What does the Age of Influence mean for markets and marketing power? We dig under the surface of influencer marketing to ask why influence matters and to ascertain how such trust should be handled as a media channel.
Influence is a big responsibility for a person to shoulder.
In today’s moody marketing climate it is a tricky business to be in, as lines of when to apply influence and when not, often blur. ROI formulas are equally blurred. But the use and abuse of influence is nothing new. If you look at kings and queens, religious leaders and clan leaders of ages past, high power and influence was used either for good or bad.
It was that simplistic.
So while influencer marketing has been considered a hot rising campaign currency in the chat world for some time, influence is as old as Father and Mother Time themselves. The Influencer Marketing Hub pinpointed the value of the channel at US$6.5 bn (2019) and one that had grown three-fold since 2016, up from US$4.6 bn (2018) and US$3 bn (2017).
Let’s follow the big money and equally big lessons.
For the purposes of society’s short-term memory, what began as a ride on the coat tails of celebrity endorsements, caught fire in everyday marketing circles. The next thing we knew was parents were pushing their four year olds to be the next rising Insta and YouTube stars, for commercial gain.
The wildfire pursuit for fame spread alongside the size of the egos of so many people. Consider some of the price tags for one post by the highest paid Instagrammers.
In July 2019 the BBC reported that Kylie Jenner was paid around $1.2 million (£960,000) for a single post on Instagram.“Kylie – with her 141 million followers – came out top of the same list last year, when she was reportedly earning around $1 million (£800,000) for a post to her followers.”
It stated: “She is followed by Ariana Grande at $966,000 (£773,340) per post and Cristiano Ronaldo – $975,000 (£780,487) per post, even though he is the most-followed person on Instagram, with 177 million followers. Selena Gomez, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Neymar and Justin Bieber made up the rest of the top 10.”
Big business indeed, as in reality, it has become harder to get more coverage on social platforms simply by paying for it. A recent statistic claims that 68% of people said Facebook advertising is becoming more expensive and harder to optimise for their company.
A Relatable 2019 poll also claimed that 86% of marketers had intended to dedicate a portion of their budget to influencer marketing this year. However, many marketers still did not know how to go about doing it – in fact, 39% of marketers polled struggled to find the right influencers to align with their brand.
The media team at Ebony+Ivory recently ran an influencer campaign for South African uniform designer and manufacturer, Gina@Work. The campaign aligned ex Miss South Africa and medical general practitioner, Dr. Ade van Heerden successfully within the communication strategy. Ade’s positive contribution enabled engagement and sales to increase substantially over the duration of the two month campaign where we saw per Rand spent on marketing result in a sales income increase from R1.05 in the first week to a high of R17 per Rand spent in the last quarter of the campaign.
In our experience there are three starting points to effectively and responsibly bring an influencer and brand together:
Find an influencer that matches your brand value: Customers tend to trust the word of a person or influencer, over that of a brand. Like-mindedness matters massively. Find an influencer that matches your brand’s ethos, values and beliefs.
Don’t dictate to your influencer: Telling your influencer what to say about your brand defeats the purpose. A balance needs to be created between creative freedom and trust from your influencer and a certain level of expectation from your brand.
Be authentic: Authenticity is key to make influencer marketing work – authenticity from both the brand and the influencer. Allow your influencer the creative freedom to weave their own personality and authenticity into their posts.
By all means though, get stars in your brand eyes because influencer marketing is not a falling star. This is just the beginning of how the next generations will look to role models and for inspiration, so while it will evolve from its current platforms, influence will never die.
The one constant is that people must decide if they want to harness the power of influence for good or bad.
That’s your call.