What is Influencer Marketing?
As Social Media Influencers are growing stadium-sized followings, specific brands are gradually trying their hand at Influencer Marketing. Influencer Marketing uses popular individuals to drive a brand’s message in the hope of enhancing sales and brand recognition. On the outside, Influencer Marketing seems simple. Find an influencer, ask them to recommend your brand, and pay them. BOOM. Done… right? Not quite. Utilizing Influencer Marketing without research, planning, and caution can heed more harm than good for a brand.
What are the pros?
- Price: Influencer marketing is generally cheaper when compared to traditional advertisements. By choosing to work with influencers, there is no need to hire camera crews, models, or creative directors previously needed to create ads. Although some influencers charge tens of thousands of dollars to advertise on their social media accounts, this is often not the case and usually does not compare to the price it takes to think, plan, and create a full advertising campaign.
- It works: This type of marketing can spark sales! Think about it, are you more likely to trust a recommendation from an advertisement made and produced by the company itself, or are you more likely to trust a recommendation from an individual you follow and admire? In a sense, influencer marketing is like a casual online testimonial. It’s like receiving a recommendation from your friend, rather than a brand trying to swoon you.
What are the cons?
As influencer marketing is no longer in its “brand-spankin’-new” phase, huge problems have recently developed.
- No trust: Audiences are starting to question influencers’ intentions. Today, audiences are skeptical about most recommendations online. Viewers ask themselves, “Are they recommending this product because they like it, or because of the paycheck they will receive?” Because many influencers have been caught hyping up terrible brands that do not match their lifestyle, morals, or dialogues, this sense of distrust has since grown.
- “Walking on eggshells”: Loyal followers often remember everything about an influencer, such as their likes, dislikes, morals, or previous statements. Committed followers (both haters and supporters), are constantly watching these individuals, so it is very important to find a good fit between the endorsement and the influencer. Take YouTuber Meredith Foster as an example. Meredith is known for her lifestyle content which she posts across all social media platforms. In one of her older YouTube videos, Meredith briefly talked about the harms of popular, unnatural deodorants. A couple months after posting this video, Meredith promoted an unnatural deodorant on her Instagram. Followers noticed this discrepancy, suddenly making both the brand and Meredith appear untrustworthy.
Questions brands should as when picking influencers:
- Is this individual a right fit?
- Have they talked negatively about our brand or similar products in the past?
- How is their image?
- How is their behavior and attitude, both online and in-person?
In a world centered around cellphones, laptops, and social media, Influencer Marketing has successfully sparked brand recognition and product sales. With proper research, careful strategizing, and transparency, companies can utilize Influencer Marketing to their advantage. And who knows, if you build the right following yourself, maybe brands will be coming to you one day!
By Sarah Tanguma