The Influencer Effect: The New Age of Marketing Authenticity

April 13, 2018 by Amanda Call

Over the past decade, the dominating force of social media has completely changed how brands market themselves and their products. The days of celebrities being the primary face of brands have become a fond memory on a Wheaties’ box. This is partly because celebrity endorsements can not only be expensive and have high production costs, but also because technology and access to information have made consumers savvier than ever. Let’s be real: no one thinks Britney Spears actually drinks Pepsi anymore (even though I’m not sure we ever did).

Marketers are seeing a growing demand to be more authentic and transparent with their content. The constant challenge of staying relevant in our ever-changing digital world, while competing for attention across critical touch points, has paved the way for the rise of the influencer.

Studies have shown that influencer marketing delivers 11x more ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing; attributed significantly to the way consumers feel about authenticity and how valuable it has become. In turn, the need for authenticity has completely changed the way we approach our jobs in the world of digital marketing. Long gone are the days of the, “how can we sell this?” Instead, our focus is on the customer; their respective challenge and how we can be the authentic solution. As a result, in building that brand trust, working with macro and micro influencers is a great tool to increase our clients’ brand awareness, sales and credibility.

Micro influencers are defined as those with less than 100,000 followers across their social media platforms. They work in a way similar to word of mouth, and they share images that feel authentic including the products they buy or use (even though they sometimes maybe staged). This kind of authenticity encourages engagement, brand recall, and awareness.

Macro influencers are usually considered to be a household name and have followers across social platforms into the millions. Often times they will be approached by a business or brand to share their product or service with specific parameters. This approach can be beneficial for visibility and awareness. The downside is that the product placement can often feel obvious or inauthentic and certain macro influencers can have substantial costs (Kim Kardashian reportedly receives $500,000 for a single Instagram post to her 109 million followers).

It is projected that from 2018 – 2019, budgets for influencer marketing will increase 48%. As influencer marketing matures and budgets continue to grow we will begin to see integration across other digital channels, and the leveraging of content beyond the initial program to improve performance across paid, owned and earned media.

The focus for the foreseeable future of influencer marketing will be tracking exact ROI, improving influencer discovery, vetting influencers and engaging in those relationships. Marketers are also beginning to benchmark the performance of influencer content against the content created by the brands themselves to determine the best overall media plan. The ultimate test will be creating a media plan that is structured enough to be able to be tested, and flexible enough to create an authentic point of view that can keep up with our ever-changing world.