Like many others, my friends and I started our new year with a 2023 vision board, pulling photos of our perfect aesthetics. Some had spa days and wine nights, while others included festivals and sunshine. But one thing was constant—we are all finding ways to take control of our happiness and make time for our mental health. That means spending less time scrolling through IG and more time communicating IRL.
According to an analysis by U.S-based data management firm Harmony Healthcare IT, 42% of Gen Z have a diagnosed mental health condition. Given the stress of the last few years and the continued rise in celebrities joining awareness efforts, consumers place a greater emphasis on mental health—particularly the effects of social media and technology on mental and emotional well-being. Not only has social media become an easy tool to promote unrealistic standards of living, but studies also show some correlation between high use of social media and increased levels of stress and depression.
As a result, not only are consumers prioritizing spending less time on social in 2023, but they are also carefully choosing who they follow and are more selective with the type of content they consume. This means it is critical for brands to rethink how, when, and where they engage with consumers on social media and beyond.
Here are three best practices for brands to keep mental health center stage and connect authentically with their audience—benefitting both consumers and their bottom line.
Strategically partner with influencers
While consumers reevaluate the type of content they engage with and limit the accounts they follow, influencers continue to have significant sway on which brands people are willing to try—particularly for Gen Z and younger millennials. For brands, identifying the right influencer(s) who authentically speaks to their target market and embraces the essence of their brand is more important than ever. Consumers can see through sponsored posts with generic messaging. Partnered content must be personalized to authentically tie to the follower’s individual wants and needs—or it will be quickly dismissed.
For example, when Miller Lite partnered with J Balvin to launch their limited-edition aluminum pints, they did more than just revamp their packaging. By sharing the importance of being your most authentic self and offering consumers an exclusive opportunity to meet José, the brand empowered consumers to drop the persona they project and enjoy a beer as their true selves—with their real friends. The Miller Lite x J Balvin pints became something much more meaningful than a cool can of beer—it became a symbol of authenticity.
For brands, answering the question, “What does the consumer get from this, and how does this positively impact their lives?” will be instrumental in the success of marketing campaigns and influencer partnerships.
Fight digital burnout
As consumers continue to rely more on tablets, laptops, and phones in both their personal and professional lives, the risk of digital burnout continues to rise. To combat this, brands should turn to tangible materials and experiences to catch consumers’ attention and extend engagement.
After a few years of quarantine and social distancing, the general public is ready for experiences in real life. Whether it be through direct sampling, pop-up events, or flyaway sweepstakes, consumers are ready to interact in person. The continued rise in sold-out concerts, festivals, and sporting events across the U.S. shows this is not a fleeting trend.
Brands should lean into this trend by empowering consumers to engage through in-person experiences that are relevant and meaningful to them, while also continuing to meet them in digital spaces in unique and personalized ways. Engaging seamlessly across channels can help build consumer trust and elevate brand equity. And being there for consumers when and how they need gives them the space to engage in the ways that feel right for them at the time.
Celebrate human connections
In the digital age, consumers often find themselves isolated. Groceries are delivered, shopping is done online, office meetings are emails, and even casual gym interactions are replaced with an at-home Peloton ride. In a world that is more interconnected than ever and allows us to communicate with people across the globe instantaneously, consumers still find themselves isolated and lonely.
Brands that create authentic connections with consumers through their passion points and engage in uniquely human ways will set themselves up for success in 2023 and beyond. Remind your consumers that engagement is about mutual human connections and shared beliefs, not just social likes. Feelings of belonging, nostalgia, and the authentic bonds we share as humans are what sets us apart. And leveraging technology in the right ways will enable your brand to optimize and curate the best consumer experience without losing that human connection.
Whether through quality influencer partnerships, tangible experiences, or true human connections, brands that take the extra effort to keep mental health center stage and connect authentically with their audience will reap the rewards, bringing consumers closer to their brand.