Rawthentic Voices Are the Secret to Social-First Transformation

Why micro-influencers are mightier than celebrities

Rawthentic is not just a buzzword; it’s a culture shift. It points to the power of genuine, unfiltered content that resonates deeply on a personal level with audiences, cutting through the veneer of polished ads.

It satisfies a craving for realness, an antidote to the often-airbrushed fiction of online personas. In this new social order, micro-influencers, with their modest yet highly engaged followings, are proving to be mighty.

For brands embracing this approach, the results are 6X engagement rates that dwarf overly produced celebrity endorsements at a fraction of the cost. And with 69% of consumers trusting recommendations made by influencers, the message is clear: smaller can indeed be mightier.

One of us or out of touch?

This question becomes increasingly significant, especially when considering the dichotomy between celebrity-endorsed vs. user-generated content (UGC). Celebrity or mega-influencer endorsements, while boasting broad reach and high visibility, often lack the connection that makes UGC so attractive with 70% of millennials relating to creators over celebrities.

UGC exists in the realm of micro-communities, reflecting the unfiltered experiences of individuals who share the same hopes, fears, and dreams as their followers. These communities are often spearheaded by passionate micro-influencers, who, unlike their mega-influencer or celebrity counterparts, tailor their content to cater to these niche interests. This focused approach allows for a deeper, rawthentic connection with their audience, fostering a sense of belonging among followers.

This movement towards a social-first approach isn’t just about platform preference—it’s about acknowledging the shift in consumer values and aesthetics and meeting them where they are. In this landscape, being “one of us” means embracing the imperfections, celebrating the every day and forging genuine connections. It means choosing collaboration over endorsement, dialogue over monologue and community over audience.

Navigate the nuances of brand authenticity

The quest for rawthentic is crucial to becoming a social-first brand; it’s a journey that balances the raw, unfiltered essence of social media with meaningful brand messaging. This equilibrium is nowhere more delicate than in the realm of influencer partnerships, where the sincerity of content and its alignment with brand messaging can make or break a campaign.

Viral Nation’s “edutainment” campaign with Chegg leveraged student influencers while embodying the principles of rawthentic. To relaunch Chegg’s TikTok presence, the partnership prioritized showcasing the brand as an essential education companion tool. Not as a one-way broadcast, but as a relatable conversation between students.

The success of a truly rawthentic social-first campaign hinges on finding creators whose personality resonates with the essence of the marketing message. The influencer’s natural voice must amplify rather than dilute the brand’s objectives. For Chegg, this meant curating influencers who could speak genuinely to the struggles and aspirations of modern students, embedding the brand’s product within a narrative that felt both sincere and engaging.

“Leaning into brand authenticity throughout our social-first marketing strategy has been a game changer,” explained Daisy Zhang, TikTok content strategy lead at Chegg. “Enabling us to present engaging, relatable learning content at the right time and place for our audience. This shift toward authentic engagement has allowed us to drive meaningful learning experiences in a way that feels natural and perfectly aligned with student’s cultural interests.”

Keep it real

In the heart of social media lies a genuine desire for connection. At the heart of that connection is the courage and commitment to becoming rawthentic. For brands, achieving this transformation can be challenging, especially when resource constraints are factored in.

Brands come to Viral Nation to find voices and communities that resonate with their product and tap into the “one of us” ethos. Viral Nation’s mission, through strategic creative and always-on content delivery, is to tastefully engage with influencer fanbases who view them not as distant figures, but as friends whose advice they can trust.

“Rawthenticity isn’t just a marketing strategy, it’s the backbone of meaningful engagement,” said Joe Gagliese, co-CEO and co-founder of Viral Nation. “At Viral Nation, we’ve seen firsthand how genuine content resonates with audiences, transforming passive viewers into active participants in a brand’s story.”

Emma Ferrara is the chief business development officer at Viral Nation, focused on delivering tailored, social-first strategies for new clients. She leads the new business and proposal development teams, advocating the shift to social transformation across B2B, B2C and DTC sectors.