October 19, 2017

In an increasingly changing digital landscape, relevance is a key differentiator in helping brands break through the clutter. At Golin, we know that relevance isn’t the only measurement of a brand, but we believe it’s the most important. And at PR Week’s Swipe Right Conference last week, leading speakers from top brands and agencies discussed the importance of brand relevance – and of reaching the ever-popular millennial masses.

So how did conference speakers say we can stay relevant?

Build Your Brand for Mobile and Real-Time

In order to reach today’s target audiences, you must be accessible to them while they’re on the go.

Let’s start with Zara, a brand beloved by young, fashion-forward women everywhere. In just 21 days, Zara is able to take merchandise from concept to production. Moving at the speed of culture is a critical component to capturing consumer attention in a world mesmerized by the clear, plastic heels that trendsetter Kim Kardashian wears to the grocery store.

What’s equally important is knowing the difference between being a trendsetter and trend follower. Take it from Claudia Oshry Soffer, the popular Instagram personality behind the hilarious @girlwithnojob. Once people get hip to trends, the trends aren’t trendy anymore. It’s imperative that brands have flexible marketing strategies that put the ever-changing needs of the consumers first, in order keep up with them in real-time.

Create Engaging Content

According to Tim Pool, (journalist/video producer at Timcast), by striving to be at the forefront of bigger issues, brands can position themselves as disruptive thought leaders and authentic content creators.

For example, the interviews within VICE’s Charlottesville documentary on white nationalist protestors weren’t sensationalized or narrative-driven. The piece allowed for the “characters” to showcase their true selves – an objective journalism tactic powered by newsworthy content that didn’t push an agenda.

P&G’s take on racial bias for My Black is Beautiful is another good example. The relaunched campaign celebrates cultural identity by sparking a conversation about racial prejudice. Its power lies in the fact that it doesn’t force opinions, but rather allows for thoughtful, candid discussions.

And by creating new ways to view the world, engaging content naturally follows.

Know Your Audience

Brands cannot afford to disconnect from their audiences. They will lose them.

Back in 2016, Spotify highlighted a few of the more bizarre user habits it noticed throughout the year, humanizing song data in a campaign brought to life throughout NYC’s subways. Consumers were able to relate to light hearted headlines like “Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?” during their daily commutes – times when they were already likely to be listening to Spotify.

Social content should be tailored to specific social platforms, rather than spammed across channels. According to Finola Austin, Refinery29’s senior brand strategist, each social media channel services a select audience: Facebook evokes an emotional response, Instagram celebrates aspirational work and Pinterest allows for attainability. Armed with this knowledge, brands are able to tap into those audience desires and platform DNAs in order to tailor content accordingly.

Incorporate Social Purpose

Consumers relate a brand’s actions to the brand’s values. How consumers view these brands impacts when and where they spend their money. Some companies over the past year – I won’t name names – have learned this lesson hard way, occasionally slipping up, or worse, demonstrating tone deaf responses to major social issues.

75% of millennials prefer and support brands that give back to society, while 63% of Gen Z’ers prefer to see real people in advertisements, versus celebrities.

Harness the Power of Influencer Marketing

As social media channels continue to grow, influencers are now building their own agencies rather than working as individual freelancers.

Today, there are more platforms than ever before featuring authentic influencers – whose endorsements are more efficient than paid ads and boast a higher return on investment (ROI) because of targeted exposure. If that’s not enough, 47% of online consumers use ad blockers, giving brands even more reason to put their dollars behind influencers.

So what did all of these sessions have in common?

Brands must increasingly adapt to stay relevant within the shifting vortex of today’s cultural landscape. They need to know what they stand for and embrace the opportunities where consumers are listening to what they have to say, and better yet, acting on it.

To survive and thrive in today’s fast-paced world, you must build, maintain and grow your relevance. Because if no one is paying attention to what you’re saying, you’re being ignored.