Parasocial Relationships – Another Marketing Buzzword, or a Promising Consumer Trend?

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Parasocial Relationships – Another Marketing Buzzword, or a Promising Consumer Trend?

By Samantha Brooks on 17 December, 2021

As technology continues to advance, many of us turn to our devices for entertainment and connection with others. It may not be surprising then that some individuals carry on “relationships” with people they only know through the screen. These parasocial relationships we build between ourselves and celebrities or influencers, although seemingly artificial, can have real implications for our behaviour, mental health and well-being. 

Following the quarantine periods of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, parasocial relationships grew both in frequency and intensity as people began to supplement real social interactions and intimacy with engagement in digital media. The popularisation of internet personalities and their willingness to share their lives online has somewhat blurred the lines of reality for many young people in recent times.

Nowadays, a passing comment from Harry Styles regarding his favourite fabric softener can sell a product out for months. Clearly, we must not discount the value of those who feel closely bonded to a particular personality.

Leveraging the Intensity of Parasocial Relationships

So, what role does this phenomenon play in digital marketing? How, as marketers, can we leverage parasocial relationships to improve brand loyalty and equity?

As we know, Millennials and Gen Z avoid promotional content like The Plague. When bypassing ads is as simple as a scroll, younger generations raised on digital media have the ability to tune out advertising messages as they wish. This is why capitalising from popular personas and authentic consumer interactions is so important in times like these.

Essentially, young people are craving authenticity and intimacy from digital creators, and this translates into how they interact with brands. They are far more likely to check out a product if it is recommended by Kim Kardashian, than by a 30-second radio ad. As such, marketers must adapt to these changing consumer trends. 

Now, we aren’t necessarily recommending influencer or celebrity endorsements for every brand. However, the concept and popularisation of Parasocial Interactions and Relationships reveal an interesting insight into how brands will need to adjust their digital messages in the coming years. 

Here are some tips from Fuse to assist your brand to ride the wave of Parasocial Relationships and Interactions:

  • Speak to your audience in their language

The best way to build authentic communications with your followers is to speak to them in a way that remains conversational and approachable. Familiarise yourself with your audience and the language that they use online. Keep up to date with the niche internet trends that interest your consumers, and keep yourself on the right side of widespread inside jokes that form. Immerse yourself in your consumer’s digital culture. 

  • Seamlessly integrate promotional messages with regular content

As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, young consumers are inclined to filter out inauthentic messaging very easily. Discuss your products in a way that resonates with your audience; explain how it addresses their wants and needs. Don’t force it upon your audience, rather, integrate it amongst Evergreen posts. 

Another great way to do this is to immerse yourself within the same spaces as your consumers. Interact with posts that you know meet their interests – whether it be reposting viral images, commenting on popular posts, or liking comments. Consumers love seeing brands outside of the restriction of their own pages.  

  • Build and interact with your loyal community of consumers

This one is a given, however, it’s important to adjust the way you do this to suit the expectations of your audience. Respond to their comments, encourage engagement through UGC, repost consumer reviews and images, and most importantly, speak to them as though they are your friends. Build relationships that drive brand loyalty. 

The transition to shifting your content and strategy to cater to the parasocial needs of young audiences may be a slight adjustment or a massive step for your brand. If you require any assistance in getting started, get in touch with our team to see how we can get your brand back on track to consumer trends – or 3198 4890.

If you have a question and want to get in touch, contact us or call us 07 3198 4890. If you are interested in keeping up to date with Fuse, subscribe to our enews.