Influencer marketing has been around since the 1800s, but thanks to social media, it’s made a huge resurgence.
For brands, social influencer marketing is about using paid celebs, experts or other notable folks to deliver brand messages and market products (usually not so subtly) to defined target audiences on social channels. The ease by which brands can dabble in influencer marketing is helping to bring this trending tool into the mainstream, so we’re beginning to hear about it more and more.
Mosh’s managing director, Jeremy Marks, and head of strategy, Julian Thompson give us the low-down:
Why is influencer marketing such a hot topic right now?
Influencer marketing might have been around since forever, but now we have platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, where anyone who wants to become an influencer, can. In little old New Zealand alone, there seems to be hundreds, if not thousands, of said ‘influencers’. We’ve seen beauty and makeup maven Shannon Harris, Shaaanxo and others go large, which has inspired a wave of influencers, in turn helping to spawn aggregator apps and businesses like Social Club, Populr and Tribe, who connect brands with these influencers.
How can influencers fit into an overall brand social media strategy?
Right now, we would say use it very carefully – or not at all. The two biggest things we would consider is firstly potential brand damage, and secondly, return on investment (ROI). At the upper end of influencer marketing (we’re talking celebs as brand ambassadors), things are pretty safe with regard to potential brand damage – unless your brand ambassador releases a sex tape or punches someone at a nightclub, which can happen from time to time. Once you get down to people with the self-proclaimed title of ‘social media influencer’, creative control, legalities, distribution rights etc can become a little murkier/riskier/cowboy-ish. In saying that, these influencers have less influence than a B-grade celeb, so potential brand damage is minimised.
With ROI, the jury is still out on influencer marketing. Not that it’s any fault of the influencers, they’re doing their part, it’s just very few brands and agencies are utilising sophisticated enough tracking to determine if there is an ROI. So for brands considering paying influencers to promote their stuff, we would recommend setting up some fairly robust tracking and metrics.
What do you see as some of the downsides to using paid influencers for social media marketing?
The biggest downside is throwing away money. Whether you’re engaging a single influencer across a multi-week campaign or matching 20 profiles to your brand and seeing what sticks, you won’t really know what return you’re going to get unless you’re tracking the clicks, purchases and sign-ups for example. Instagram influencers have been known to have lots of fake followers – we get approached all the time by budding influencers wanting to make it their full-time gig. A quick check on something like Followercheck (could also be called ‘reality check’) can be quite revealing.
What’s more important when it comes to choosing brand influencers – reach, influence or both?
Definitely both, but it’s the actual influence that’s hard to determine or predict. An influencer’s content can reach a large audience fairly easily, but does that result in that audience taking action en masse? Robert de Niro’s anti-Trump video went viral, but the desired actions and outcome were not achieved.
How does the growth in influencer marketing affect the impact that other social media marketing efforts have on consumers?
It’s hard to say. There are definitely lots of social media influencer success stories out there, but there’s also the basic human capacity we all possess called a bullshit detector. We don’t like inauthenticity, which influencer marketing has unfortunately been born with. The article Confessions of an Instagram Influencer is a must read for anyone considering using influencers as part of their marketing activity.
How can brands identify influential people within their chosen field without using celebrities, famous people or self-made influencers?
There are a number of apps and tools out there to identify the most engaged, loudest, or most influential people within your own audience. Just Google ‘who are my influencers’ and some of these tools will present themselves.
These people typically comment on and share your posts, plus have an average-to-decent social network themselves, who in turn gets to see your stuff. While hitting up some of these people to become ‘micro-influencers’ i.e. sample product and mention your brand, seems like a good idea on the surface (surely their friends will have similar interests to them, so they’ll like my stuff too?), determining ROI is the ultimate measure of the idea’s goodness.