Endorsements in the Age of Social Media

Endorsements, whether from celebrities, individual customers, or corporate customers, can significantly boost sales and lead to gains in many areas. The effects of celebrity endorsements have been studied as recently as 20 12, and these studies indicate that the benefits of an endorsement deal can make it a strong choice for gaining market share. Social media, however, provides new opportunities for companies to put endorsements to work. Traditional channels like celebrity-led advertisements still work, of course, but social media provides new vectors. Here, we take a look at some of the new options offered for endorsements by social media.

Celebrity Endorsements: Reaching With Someone Else’s Arms

The age of the simple celebrity endorsement is over, and in its place comes the use of social media to reach fans in a whole new way. Previously, celebrity endorsements might reach millions, but what percentage of those millions really held any enthusiasm for the celebrity? How many were loyal to that celebrity’s brand, and in turn became customers for the product or service being endorsed? The endorser, the product, and the medium itself all had to be in perfect step, or the endorsement would fall short of its potential.

Official fan pages, Tumblr blogs, and Twitter feeds change all that. Now, two of those steps are taken care of from the beginning of the process. Whoever follows a celebrity has at least some stake in what that celebrity has to say, or else they wouldn’t “like” their Facebook page or follow their Twitter. Those that a company reaches with this sort of endorsement always take the celebrity seriously, or at least take them ironically enough for their words to matter.

These endorsements do come with some legal precautions,  however, so be careful about the frequency with which they are deployed. Just because the endorsement comes through a new media channel doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to the same disclosure rules as other forms of sponsored content. Too much sponsored content from a given endorser could damage the endorser’s credibility with the user base, diminishing the overall effectiveness.

Sometimes, It’s Just Luck: Endorsements of Opportunity

Sometimes, something fortuitous happens and something you can use like an endorsement happens all on its own. A  celebrity may use your product in public, driving your vehicle or eating your food after a big game. While it can be tempting to use these “endorsements of  opportunity” outright, and they can provide significant benefits when carefully framed on your company’s Twitter feed, there are some concerns that come up.

Presenting this kind of accidental endorsement requires care, and can’t be framed as the celebrity providing a true endorsement without previous consent. (Celebrities and other companies keep their eyes on social media as well; they’ll find out.) Rather than trying to insert a relationship between the brand and the celebrity, just link to the picture, in its original context, with a declarative statement of who’s in it and what product is being used. Creating narratives is part of being human; your followers and potential customers will fill in the blanks on their own.

If you’re worried about the possibility of the celebrity taking exception, just ask if it’s okay to push the association. It’s possible that this will lead to a rejection, but if there’s a good match between your brand and the celebrity already, this can become a win-win relationship, enhancing the reach and relevance of both parties.

Testimonials: Push That Personal Touch

The power of an endorsement isn’t limited to celebrities anymore, either; some surveys conducted in the past five years have shown that as high as 90% of customers admit to being influenced by online reviews. Pushing online reviews from actual end users of a product or service can capitalize on this immense influence. Once you get a potential customer’s initial attention through whatever means, pull quotes and reviews on your website can further amplify their interest, but social media can take that reach to the next level.

If celebrity endorsements represent the aspirations of potential customers, individual testimonials represent the idea that “someone like me” could use the product. Social media with its free, easy access and significant capacity to spread ideas over and over, represents the perfect vector for this sort of down-to-earth testimony.

Consider giving those who review you through your own website the chance to spread the word through their own social media presence. A voluntary Facebook share or Pinterest pin isn’t subject to the same binding rules as conventional advertising, and the average Facebook user has hundreds of friends, many of whom likely run in similar professional or hobby circles and could make use of the same sorts of products.

Share Your Story

How have endorsements or testimonials worked out for you and your business in the past? Are you currently considering a move toward social media integration in your marketing? Tell us how you feel about the new tools available for endorsements in the comments.

 

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