By: Victoria Price
Social media has completely changed the advertising and public relations game and continues to do so every day. In 2019, social media users spent an average of 1 hour and 14 minutes per day on social media (eMarketer). With that being said, it comes as no surprise that influencer marketing has taken over the industry for brand and product promotion. Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing that focuses on individuals who are perceived to be opinion-leaders and have a connected, trusting relationship with the target audience. Brands or companies will pay these social media influencers to endorse their product or service to their followers.
Influencer marketing has proved to be very effective and beneficial to most marketers. It provides the advantage of reaching both a broad and niche audience, depending on the category of content the influencer falls under, like fashion, beauty, fitness, etc. and the number of followers they have. 80% of marketers say that influencer marketing is effective and 89% say that return-on-investment is comparable to or better than other marketing channels, with companies earning approximately $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing (“Influencer Marketing Study,” 2019).
Influencer marketing isn’t necessarily about using influencers with the biggest reach or largest following to promote a brand. Micro-influencers, those who have somewhere between 1,000 and 50,000 followers, tend to generate more engagement than mega-influencers like Kim Kardashian, for example, who has 160 million followers. Micro-influencers are a great way to reach a more niche, targeted audience and tend to be more connected to their followers. Google, for example, worked with two micro-influencers to promote their new Pixelbook laptop. The influencers, @thesorrygirls on Instagram, ran a giveaway contest for the Pixelbook and generated an engagement rate of 59.4%. They had less than 100,000 followers at the time (“20 Killer Examples of Influencer Marketing,” n.d.).
This form of marketing is so important now because consumers are becoming very hard to reach with traditional digital advertising. 66% of consumers are “overwhelmed by too many online marketing messages” and 20% of them “would boycott a brand because of excessive ads” (“What is Influencer Marketing?” 2019). Brands need to share their message and it seems that doing so through a trusted, more authentic source is the answer. Influencers are typically trusted by their followers and they will value their opinion and promotion of a brand or product more than they value traditional, faceless marketing.
While influencer marketing provides many advantages for brands, it doesn’t come without disadvantages. One of the most well-known event/campaign failures to date, Fyre Festival, is a great (or not so great) example. Fyre Festival was a fraudulent music festival in which many mega-influencers, like Kendall Jenner, were paid copious amounts of money to promote the event and get people to buy tickets. In the end, people showed up to the event located in the middle of nowhere and found it to be nothing like the promotions claimed and not even 25% of the tickets ended up being sold. This failed promotion shows that lack of transparency and low engagement from mega-influencers can be disastrous for a brand. Many brands have taken note from this disaster and are less willing to pay influencers solely based on follower count and that “more thoughtful approaches to campaigns [will] better harness the power of influencer marketing” (“No, Fyre Fest Wasn’t an Influencer Marketing Success,” 2019).
I can personally attribute a lot of the products I have purchased to influencer marketing. I follow a lot of influencers, both micro and macro, on Instagram and YouTube, and have found myself buying products they have promoted, even though I probably wouldn’t have bought them otherwise. I don’t see this form of marketing going anywhere anytime soon and I think it’s safe to make the prediction that more brands will continue to invest in influencer marketing for years to come.
20 Killer Examples of Influencer Marketing. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.travelmindset.com/20-influencer-marketing-examples/.
eMarketer. (June 10, 2019). Average daily time spent on social networks by users in the United States from 2015 to 2021 (in hours.minutes) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://www-statista-com.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/statistics/1018324/us-users-daily-social-media-minutes/.
Influencer Marketing Study. (2019, December 9). Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://www.tomoson.com/blog/influencer-marketing-study/.
No, Fyre Festival Wasn’t an Influencer Marketing Success (and Other Lessons from a Disaster). (2019, January 31). Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://influencermarketinghub.com/no-fyre-festival-wasnt-an-influencer-marketing-succ ess-and-other-lessons-from-a-disaster/.
What is Influencer Marketing?: Read The Ultimate Guide. (2019, November 13). Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://www.tapinfluence.com/blog-what-is-influencer-marketing/.