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Do you really like that perfume or were you paid to say you like it?

Friday, March 13, 2015

 

Influencer marketing has stealthily crept up upon us and I am beginning to notice it in a lot of corners of the internet, particularly on Twitter. I am now getting confused about what people really like and what they say they like.

 

This trendy marketing tactic consists of a brand piggy backing a relationship an online personality has built with their audience. The key is to let the influencer create the content on behalf of the brand.

 

Some commercial posts are fairly obvious, like the photographer Sam Ciurdar who takes some great outdoor photos and posts them to Instagram (https://instagram.com/samciurdar). But sitting along side his beautiful shots was a photo of tins of solid perfume nestled among pine branches and included a short message, “I’ve never heard of solid cologne until I got my hands on some @alfredlane ones!”.  Now I can’t guarantee that no money exchanged hands, but it does smack of being a hidden advertisement for Alfred Lane. Cologne just doesn’t fit with the outdoor image he has carefully curated through his photography, and, besides, who could smell it outdoors anyway?

 

Some are subtler and are better fits with the style and language of the influencer. An example is Zoe Sugg. If you follow Zoella, you may have seen her promoting Yankee Candles. She’s a YouTuber (https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390) with 7 ½ million followers. She likes nice smelly stuff and even sells a range of beauty products and so promoting scented candles fits fine. She is monetising her traffic consistently with the brand she has created.

 

The audience, brand and influencer all have to fit together in order to make influencer marketing an effective tactic. In addition, the sales pitch has to be subtle enough to let us take down our guards and truly embrace our influencer’s powers over our shopping habits.

 

Influencer marketing has gone mainstream and there is some serious money to be made by agencies and influencers alike. In fact, there are marketing agencies specifically dedicated to influencer marketing. One agency @speakr has broken down their 2,000+ network of influencers into the following categories: mums, teens, comedy, fashion, fitness, music and gamers. They say, “Become the most talked about brand on social media.”

 

Yet, there are a couple of issues to consider when handing the keys to your brand kingdom over to a millennial. Firstly, make sure you know what you need to divulge because disclosure laws vary from country to country. UK disclosure laws are stricter than those in the US. Secondly, it often times is difficult measuring impact as traditional KPIs don’t work with Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat. Lastly, well, you just handed the keys to your brand over to a millennial!

 

Influencers with a strong following are today’s stars. There are many new and exciting ways to monetise their influence, there is product placement & promotion, display advertising, self-branded products and/or affiliate marketing. And, really, the only talent they need is to market themselves effectively. The influencer has to first build the following in order to become valuable as a publisher.

 

But in today’s online world, our audiences are fair-weathered and today’s influencer could very well be forgotten tomorrow. I am trying to think of a digital analogy to the saying, “Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper”, because this is very well the case with

 

influencer marketing, but nothing springs to mind.

 

Greta Paa-Kerner (@gretapk) is a Guest Lecturer on digital and affiliate marketing as well as a Management Consultant through Ganduxer Consulting. Visit her blog and LinkedIn profile at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gretapaakerner

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