We can all agree that Social Media has taken over our lives and social networking has been expanding quickly over the globe. People are spending more time online liking posts on Facebook sharing tweets, posting photos on Instagram etc… We can no longer imagine a world without Social networks or even how was it before this era? There are currently 2.6 Billion active Social Media users in the world and 1.9 Billion active mobile social users. This is a 10% growth in Social Media users compared to 2015 and 17% growth of mobile social users compared to 2015.
In fact, the average person has five social media accounts and spends at least 1 hour and 40 minutes daily on Social Media. What does all this mean for brands and businesses?
Brands are increasingly using social channels to target their consumers and influence them to make a purchase or even convert them to become loyal. Brands and businesses are becoming obsessed with Social Media to drive strong brand presence, increase their followers and of course engagement. Brands have been using different social strategies to influence their audience. However, we have all encountered the over use of social influencers. Unfortunately, few brands are getting it right, as there are no criteria to become an influencer. If you have a big number of followers, you are considered part of this bubble. Most of the times marketers end up wasting their time by choosing the wrong influencers that are neither influential nor relevant.
So, what is the actual impact of Social Media influencers?
Social influencer marketing is the ability to reach out to a new audience (big or small) through the social influencer’s platforms from blogs, websites and Social Media profiles. A social Influencer is simply a person who can influence other people. In the beginning, celebrities were used as Social Influencers for brand endorsement, however, now everyone is a celebrity. With a big number of followers on Facebook and Instagram, you are simply an influencer.
Usually, a potential customer is most likely to get influenced by someone close to him as a friend, or family or someone he just admires. However, in the digital world now, it is extending beyond that, into the age of social influencers. We see every day new trendsetters influencing their friends, family and followers.
One hears very often in the field that there are many benefits generated through working with influencers including high affinity and credibility as well as incremental reach. How true is that? And how cost effective is it versus spending your marketing budget on a billboard or in magazines. Well, there is a mixed feedback regarding that based on some Instagram tools like InstaBrand which considers the word of mouth that influencers are generating is worth much more than an ad campaign. “Furthermore, a McKinsey study found that word-of-mouth influence doubles the sales of paid advertising and boosts the customer retention rate by 37%.”. Another accurate statistic from Forbes magazine states that: “data from influencer marketing platform MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.”
Therefore, blind choice of an influencer is not best practice marketing. It must be aligned with the overall content strategy and brand image. The influencer should be reaching out to a relevant type of audience, it should be a good fit to your brand as a profile (from style, content, quality etc…). the good thing about the digital world is that everything can be tracked, even social influencers. There are three essential metrics to measure it which are: Reach, Relevance and Influence. Measuring these data plays a big role in choosing the right influencer for brands.
It has become very crucial to have influencers discuss the brand experience. This has had a great influence on buyers and especially those who are affected by reviews and comments. At the end of the day, brands should make sure that the consumers are happy, satisfied and are purchasing their products.
Nevertheless, the over use of Social Media Influencers is becoming ineffective for many reasons, here are some of them:
- Obsessed with numbers: If the influencer has a big number of followers, it doesn’t mean that he is credible to your brand. It is about quality, not quantity. Quality is referred to high engagement rates, loyalty from followers and transparency in the communication. Giving the example of Beauty blogger Huda Kattan with 15.9 M followers on Instagram who launched her first own beauty Lip Line at Sephora Middle East and got it sold out in just few minutes. This is positive for the influencers business, but doesn’t build long term relationships for Sepohra https://www.instagram.com/hudabeauty/?hl=en
- Ruined by commercials: Influencers are becoming commercial and “money driven” rather than being passionate about the brand, to the point that there is less authenticity & commitment to the brand. There any many examples for this argument. For example, French Fashion blogger, Dubai based Kate Lebrasse, has posted many times about a fashion brand and the next day some posts about some of its competitors. https://www.instagram.com/katlebrasse/?hl=en
- Competition: Influencers are competing to work with brands, their focus is to get the next contract rather than building a relationship with their audience. As there is a high competition between influencers, there is no more connection with their audience.
- Any influencer will do: Brands tend to over use social media influencers by choosing many influencers for a campaign. Most of the times, it turns out that they are using irrelevant influencers that don’t share the same tone of voice as the brand.
- The over use of Hashtags. It is true that hashtags are the dominant act for companies to join the discussion on social media. However, hashtags are not always relevant and many times it has gone wrong. For example, Digiorno Pizza that took advantage of the trending hashtag #WhyIStayed which was used by Women explaining the reasons that made them stay in an abusive relationship, Digiorno tweeted “WhyIStayed you had pizza”. They had to apologize and remove the tweet immediately stating that they didn’t know the significance behind the hashtag.
In conclusion, Influencers have been a great tool for marketers influencing buying behaviours and showing great impact. However, there is no regulation around the use of influencers, and the latest trend is that brands can buy influencers using programmatic media, that will change the business model we see now. Deals will be done with software and in a bidding marketing place, just like Facebook ads, as opposed to the current way where social influencers provide rate cards with no KPI’s or analytics.
However, brands should not over use social influencers and chose the ones that can relate to their brand and that can speak the same tone of voice. Brands will be investing more in social influencers marketing in 2017 and it will only keep growing. That’s why if there is a social influencer that generates good quality content, that is loved and trusted by its audience then this could be a long-term ambassador investment for the future rather than over using 15 other influencers. We come back again to the criteria listed above when choosing the right influencers: Reach, relevance and Influence.
Will 2017 be the year that influencer marketing comes of age? Is the latest trend that social influencers follow the maturity of social media ads, and mobile ads? If so, this would be very positive for the advertising industry and for the brands that engage in influencer marketing.