The Rise of Influencer Marketing

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Marketing and advertising are inseparable but recently traditional advertising has become saturated and increasingly less effective. This is bad news for the marketing industry. Marketers are now having to find more innovative means of getting positive engagement with their products and increase their brand awareness.

The rise of bloggers, vloggers and the immense influence social media, mean that new opportunities are arising online. Today, non-celebrities and bloggers are gaining vast and loyal online followings- something marketing companies are taking a great interest in. Our daily social media activity is constant and therefore, we have more contact with influential online figures than we do with say, a television advert or something on the radio.

During a TV ad, do you ever pick up your phone and check your Instagram/twitter feed until the programme resumes? Most of us do. We are able zone out on traditional advertisements and engage with things that we, as the consumer, find more personally relevant and interesting. The instantaneous nature of the internet also means consumers have become much more savvy and aware of deliberate advertisements. Our generation have adapted, becoming much more selective with what information we choose or choose not to listen to. So, what are marketing companies doing about this?

The rise of Influencer Marketing

Definition: Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole.

As a digital content agency, we have noticed that more and more brands are seeking online influences as a means of endorsing a product. Previously advertising has generally focused on a target audience, but influencer marketing homes in on an influential figure with a strong online presence.

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Example

A new parent needing a pram. Often the parent is drowned by information, advertisement, and the classic predicament; too much choice. Enter the influencer- which in this case would likely be a member of the rising cult of the ‘Instagram Mum’. These women have clambered up Instagram ladder of fame through their honest blogging about parenthood. Their followers are loyal, and their online presence is strong. So, if these women were to start using a specific brand of pram, post a photo on their feed, or mention it in their blogs- new parents or anyone in the market for a pram will be heavily swayed to purchase said pram.

According to recent survey; 63% of markets surveyed had increased their budgets for influencer marketing in 2017. Marketing is fluid and trends come and go rapidly, so its understandable why marketers are investing in these influential figures as opposed to throwing money at traditional advertisement. With nearly 40% of Twitter users saying they've made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer- if companies aren't starting to factor this type of advertising into their budget, they're missing a trick. 

Celebrities vs. online figures

Influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily mean paying celebrities to become a brand ambassador. In fact, companies often favour non-celebrities. The power of coercion and persuasion are becoming more difficult as the consumer becomes more clued up on marketing techniques. 

There is huge difference between engagement and reach. Often celebrities have significant reach but lack engagement. An Instagram story of Harry Styles talking about the latest model of Bugaboo pram may have enormous reach- seen by hundreds of thousands, but consumers struggle to engage with a celebrity that clearly doesn’t believe in the product itself. Even when the product does coincide with the celebrity’s followers and target audience, maybe Harry Styles and a designer watch, there is so much celebrity endorsement online these days that the consumers are becoming immune to celebrity influence through social media. Reality TV stars have water-logged this type of marketing. An almost unbearable amount of advertising on one Instagram page means that a consumer loses trust in the individual and thus, in any brand advertised.

Non-celebrity influences on the other hand have engaged followers, who genuinely feel they can connect with the individual on a peer-to-peer level, rather than influencer and consumer. These individuals have more time to reply to comments, creating real bonds with their followers, which earns them much sought after trust. Again, trust in the individual means trust in the product. So, paying out lots for a celebrity to endorse a product isn't always effective. 

How to choose the right influencer?

1.     Budget doesn’t mean success. Throwing money at an influencer and hoping your product will sell is not the answer. Research your audience and research the influencer. Whether it’s through hashtag trends, or similar following, it's imperative that you find the right individual. Quality over quantity is key.

2.  Create a good relationship between the influencer and yourself. Your influencer has to believe in your brand, otherwise it will be false and obviously forced- remember, don't underestimate the consumer. Read their blogs, watch their vlogs, follow them. Show interest in what they’re doing and why they're doing it, then think about why they would want to endorse your product. 

3.   Be aware of the limitations. Influencer marketing isn’t as controllable as traditional marketing. The positives can seriously be outweighed by the negatives. You are putting a lot of trust into one individual. If the person loses their reputation for whatever reason, they’re intrinsically linked to your brand, which can be damaging. Again, pushing the importance of doing the research, finding the right person can seriously help in avoid choosing the wrong influencer.

Words by:  Colette Kellgren-Parker 

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