When marketers talk about social media, the impetus is often put on paid advertising. Or just setting up an account and jumping on any hashtag remotely close to what you’re selling.
But in this consumer savvy age, marketers should look at social media beyond face value and attempt to discover the emotions and motives behind specific social platform use. No-one wants to feel like they’re being sold anything, especially not on social media. The consumer journey from first impressions to buying isn’t just a simple journey – it’s a long, mazy road where subtlety and brand prestige takes centre stage. Enter: influencer marketing. This is a relatively new term but has been around for and advocates for brands have been around for over 60 years. Some of the first ever cigarette ads (we’re definitely talking 60 years ago, now) included celebrity endorsements, with Lucky Strike using singer/actress Marlene Dietrich to push their ‘smooth cigarettes’, whilst Chesterfield Cigarettes used president Ronald Reagan in their ads.
So, how has it evolved? Looking at the aforementioned cigarette ads, it’s clear that it’s sales focused. It’s sending a very simple, clear message. Which at the time, was very effective. Advertising as an art was still maturing. But now, influencer marketing is a completely different field. Influencer marketing now is about a much bigger picture, and a much more complex story, not just paying a celebrity to have a picture with your product. The transparent world that we now live in has developed a level of consumer knowledge that makes it difficult for brands to come across as genuine. We’re all connected, we’re all wise to traditional advertising and how it can affect us. It’s created a consumer that is actively fighting traditional advertising, in a way. Traditional advertisements aren’t as powerful now – as you can instantly go on your phone and check if what the advertisement is promising is true. The wealth of information available to us has completely changed what advertising is. Consumers can easily tell between controlled advertising marketing speak, and genuine, raw opinion. What a lot of marketers think about influencer marketing is to simply add some sponsored content in there and get a simple signature or picture with it. This can backfire massively, and actually put people off your brand. Spare a thought for the nutrition company which thought that putting their product in front of Scott Disick’s millions of followers would strengthen their brand.
Anyone can simply get a ‘buy [blank] now’. It’s easy to see past and makes you want to ignore. If there is transparency about the brand’s involvement, and the content is communicated on the right channels and is high quality, creative and unique – then it could well work in the brand’s favour by creating a mystique and authenticity around the brand.
We only have to see the controversy with Ryan Lochte recently to see the value that brands hold in their individual sponsorships. Getting key influencers to be confident and proud in your brand is one of the only organic ways to position yourself at the forefront of your target market. These don’t have to be experts in the field, either. For example, Stormzy and other celebrities are no fine dining experts but their support of Nandos has helped the fast food chain climb to a recognised high street name. Kudos to Nandos for taking advantage of this opportunity, though…
Influencer marketing shows a greater understanding of the consumer. You’re not selling to them, you’re letting them sell it to themselves. After all, an influencer is an authentic voice that your audience trusts. I’ll leave you with this – over a THIRD of Instagram users have bought an item of clothing they saw on the social network. If you can take advantage of authentic voices your customers trust, you’ll see the difference in your results.
If you’d like to discuss how to improve your social strategy, why not get in touch with us today.
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Author: James Murphy
James is a recent Business Marketing University Graduate. He’s been immersed within our agencies Digital Marketing team to work with existing clients and support the development of AB’s profile through social and content marketing.