The future of influencer marketing
The rise of social media influencers is something that is still relatively new. In the last two years, more brands have utilized this marketing channel and we have seen the impact of this on our social media feeds. At the core of influencer marketing is a personal recommendation. According to findings by CIM, 83% of consumers report that they are more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend over and above traditional advertising. To their followers, influencers are like friends. Followers engage with them through social media, following their day-to-day lives, more so than with real-life friends in some cases.
With the reach of influencer marketing continuing to grow, it begs the question, where will it go from here? The current offering typically consists of a post that features #ad in the caption. This allows the audience to identify the post as being sponsored, and that the influencer has been paid to post that particular piece of content. Going forward it is expected that brands will track audience psychographics, which includes analysis of consumer lifestyles to create a detailed customer profile. This will ensure marketers can use influencers that reflect the brand requirements in a much more specific and emotional way. The channel has moved beyond celebrity endorsement, into exploiting a relationship that an influencer has already established with their followers.
Influencers can charge a premium to brands for this collaboration. A prominent example of this is vlogger Zoella, who charges thousands of pounds for a sponsored post or video. She has millions of followers all over the world and has the power to make products sell out if she recommends them. Brands are willing to pay a huge amount of money for this kind of exposure.
Not every influencer post is sponsored by a brand. But the ratio of sponsored vs. not sponsored content is increasing. Instagram now has the option for influencers to declare paid partnership posts in the top line, directly under their username. This makes it clear to followers that the content has been paid for. Recently, there has been a backlash to the increase in the volume of sponsored content. According to the Influencer Intelligence 2020 Report, 90% of marketers say authenticity is critical to the future of influencer marketing. This applies to both the influencers the brands select, and the way in which they promote the product or service to their followers. This applies particularly to the millennial audience, who are the largest segment of social media users. According to Mats Stigzelius, founder of Takumi, “they get their inspiration through their friends and like to receive recommendations from people they’ve chosen to follow, people they trust or aspire to. It’s a softer nudge towards a product.” How the millennial generation perceives influencers and their sales tactics will ultimately determine the sustainability of this marketing channel going forward.
It is not just famous influencers with a large following who are being targeted by brands, but lower level influencers, or ‘micro-influencers’ too. Micro influencers often have a more interactive relationship with their followers and can be more approachable and relatable to their audience. For brands, there are issues to contend with such as the rise of fake followers and the quality of those followers, as well as the quality of the influencer’s creative concepts. If the influencer cannot work with the brand to create a unique and engaging concept behind their posts then it is likely the partnership will not be successful.
Influencer marketing is still relatively new, and consumers are still discovering what they like and don’t like about this marketing channel. It is something that can be hugely helpful to brands, but has to be delivered in the right way. With more influencers than ever before, and more brands wanting to use them, it is clear this channel is set to grow even further. We can be sure however, that there will be new challenges as consumers become more immune and disinterested by the invasion of #ad.
MAXX have a wealth of experience in delivering effective and engaging social media and marketing campaigns. If you think that your marketing could benefit from influencer endorsement, get in touch with us to start the conversation. As this channel grows, so do the opportunities. We would love to help you reach your goals and grow your business through influencer marketing.