Influencer Marketing: Driving Authentic Digital Engagement

January 15, 2018

MarTech Advisor | January 15, 2018 – Traditional advertising is on a steep decline with about 26% of internet users adopting ad blockers and an overall slump in radio and traditional TV viewership. But the fall of old-school advertising has given rise to a new form of promotion–influencer marketing.

Look at your social media feeds and you’ll see everyone from fashion and beauty brands to restaurants and CPGs getting in on the action. Influencer marketing actually works, and it can be an effective tool for consumer experience marketing.

Influencer marketing is just like the title says—it’s about tapping into brand enthusiasts who have a healthy social media following and who are advocating on behalf of the brand. This is not just about building brand awareness, but also about driving action—whether that’s encouraging consumers to seek out more information, or to make a purchase, or to become advocates themselves.

Unlike celebrity endorsements, true influencer marketing is more authentic and offers more back-and-forth between an influencer and his or her followers. The selected influencers aren’t simply salespeople, but real consumers who are passionate about sharing the products they love. This might include anyone from a foodie photographer with a great following on Instagram, to a mom chronicling life with little ones on her blog, to a teenager posting about her favorite beauty finds on YouTube.

While influencer marketing is gaining a lot of traction, there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Influencer marketing isn’t necessarily right for everyone, for example, if you don’t have an audience that’s on a particular platform or a product that lends itself to promotion by an influencer, it might not make sense.

Even when it does make sense, you need to be careful about finding the right influencers that have genuine engagement with their followers. A big problem right now with influencer marketing is that there are people who are creating accounts and purchasing followers. This can make it look like they have a huge audience, but if you really dig into the comments, you can see that there’s little to no relevant back-and-forth with their followers.

There’s also a fair amount of confusion around how to compensate influencers. Most influencers are paid for the content they create and some are compensated with free product. Additionally, the FTC requires brands and influencers to disclose any material relationship between them in the content created clearly and conspicuously. And while some in the public have a general mistrust of paid endorsements, an authentic influencer would be upfront about the brand partnership, and more importantly, wouldn’t jeopardize their credibility, or their following, to shill product they don’t believe in.

It is in this realness and authenticity that the power of influence marketing lies. A growing number of consumers, particularly in younger generations, are placing less trust in traditional forms of advertising and instead seeking out more human-to-human interactions. Influencer marketing can give retailers and brands one more tool in their toolbox of consumer engagement —and is one of the few ways to truly personalize digital engagement.

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