,” she commented.

Linton also added that their use of influencers has evolved as the market has changed, and as their communications got more sophisticated. She said, “We realised the value of social media in our broader comms programme and how important influencers were to [localise] content creation for us across Asia Pacific.”

The value of influencers in the ideation stage 

Influencers are valued for their ability to amplify a brand’s marketing initiatives. But as influencers are now seen more as ‘creators’, the multiplier effect of having them involved in both the ideation phase, as well as being the means to generate mass-awareness of the message, is something we expect to see more of.

Linton gives a nod to this – and references how Adobe’s campaign approach has changed over the years from having influencers simply boost messages to audiences, to involving them in the ideation and planning stages. 

“We’ve evolved our strategy from influencers being put on every campaign to extend our campaigns as amplifiers, to really bringing them in at the very ideation and planning stage, and thinking about them more [as] content generators and ideators, and not just to amplify our programmes,” she said.

Moreover, she said that giving influencers creative control could ‘surprise’ marketers. “We started off as being really protective with our brand, and then we realised that, actually, influencers had better ideas than we did, so we’ve learnt to relinquish some of that creative control.”

On the other hand, Brooks also mentioned four key things that brands should consider when activating their influencer marketing strategies. These are (1) defining why your brand wants to work with creators, (2) treating influencers like the content experts they are, (3) testing and learning by creating various content to find the right format and channels, and (4) treating creators as brand ambassadors.

“We’re seeing now, more than ever, brands building up relationships with creators, and then using that squad for multiple and repeat activations. Not just activating on a project-by-project basis, but having a long-term view of creator and influencer marketing as well,” he added.

‘What’s NEXT’ for the influencer marketing space?

The coming years can be unpredictable for the marketing industry. That said, Brooks and Linton also gave their insights into where the influencer marketing industry is heading, including indications of some of the plans Vamp and Adobe have moving forward.

According to Brooks, influencer marketing has already reached a point where it’s already become a mainstay within the marketing mix. He added, “Once an emerging channel, it really has gained acceptance as a performance marketing channel.”

Speaking of his experience, Brooks mentioned that brands want access to better data, as they want to understand how their organic performance is creating impact, as a means to justify budget spend. To address this, Brooks said that Vamp continues to evolve its technology to prioritise their analytics capability, and providing deeper insights. 

Of course, the talk on the future of marketing would not be complete without reference to the metaverse, and VR/AR technologies. To this, Linton mentioned that Adobe is thinking about mixed mediums or realities where they can create different modes of engagement with influencers. 

“The insight that we get from influencers [are] really shaping the way we approach 2023. There’s a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to,” Linton concluded. 

There’s certainly a lot to look forward to in the marketing industry for 2023. From a tech enabler and top brand’s perspective, you can hear more influencer marketing insights from Brooks and Linton by watching the full interview HERE.

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

MARKETECH APAC webinar discusses how influencer marketing can empower brands in 2023 and beyond

Singapore – The influencer marketing industry and creator economy is booming thanks to a wave of new innovations we’re seeing happening across social media channels. Influencers are becoming household names across the globe, and brands are responding by jumping into the influencer channel to drive successful marketing strategies. As we head into a new calendar year, how should brands maximise the value of their investment in content creators to reach more audiences at scale?

MARKETECH APAC’s latest webinar, ‘What’s NEXT 2023: Influencer Marketing in APAC’, provides answers to this question. In his presentation, Aaron Brooks, co-founder & president of influencer marketing platform Vamp, discussed the evolution of influencer marketing as a brand strategy, the key trends to watch out for in the space, and shared insights on how brands can best participate in the creator economy moving forward. 

According to Brooks, the emergence of digital web 2.0 technologies changed the way marketers interact with their audiences, and that said evolution has greatly benefitted the influencer marketing space. In fact, global influencer marketing is expected to reach $143b by 2030 — amounting to a compound annual growth rate of 33.4%.

Despite this anticipated growth, brands are looking for a seamless experiences collaborating with creators, and there are still actions the company is taking to remove the complexities of the creator economy. To this, Brooks said, “For this efficient experience to happen, we need to think of ourselves as being part of a broader ecosystem that connects the brands and the agencies to the community that helps them activate social content. We already have the critical masses on each platform, and it’s where brand activity needs to happen. Our role as a technology provider is connecting all these parts back to creators, who really exist at the core of this ecosystem.”

He shared key insights brands should consider adopting, in order for them to future-proof their influencer marketing strategies. This includes moving away from a one-size-fits-all perspective and instead thinking of platform-based approaches to be in line with the brand’s overall marketing objectives.

Speaking from his experience with Vamp’s clients, Brooks likewise mentions the importance of boosting creators’ organic content to drive results. “This is really important for a few reasons. When clients boost their organic content through paid media, you are basically giving the content a second lease of life that helps push customers further down the purchase funnel and drives the performance element of a campaign,” he explained. 

He specifically mentioned the importance of leveraging the power of video for content creation. According to Brooks, about 79% of TikTok users said they discovered new brands through the app. From a content format performance perspective, he referenced Instagram reels being 29% more efficient than stories, and 3.8 times more cost-efficient than feed posts. Reels also have 25% more return on ad spend (ROAS) than other IG content.

As Brooks wrapped up his presentation, he shared some actions brands can apply to their influencer marketing approach. His first tip is to apply a squad strategy when selecting a creator mix for your brand, in order to reach all consumer types and sub-niche audiences. This includes recruiting micro-creators who tend to have much more engaged audiences, and using creators from a broad selection of interest groups. He also mentioned it is important for brands to “mirror the fabric of everyday life” by creating authentic advocacy content. Lastly, he recommended using creators to build a digital asset library that has a constant stream of original content, so brands can rise to the challenge of continuously engaging with consumers on different online channels.

Brooks was later joined by industry experts for the panel discussion during the latter part of the webinar, including Ruben Ahmed, director of marketing at HP ANZ; Isabel Falco, chief digital & marketing officer at L’Oréal Philippines; and Jonathan Gerard, head of production at VaynerMedia Asia Pacific.

On-demand access to the What’s NEXT 2023: Influencer Marketing in APAC webinar is now available here.