Can influencer marketing help you?
Traditional marketing and advertising formats have taken a hit as a media-savvy, ad-wary generation has come of age.
So for the past few years brands have been finding clever ways to tap into the benefits of influencer marketing.
What is influencer marketing?
It’s the process of tapping into someone else’s large social following to share your product or message.
Influencers have connected with and built up their own meaningful audiences, meaning brands need only find a way of stepping into their ready built spotlight. Related brands see being featured on their posts as a powerful marketing tool - it’s like the digital version of a recommendation from a trusted friend.
Influencers act as advocates for the brand in question, sharing content - be it copy, posts or video - that puts the brand in a favourable light.
It seems to be working. A whopping 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrity endorsements or sponsorship. That could be down to the relatable element of a ‘normal’ person filming a makeup video in their bedroom, for example, or Instagram shots taken on a standard iPhone.
It’s a nice idea in theory - influencers work with brands they like and vice versa to market products to potentially interested people.
These days, for marketing to be effective it has to be targeted - brands now have to earn consumer’s trust first. And what better way to do that than open up a conversation with someone they already trust.
But this does mean that the influencers then hold the keys - they are in charge of the content, and creating that impression of the brand. When it comes to the content, brands can direct and suggest, but dictating exactly what to say is not the best way forward (more on that later). Pick the right influencers to connect with and trust them to do your brand right. Let their unique voice and audience connection do the work. However, that can be an expensive trust exercise. Do your research in advance and be selective about who you pick.
Here’s a good example of influencer marketing: Queer Eye’s fashion expert Tan France has connected with a headache tablet brand. How they are linked is not immediately obvious but the caption references his catchphrases on the Netflix show and a clear effort has been made to create a personal connection with the brand. The post gained over 134,000 likes and plenty of engagement.
Microsoft arguably don’t need extra marketing help. However, their International Women’s Day campaign told great stories and focused on an important issue. They partnered with National Geographic to highlight the inspiring women working in STEM and other traditionally male-dominated fields. They shared images from female influencers from the world of travel photography, such as Cristina Mittermeier. The photos got over 3 million likes in one day, and the campaign reached nearly 91 million people.
In the run up to the 2018 World Cup, Wish (an online shopping app) tapped into influencer potential with their #Timeonyourhands campaign. It focused on footballers who were well known but not playing in the tournament, showing how they were keeping busy instead. It was an interesting and different idea that ran in contrast to the typical World Cup imagery in heavy use at the time. Just one video generated 2 million views on Instagram in two hours.
There are plenty of examples we could have picked - and influencer marketing can work at both ends of the scale, from tiny to massive followings, as long as it is reaching a relevant audience. If there is a natural connection between the brand and the influencer, and it flows between them, it works.
However, it doesn’t always work so well. The Zoella advent calendar backlash is a good case study of how influencers don’t always get it right.
Zoella has 11 million Youtube subscribers and holds the record for the fastest-selling debut novel ever. In partnership with Boots, she released a branded advent calendar, which cost cost £50 and had 12 doors. Fans and consumers weren’t particularly happy with it. “Zoella is a perfect example of people deliberately using their platforms for nothing other than to give themselves a bigger paycheck every month,” one user commented.
With that amount of followers or subscribers, any personal message can easily get lost. Although that’s undeniably successful account, it’s no longer one collective, niche audience. If you can’t summarise who can influence in one or two words, it’s too diverse - which is why people began to reject traditional advertising. It’s almost just another corporate empire!
Reality TV star Scott Disick made an online faux pas that didn’t escape eagle-eyed online commentators. He copied and pasted all of the text a fitness company sent him directly into Instagram - see below. There’s very little connection here between himself, his audience and the brand. While we’re all human, and this is clearly just a mistake, posts like this risk damaging the authenticity of brands and influencers, as they run the possibility of losing the authentic connection that has been built over time.
So influencer marketing may well be a passing trend, and soon replaced by the next online fad. Some think advocate marketing - in which brands elect more specific spokespeople - will be next.
But this Christmas we will be reaching out to the influencers across Bristol and the south west, in our work with the amazing Marmalade Trust.
They’re working hard to end the stigma around loneliness, and we’re happy to be contributing to their #NotAlone campaign across social media.
If you’d like to find out more, help raise funds or volunteer for the Marmalade Trust this Christmas, click here.