The term “influencer marketing” is a phrase you may be hearing quite a bit lately – and for good reason. A recent study revealed that 94% of marketers believe influencer marketing is an effective way to advertise. But what exactly is it, and will it work for your brand? Read on to find out.
Influencer marketing happens when brands market to prominent online personalities, rather than targeting their audience directly. The influencers (which are usually lifestyle bloggers, popular YouTubers, and other self-made internet celebrities) share the product or experience on their own social channels, enabling the brand to reach thousands or even millions of consumers. According to Hubspot:
“Influencer marketing is designed to tap into an existing community of engaged followers on social media. Influencers are specialists in their niches. These individuals have influence over an audience you might be trying to reach and can be helpful marketing to those buyers.”
A major reason why this type of marketing works is because it offers a high level of trust with consumers. Those who follow influencers tend to trust the person and the types of products they recommend. When a personality vouches for a product they use in their daily life – even if they were compensated by the brand for saying it – viewers will listen, because they deem the brand/influencer partnership to be authentic and well thought out.
Although there is some overlap, influencer marketing is not the same thing as hiring a spokesperson. A celebrity endorsement is simply a contract that allows a company to attach a well-known person’s face to their brand. Spokespeople usually appear in media that is highly produced, such as a pro-athlete in a shampoo commercial. On the other hand, influencer marketing often comes from a more organic place and may not even start off as a formal agreement. Sometimes, a blogger just really loves a brand and wants to tell the world about it in their own way.
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Who made your shoes? How do they do when it comes to labour ethics, sustainability and animals?⠀ ⠀ I finally bit the bullet and, with my pair of old faithful brown brogues literally falling off my feet (I’m still going to try and get them repaired), I thought that I should finally get myself another pair of shoes. After 6 months of unsuccessfully looking in thrift stores for something that would be very comfortable and fairly orthopaedic-ish (I’ve got very fickle feet and in the past a bad pair of shoes has meant I couldn’t want for months so I need to make SURE they’re okay), I took myself to some stores where they sell things brand new, and I tried some shoes on. Now, when I do have to shop new, for things that I can’t make or find secondhand like shoes, socks and bras, I always use this magical app that tells me exactly what the ethics of each brand is. That magical app is called Good on you and this is NOT a sponsored post, I just want to let more people know that this app exists!!⠀ ⠀ @goodonyou_app have done the hard work of researching thousands of brands thoroughly and independently. As I browsed through the stores to find shoes, app in hand, I was very disappointed to see that some brands that stock notoriously comfy shoes (@skechers and @birkenstocks.offical ) had really bad ratings on goodonyou_app – so I guess they care about making the feet of the people who buy their $100+ shoes comfortable, but not giving comfortable conditions to the people who make them, which is pretty messed up.⠀ ⠀ Finally I discovered that two footwear brands with a “good” rating from Good On You app are @adidas and @reebok. So I tried on some lovely lavender suede Reebok’s and I found them to be comfy, cute and bonus, not made in a sweatshop. Here they are in this photo. I plan to have and love them for years and years, just like the good ol’ brown brogues. Taking more time to choose and research your clothes certainly gives you more appreciation for them #LessIsMore #AntiFastFashion⠀ ⠀ [Image Description: a image of Annika’s shoes shot from above. The shoes are light purple. Annika is wearing a floral dress and is standing on grey pavement surrounded by purple petals.]
An example of this earned influencer marketing is popular YouTuber Annika Victoria, who makes videos focused on DIY personal style and sustainable and socially responsible fashion. Annika also talks openly about her experience living with a disability that requires her to use a wheelchair much of the time, so she has amassed a following of likeminded people who also have special medical needs. That’s why it was especially poignant when she recently posted about needing to buy a new pair of shoes that were supportive enough but also came from a brand that uses ethical business practices. Without being prompted or paid to do so, Annika praised Adidas and Reebok as well as the Good On You app, which allows shoppers to research socially responsible companies.
Compared to other popular web celebs, Annika’s following is modest (at least on Instagram), but her close-knit and niche fanbase means that when she endorses a product, it will be extremely relevant and useful to those people.
Simon and Clemmie Hooper
Simon and Clemmie Hooper are an English couple who have built a large following on their respective Instagram accounts by documenting the colorful and often hilarious exploits of parenting four young daughters. Simon (@father_of_daughters) is a writer and has become known for the witty anecdotes that he includes with each post. Clemmie (@mother_of_daughters), a midwife, shares a lot about motherhood, women’s health, and designing a home that fits their family’s lifestyle. It made sense then that brands would approach them to do paid influencer marketing on their behalf. Samsung sent them a new television, Loaf sent a stylish yet kid-friendly sofa, and Mark & Spencer featured them in a campaign for comfortable denim. Despite being clearly sponsored posts, the Hoopers stay true to their brand and write about these products in a way that draws in their followers, rather than sending them running at the smell of a sales pitch.
So, is influencer marketing right for your brand? It depends!
If you’re looking to establish and grow your brand/offering and know it has a niche market, do some research to see if there are influencers that would be a fit. The same goes for brands that are already established but are looking into new markets. Also, it pays to be vigilant. Use social listening tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social to monitor the conversations people are already having about your brand or product and think about how you can align your marketing to better reflect your audience.
Most importantly, a brand/influencer partnership should never be forced. Both parties need to make sure that the other holds the values and voice that are important to consumers and followers. Authenticity is everything.