The Authentic Influencer: Myth or Legend

What is influencer marketing and how can you use it…

The millennial job of the moment and Instagram badge of honour, influencer marketing is both highly praised and often criticised.  When executed correctly it can make your business a lot of money, if done poorly, it could cost you just as much.  So what is it and how can you utilise it alongside video production and within marketing strategy?

What is an influencer?

A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.

What is influencer marketing?

Companies and brands reward influencers, either by paying them or gifting them merchandise and services, to promote their product and messaging via their online channels.  Whilst influencer marketing used to be reserved for high profile celebrities and industry leaders, the rise of the digital world has allowed almost everyone the opportunity to become a social media influencer.  So, what should you look out for when searching for your perfect match?

Why would you use influencer marketing in your strategy?

The reason people use influencer marketing is predominantly to increase their reach online.  By partnering up with the right influencer who has a similar target audience to your own, not only will you increase your brand awareness, your total following has the potential to grow alongside website traffic and conversion rate.

Secondly, by choosing to pursue influencer marketing you will start to set the tone for your brand positioning within the market and who the public will associate you with. Things to consider include;

  • How do they interact with their followers?
  • What is their other content like?
  • Are they aligned with your brand values?
  • are they endorsing any other products?
  • I­­f they are, do you want to be associated with them?

By answering these questions, you will take a step closer to finding yourself a more credible influencer business relationship.  BUT!  How can someone be authentic and trustworthy if they are being incentivised with earning extra money?

Some businesses have been known to pay north of $500,000 for access to a celebrity social media account.  The infamous Fyre Festival paid Kendall Jenner $250,000 to post a plain orange tile on her Instagram, along with others, with the lowest paid influencers earing $20,000 each to do the same. How could Kendall authentically endorse this festival when at that point she, as did the organisers, knew nothing about it?  Whilst the whole project was a disaster, people did buy tickets but what was the ROI on their influencer marketing strategy?

According to Fyre Festival’s pitch deck the organisers were due to sell 40,000 tickets, however when the festival date arrived only 8,000 of those tickets had been sold, of which a large proportion at discounted rates.  For the purpose of this blog, if we attribute all 8,000 of those tickets to Kendall’s one post to her 72 Million followers, that’s less than 1% of her followers converting into sales. Although the level of impressions and reach is far greater for those considered Macro Influencers (10k + followers), in terms of a return on investment for $250,000, that’s a poor performance.

What to choose? Micro vs Macro

Macro influencers… think of the Kim Kardashian and David Beckham’s of the world.  Millions of followers and celebrity status.  Whilst it is easy to control their output through negotiated contracts and measure ROI through tracking or promo codes, carrying out influencer marketing at this level is likely to have the biggest impact on your brand awareness and your following as well as your bank account.

Micro influencers… have less than 10,000 followers and occasionally don’t even know they are influencers.  Carrying out an influencer campaign at micro level can be more cost effective and produce a high conversion rate due to a more defined audience and increased levels of trust.  For example, if you were opening a restaurant in a town, scouring Instagram for local people to invite for a launch, who love and post about food and eating out regularly, would be a great way to leverage micro influencers.  They may all have less than 2,000 followers each, but combined they have 20,000 who are all local to your business, offering a more targeted audience with their content considered trustworthy.  As we enter a stage where Millennials are potentially your biggest buyers’ market, authenticity is key.

Something to consider… Followers vs Engagement

Just because someone has hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram doesn’t mean that they’re going to send lots of traffic to your digital channels.  Total number of followers is purely a vanity metric. What you want to look at is whether those followers are engaging with their content.  There’s no point having 100k followers with only 100 likes as an average on one video.  This would suggest that their following is neither relevant nor genuine.  Try using an online engagement calculator to see whether they’re worth investing in.

How can I match make video and influencer marketing?

Video content is king in 2019, so agreeing with your influencer to produce a video review in return for a gifted product or payment, can ensure your business is being showcased across a multitude of platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram etc.  An added benefit is that you can re-purpose and share their video content across your own channels.  Content generation and product reviews all in one.

A more subtle and perhaps ‘authentic’ influencer agreement is that of product placement.  From blockbuster movies to make-up vloggers bedrooms, product placement allows you to be at the forefront of their follower’s minds in a relevant and trusted setting.

At PinPoint Media, we regularly stream live events to allow a behind the scenes look in for those unable to attend from around the UK and across the globe.  You can really pack a punch online by hosting a live influencers event to launch a new product and offering your customers and their followers a sneak peek into the aspirational lifestyle of an influencer.  Live streaming simultaneously partnered with a huge collective of influencer content can be a smart way to generate demand and excitement around your product to new audiences all over the world.   

So, myth or legend?  

The argument as to whether influencer marketing is effective or not is complex.  It can be defined by your goals, budget and how you choose to measure success.  Authenticity on the other hand is still in question.

Ironically, businesses are influencing the influencer using money as an incentive, which leaves us in a position where the trustworthiness of all forms of marketing could come into question. When driving revenue is the primary goal, as the customers you’re unlikely to be presented with the whole picture.  Thanks to review platforms like Google, TripAdvisor and Trustpilot, there’s an opportunity to get a more rounded understanding, although these themselves could be subject to competitor tampering.

Ultimately, authenticity boils down to how you make the consumer feel.  Stay relevant to your audience and the authenticity will follow.  Kim Kardashian probably isn’t the best fit when it comes to marketing your tech firm.  Or is she… and so the paradox continues.

Fyre Festival Pitch Deck [Online] Available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/346949516/Fyre-Festival-Pitch-Deck#fullscreen&from_embed

Influencer Marketing Hub [Online] Available at: https://influencermarketinghub.com/no-fyre-festival-wasnt-an-influencer-marketing-success-and-other-lessons-from-a-disaster/

Harpers Bazaar [Online]