Social Media Influencers rise, consumers time to be wise…

by Nadine Al-Ahmad

Influencers are everywhere! Or at least that is what it seems like in 2017. This PR/Marketing trend has shown tremendous growth recently with brands adopting this approach on nearly every social media platform with most activity taking place on the platforms; Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.  If we look on our Instagram feeds we are guaranteed to see at least one
fit tea sponsored by an athletic public figure, or the YouTube beauty guru that swears that the product she was sent yesterday and sponsored by is the best product she has ever used. All sounds this sounds too familiar doesn’t it! Hmmm…

So let’s start from the beginning, what is an influencer? An influencer is a third party person involved with a company or brand that helps them to reach and connect to an audience that would otherwise not be available towards them. The evolution of ‘influencers’ comes from the idea of traditional media and celebrity endorsements, however this approach is lower cost and more accessible to all brands.  Before there were limitations as it essentially became who could afford who, which meant smaller companies were missing out on PR/Marketing opportunities. These types of influencers are described as home grown (Harrington.J, 2016). The opportunity and power comes with follower loyalty and engagement of their voice.

Let’s have a quick look at a little example; Here Kylie Jenner claims that this waist trainer is downloadreason behind her body change and how she got her small waist and curves… Do you believe it? Would you buy it?

Now you may think this is all positive, however “59 per cent of marketers planned to grow their influencer marketing budget in 2016” that’s a significant increase! This leads on to questionability of the genuineness of influencers and has thoughts running through our heads such as… are they doing it simply because marketers need them? Is it for the money? Is what they say really representative? Was this scripted? Are they scared to say their opinions as this will lead to companies opting not to use them again?

This is why consumers need to be wise’ because of these difficulties to recognize integrity online and with consumers having so much trust in what influencers say, statistics show that “92 percent of us trust recommendations from individuals we may not personally know if they’re perceived as a “social media star” in the industry

Brands have listened to the feedback and backlash that consumers have against false and scripted influencers and have understood that authenticity is key to successful marketing and are now adopting a style, which is to make influencers contributors. This will be achieved by finding real brand advocates; these people are sincerely passionate about the brand or product and can portray the product or the brand in a way that influencers who were just enticed by money or opportunity just couldn’t. The future of this PR/Marketing trend will be interesting to keep an eye on, to see which direction brands choose to select by sticking with the current influencers or opting for brand advocates.

So what do you think of influencers? Do you believe them? And where do you think the future of influencers will go, do you see brand advocates taking over? Comment and let me know 🙂

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