The future of the influencer industry is arguably one of the fastest evolving and most talked about branches of social media and marketing today.

Known as an industry based around naivety and young people, influencer marketing is a popular option for brands to reach Millennials and Gen Z ‘organically’.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has already had to step in repeatedly and create new rules to regulate the industry to ensure it doesn’t breach the advertising laws. 

No more can influencers advertise without using #ad, as certain celebrities discovered. 

So, what exactly is an influencer? 

The lines are blurred when it comes to defining what makes someone an influencer. An influencer is a combination of 3 things; firstly, they are content creators. Secondly, they have a community of followers, and finally they are someone whose followers actively engage with their content. 

On social media, 90% of people are ‘lurkers’ – they look but don’t engage. 9% of people engage with content on social media and only 1% of the social media world create content and would be classed as ‘influencers’. – Neal Schaffer Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer and business consultant. 

It’s well known now that we, as humans, respond better to other humans rather than to brands. This is because we value emotional connections and relationships more than corporate branding. 

It’s far easier to sympathise with a person then a nameless logo. Audiences are increasingly savvier than they’ve ever been before and appreciate transparency and authenticity, which humans can express far more easily than a brand. 

Money talks (but not enough)

When it comes to influencer marketing, it’s important to consider that simply paying someone to promote your product will only get you so far. It will of course increase brand awareness – as in people will see your brand – but that’s about it. It’s not dissimilar to being a sponsor and having your logo somewhere on display because you’ve paid for it to be there. The brands that get the best results from influencers are brands that collaborate with them. 

Collaboration and working together is much more organic and authentic. That’s why clothing brands are working with influencers to design their own ranges. Lots of influencers are securing jobs in companies now as in-house content creators. This is a much more real and respectable approach to an audience then paying someone a lump some of money to take a photo with it once on instagram. 

No one likes advertising

As marketers and communicators, we must remember the fundamental purpose of social media is to connect and socialise with our friends. No matter how amazing or brilliant your service or product is, it won’t be welcomed by someone who doesn’t want to see it. 

Advertising is often ignored because it pops up in the middle of your favourite TV programme or against your will when you’re trawling through YouTube.  When influencers promote your brand, it’s going to an audience of people who have chosen to follow that influencer and therefore want to see that content (in most cases). 

Influencer marketing can have high impact

Despite influencer marketing being incredibly powerful when done right, some brands have also attracted incredible amounts of attention by being a little out-of-the-box with their customer service replies, speaking on behalf of the brand too. 

Let’s just take a minute to remember #AskEddie, the 15 year old who took Twitter by storm on his week of work experience at Southern Rail. How did he get so much attention? By being human! His authenticity was real despite representing a brand, which was unheard of at the time. Other brands have taken similar approaches since and gained similar attention. 

A more recent example is KFC calling out someone who tweeted about not liking their chips. They responded to the tweet, made the tweet the face of a huge ad campaign and actually changed their chips. 

What most people don’t know is that the person who wrote the tweet was actually a drum and bass DJ that meant that they (accidentally?) tapped into a very niche crowd. That community saw the posts repeatedly for weeks spread around various forums with around 50k members each and it was even talked about at all sorts of drum and bass events everywhere. 

The DJ wouldn’t have been classed as a big time influencer by his followers, but his audience are very highly engaged with his content. The fact that KFC took the tweet personally, and responded as a human whilst utilising the power of being a brand made the campaign immensely successful. Well played, KFC!

Considering working with an influencer to gain more reach for your brand online? Speak to us– we create reach for brands with passion and purpose.