Influencer Marketing: What Is It? Does It Work?

Influencer Marketing: What Is It? Does It Work?

I recently found myself casually scrolling down my Instagram feed and was fascinated by the amount of advertisements I saw. Yes, you read right, advertisements on Instagram. By this I don’t mean the obvious, ‘get your home teeth whitening device from our online store today’, but more like a range of celebrities who ‘use the product on a daily basis’. While I was doing my daily feed scroll, I grew more and more eager to buy something, no matter what it was, I was ready to buy it. The reason behind this motive, is the fact that the people I saw using these products (that I suddenly wanted to buy) made the product look so convincing – like something I really needed. I then had to stop myself, and this is when I came to the realisation that I had fallen into the trap of the influencer marketing strategy.

Influencer marketing has become the next best thing in advertising, and more and more companies are making use of this tool as the world shifts to social media. Influencer marketing is defined as ‘a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive a brand’s message to a larger market’. Although we have all grown tired of the online banner ads and pop-ups, we seem to never notice how attracted we are to someone else – more especially social leaders – using a product and testifying about it on social media. Social media has evolved from a platform people use only to talk about themselves, to an instrument used to spread the word about products and services they use. We seem to be more open to hearing about another person’s experience with a product or service than we are towards seeing an advertisement. This is why companies now use people – like you and I – with a large social media following to advertise their products or services. Think of it as product placement, but on a celebrity’s (or an online personality’s) social media posts.

Instead of a company spending millions on an advertising campaign, the trend has now shifted towards hiring, inspiring or paying an influencer to get the word out there. This then begs the question: “Are we becoming a species of ‘Monkey see, Monkey do’”? Of course we are, and this isn’t something new. For the longest time, we have used the element of word-of-mouth to decide whether we want to buy a product or use a service. We make our decision based on how others feel about products or – more importantly – who is using it.

Let’s throw some numbers into the mix: 47% of online customers use ad block technology, meaning the best way to reach them is to provide content they want from people they trust (ion, 2016). The individuals that people tend to trust nowadays are people who have a large following and presence on social media and these days, that translates to the fact that the individual is actually worth listening to. In this day and age, the individuals with a large social media following are not necessarily celebrities, but are ‘normal’ people who just portray a life worth living. 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands (ion, 2016). So this means that people would actually much rather hear about a brand from anyone but the brand itself. 74% of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions, many of which will be based on the general perception of other social media users towards the brand.

It’s safe to say that because consumers have started relying on other users for information on certain brands, influencer marketing is the new way to spread the word about a new product or service. So, for all companies reviewing their advertising spend and where to improve in future, be sure to keep in mind that consumers believe consumers.

Digital Grind sources, tracks and measures influencers and influencer marketing for specific brands. This is obviously in line with the brand, the region (or country) and the target audience, and is certainly key when evaluating a brand’s marketing mix.

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