Remember that quote that Andy Warhol may or may not have said: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”? It’s the future now and it has never been easier to become famous (or at least mini-famous). Enter the influencer – an online entity who influences how regular humans live their lives through blogs, videos and social media. There are influencers for almost everything – beauty, gaming, fashion, travel, fitness, DIY, pets and more.
Influencer marketing isn’t a surprise. Well-known people (sometimes termed ‘celebrities) have always been paid to promote products. Thousands of likes on your amusing but pointless Instagram posts mean you may have an avenue to make money. As people grow wary of adverts and fall in love with ad blockers, influencer endorsements look like a sincere antidote. At first, it could be challenging to see which posts were paid for and which ones showcased sincere product love without payment. In 2018, laws were passed that said influencers must clearly state in their posts if it’s an ad. So where does this leave influencer marketing now?
Why does influencer marketing matter?
Influencer marketing matters because it works. Hubspot says that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. To reach these digital natives, advertisers need to speak to them on their level. 88% of people put the highest trust level in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know. Many influencer followers feel a personal connection with them as they detail snippets of their life, often from their own bedroom. It’s like having a digital friend who speaks to them conversationally and offers useful tips and advice. Followers receive a word-of-mouth style recommendation from someone they admire and like. It’s akin to receiving advice from a friend or family member, equipping it with more of a sense of authenticity. It’s no surprise that influencer marketing is the fastest growing channel to acquire customers.
What kind of results does influencer marketing get?
Huge results. 80% of consumers have bought something that was recommended by an influencer. Many companies are investing in their influencer marketing strategies more than ever before. After all, 89% of brands claim that influencer marketing is comparable or better than alternative marketing channels. Last year alone, marketing spend on influencers grew an astronomical 83%. Who could blame them? Influencers recommend your brand to a relevant audience of thousands who may have never heard of you before.
Is there a downside to influencer marketing?
It’s not all rainbows and revenue though; there are indeed downsides. Those with gargantuan followers ask for silly amounts of cash for a measly single post. There are also countless falls from graces with influencer scandals providing tonnes of articles for the tabloids. This reflects negatively on brands that have endorsed them, of course. It’s extremely important to vet your influencers thoroughly before approaching them for work.
Another problem is knowing if their followers are real or paid for. One way to identify this is to check if the engagement rates broadly match the follower count, usually a 1.5 – 3% likes to followers ratio. Check a broad sample of the comments to make sure they’re not spammy, in case they user has bought comments and likes too.
What does the future look like?
Whether you see them as ‘winfluencers’ or ‘influenzas’, they aren’t vacating the digital marketing world any time soon. Here are some theories on what the future of influencer marketing may look like.
1. Instagram occupies the preferred channel space for influencer marketing by a long shot, but it is by no means the only one. It’s likely companies will spend more of their budgets on Tiktok and Twitch, two channels that at growing exponentially in the influencer universe, and others.
2. Usually, brands approach influencers on a per-post basis. Once they are happy with the sales generated from them after a few campaigns, they may shift to a longer-term contract. This would mean less work finding new influencers and could cut down the cost of a post through quantities of scale.
3. As with the likes of Facebook and Google, this new channel will not remain the same and will almost definitely see increased regulation. However, this could be a positive evolution as the new engagements are likely to be more relevant, sincere and valuable.
4. There’s a hiccup for mega-influencers though. When they become megastars, users perceive them to be less trust-worthy, solely doing sponsored posts for the money. As we mentioned in our 2020 trends blog, micro influencers are on the rise, picking up the slack. Micro influencers have a 41.7% higher engagement rate than influencers with 500K – 1 million followers. It makes sense when you consider celebrities are losing their lustre to influencers.
Evidently, influencer marketing can achieve stratospheric returns. As with everything, to get the most out of it, you need to do your research. Make sure you pick the right influencer who resonates with not just your target customer but also your brand and its values. The ideal candidate will take a real interest in your product and learn how to promote it most effectively.
If you’re struggling to find an appropriate influencer, there are many influencer agencies who will guide you through the process. Study how other companies in your industry utilise successful sponsored campaigns and incorporate these strategies into your own. Then aim to become influential in the influencer marketing world.