How Brands Work With Influencers
If you’ve recently seen one of your favourite bloggers, YouTubers or Instagrammers explicitly promoting a product on their platform, then you’ve come across one of the latest trends in digital marketing: influencer marketing.
In the age of the Internet, and with increasingly effective ad-block technology, brands have had to become ever more creative with their marketing strategies in order to reach their target audience. Collaborating with so-called influencers is just one of the methods that brands have adopted to achieve this.
An influencer is defined as someone who has the power to influence a significant number of people, in this case through social media. As individuals with real personalities, influencers who have grown a large following through creating content on the Internet (such as writing blog posts or making YouTube videos) tend to have a much stronger connection with their audience than companies have with consumers.
As such, brands can take advantage of the trust and interest held in these influencers, diverting it towards their own products and services by offering money or freebies in return for brand endorsements. The more followers the influencer has, the more they can charge for such an endorsement; The Guardian reports that a single Instagram post can be worth between £40 and £300, depending on the influencer’s reach.
Still, influencers with a seemingly small number of followers (known as “micro-influencers”) can earn a decent income from working with brands. This depends on the demographic of their audience, how well that demographic aligns with the company’s target market and how much the audience engages with their content (e.g. through “likes” or comments). As an example, The Guardian’s article mentions a blogger and Instagrammer with around 2,800 followers whose content focuses solely on the niche topic of inflammatory bowel disease, nevertheless earning endorsements from various food products and supplements, as well as invitations to review restaurants.
The way in which endorsements manifest varies widely between influencers and their chosen platforms. For example, an influencer who has developed a large following on Instagram through posting fashion-related content may find that fashion brands pay him or her to post pictures of them wearing their clothing. Fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni is a great example of this; with over 16 million Instagram followers, she regularly posts pictures of herself sporting various high-profile fashion brands, with the hashtag “#ad” (or something similar) to signify the endorsement.
Similarly, a YouTuber with a significant number of subscribers may be paid to include a short sponsor message in their video, or even create a custom video tailored to the brand’s product or USP. An example of this is the website building service, Squarespace, who regularly pays for short adverts at the beginning or end of videos by popular YouTubers such as Anna Akana and Wong Fu, among many others.
It’s worth noting that influencer marketing has made the news for its occasionally unscrupulous sides. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently clamped down on social media influencers who advertise products to their followers without clearly stating the nature of the advertisement, which can mislead followers into thinking that they are simply honest, unbiased recommendations.
While it may seem like negative press, it’s also a testament to the growing significance of influencer marketing amongst businesses and consumers today. If your business is looking to attract young consumers who spend a lot of time on the Internet, then influencer marketing is a strategy well worth exploring; as time goes on, its significance is likely only to increase.
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