Influencer marketing, is it an inevitable future component of social media and marketing strategies, or is it a fad where its true value to marketers will always be limited and in time, go out of fashion?

  • The world of influencer marketing has evolved since the days when the word ‘influencer’ would simply trigger a handful of celebrity names.
  • It has grown past a small group of YouTube channels, to a crucial element in cross-channel marketing that hosts a large range of talent for brands to partner with.
  • Despite its growing success, it is still held under constant scrutiny, with 47% of consumers feeling fatigued by repetitive influencer content.

“People are searching for intimacy and the manner in which [brands] work with influencers is not just ‘chuck me a grand and I will say something nice about your product’.” James Kirkham, Chief Business Officer, Copa90.

What’s happening?

Influencer marketing can no longer be ignored, and while it opens a lot of doors for brands, it is being ridiculed for both its lack of evidence behind claims, and the failure to correctly label paid-for posts.

61% of consumers believe that brands are failing to be transparent about how they are using influencers to promote their products online.

In addition, consumers’ patience with social influencers is wavering, only 8% of global Internet users believe that the bulk of information shared on social media is true - consumers are searching for and prioritising more authentic content from brands. So, with the influx of influencers, how marketers choose to progress their relationship with influencers will make or break their significance in marketing strategies.

A report conducted by IAB UK found that 30% of businesses who use influencer marketing intend on increasing their allocated spend on this strategy over the next 12 months.

Tina Lakhani, IAB UK’s Ad Tech and Standards Manager, “Influencer marketing has proven so scalable because each of these personalities could open the doors to an entirely new and highly engaged audience.”

Further reports by IAB UK found that while 53% of marketers still collaborate on a one-to-one basis with influencers, 37% find it difficult to find the right influencer for their brand. It will be interesting to see how the increase in influencers and influencer agencies contributes to the search for the appropriate personality to represent the brand image.

This is leading brands to question whether or not they should invest in influencer marketing. Some industry experts strongly believe there is a place for influencers due to their huge reach and potential influence, however, the way marketers adapt how they use them within campaigns is crucial. Brands’ values should align and promote a message that resonates with their key demographic otherwise, the partnership will appear forced and inauthentic.

Like most marketing strategies, working with influencers can bring both positive and negative impacts. On the one hand, it will help brands develop a better understanding of the kind of content that will work best for each personality, but on the other hand, a one-to-one relationship with an influencer can impose restrictions on marketer’s capacity to scale their strategy. They are somewhat limited to the reach and engagement of that single influencer.

Brands need a new approach:

Influencer marketing is and will continue to be, examined through an ever-intensifying lens. IAB research indicates that over two-thirds of online marketing decision-makers are currently involved in buying or planning influencer advertising campaigns, meaning this scrutiny could be trickling down from the seniority of marketers that are involved in managing campaigns. The benefit of this development is obvious, progress is progress, and influencer marketing is being noticed and acted upon.

Rakuten Marketing found that in 2017, 86% of marketers did not understand how influencer fees should be calculated. However, today these figures say something completely different, with 30% of marketers who now ‘completely’ understanding how influencer fees are calculated. Influencer marketing is evolving and the understanding of grey areas like their fee and drive in campaigns is increasing.

Influencer marketing has advanced quickly. The benefit of an influencer is to understand the preferences and values of key demographics for brands however, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Marketers must be pragmatic, and make sure they form a well-aligned relationship with influencers that will feel natural to their consumers.

Influencer marketing is set to grow to $10bn by 2020, so without a doubt, it is here to stay and marketers should continue to invest but the influencers they choose to work with has the power to make or break their brand image.

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