Fast Facts on Participation Marketing
As much as brands like to engage with consumers, consumers are, perhaps unsurprisingly, less eager to return the favor. After all, the benefits tend to skew heavily toward the brand.
According to a study conducted by TNS and J. Walter Thompson, consumers resent being asked to advertise on behalf of brands.
58% of consumers say they hate that brands waste their time. And a full 55% say this kind of behavior deters them from buying products by the brand.
While the study was conducted in the Asia-Pacific region and precise rates of disillusionment and cynicism are likely to vary across geographies, the lessons learned are certainly applicable stateside. And it’s important data to heed. After all, there’s little worse to a marketer than investing in a campaign that not only doesn’t win over consumers but also actively turns them off.
Some key takeaways from the study:
- 37% of consumers feel like they are doing work for the brand when asked to participate in online marketing campaigns.
- 55% avoid clicking on advertisers’ digital campaigns because they don¹t want to encourage more ad targeting.
- Just 8% are interested in creating brand content. (30% were interested in interacting with it if it’s entertaining or interesting. Just over half might consider passively consuming it.)
So how, as marketers, can we maximize the effectiveness of our work? How can we grow their brands without falling victim to the paradox that says the harder we try to engage with consumers, the greater our risk of alienating them? How do we win over consumers and escape the growing dangers of online backlash toward brands? According to JWT’s Angela Morris, the first step is recognizing that participation does not correlate to engagement. (And with the rise of backlash trends like bash-tagging, even engagement isn’t always a win.)
Consider the following suggestions.
- Avoid blindly asking for input. Don’t make your target audience work for you. Instead, give them content that’s entertaining or interesting. Create something they might want to like or share. Give them social currency.
- Don’t create content just for content’s sake. And don’t host an event just to host an event. Instead, ensure that each marketing initiative has a specific purpose and is strategically developed to achieve that purpose.
- Stay true to the brand’s vision. Make sure the brand’s identity sincerely underlies every piece of content and every type of engagement.
- And create for people, not brands. Put the actual audience — not necessarily the client executives — at the heart of the experiences you create.
When GOXD helped Mercedes-Benz activate its sponsorship of Fashion Week, we started by exploring what the target audience was craving. We found that young stylish New Yorkers making their way through New York Fashion Week shared a basic hope for logistical ease, a desire for status, and a sometimes-hidden aspiration to take the catwalk themselves. We answered by creating a participatory experience that delivered rides throughout the city, tickets to the hottest fashion shows, and at its core, a contest to be the new face of Derek Lam’s latest line.
It was a physical-meets-digital campaign with a purpose. It asked for audience participation but it in a meaningful way. In a way that embodied the client’s brand identity, tapped into the audience’s psyche, and delivered value to all involved.