Have you ever made a purchase based on a social media recommendation? Have you ever seen a product promoted on social media with no explanation or reasoning as to why? Then you’ve been party to influencer marketing. What is influencer marketing? You say. Let me explain.
Influencer marketing is a term used in the social media sphere of the digital world. It refers to social media personalities with a number of active followers who endorse products for brands. They harness their powers in social persuasion and wield them to the benefit of commercial brands.
There are many variables to influencer marketing. Firstly, influencing is practiced on various levels, levels of which are usually dependant upon the number of followers and rate of engagement. Micro influencing is a popular term these days. It refers to the influencers with the smaller following that still maintain the ability to steer public perception.
It is often debated whether a larger or smaller following is most useful to brands. Smaller followings often command a niche and, if chosen correctly, will drive more specific and targeted engagement. Larger followings obviously have a more encompassing reach and will see your brand/product in front of a far bigger audience.
There are different ways of payment - yes, that’s right, payment. Influencers get paid to advertise brands and usually tag their paid content with #ad or #spon. However, not all influencers get paid with money. The bigger influencers often have managers who negotiate cash payment with a brands. Smaller influencers, or ‘micro influencers’ often work alone and are more likely to be offered products to test, try and keep as long as they advertise said products in their content.
Where did it come from?
Influencer marketing as it is today on social media is a very new concept to the world of advertising. However, despite its irregularities many are surprised to discover the extent to which it’s rooted in traditional advertising. In the same way that celebrities are used as a familiar face in fancy perfume advertisements, influencers are recognisable in the same way to a slightly younger generation. Both are similarly founded on the traditional economy of trust and discernibility. Starting to click?
Influencer marketing has grown intensely in the past few years. As an increasing amount of people from various backgrounds to boast the ‘influencer’ title many millennials will remember where it all began. Before consumers began to recognise the value in digitally distributing their day-to-day goings on, consequently monetizing social media, Youtube and other social platforms were viewed as little more than frivolous pass-timers.
By 2010, Youtubers such as Zoella started to break through onto the site, creating tutorials about beauty and lifestyle. This is where social media influencer marketing really began to take off.
Once Youtubers showed their viewers how to use certain products and realised that their viewers were actually buying the products, brands started to get involved. Influencer marketing was born of the viewer and consumer. It works because it was created by the people who buy into it.
Where is it today?
There was recent controversy surrounding the advertising of products as many influencers did not (and still sometimes don’t) disclose whether the products are sincere recommendations or paid-for influencer gigs. The new advertising standards have now been introduced guidelines and things are a lot more clear. Influencers now usually only recommend products that they are inclined to use themselves.
Recent day has seen the rise of Instagram shift the paradigm of influencer marketing away from Youtube and towards the photo-centric platform. ‘The gram’ has been commended for its instant and real time quality, allowing influencers the ability to share a story or a post quickly and gain engagement even quicker.
Influencer marketing, simply put, is a product of the millennial generation’s distrust of traditional advertising. Instead of continuing the mindless consumption of artificial catwalks and television advertisements, they rebelled and built personalised influencing constructs to which they could trust. Surrounding themselves with personalities that more directly align with their own style and taste.
Make sense now?