The rise of Social Media Influencers (yes, they matter!)

Five years ago, who would have thought you could have the job title ‘Social Media Influencer’?!

And here we are in 2018, with more social media influencers than ever, making a living through your brand.

It’s the phenomenon that has added a new dimension to how we market, how we purchase, and who we trust.

If you’re wondering the value of influencer marketing, or the legitimacy of it, I have one statistic for you. Businesses are seeing a return of approximately $7.65 per $1 invested in influencer marketing*.

As of 2016, influencer marketing has overtaken print marketing for effectiveness, with the impacts of print marketing quickly subsiding. And it’s all thanks to us – the consumers. We are 74% more likely to trust brands that engage social influencers*. It’s a scary thought – we are trusting people who are being paid by a company to voice their opinion (which often consists of being told what their opinion is).

Until now there hasn’t been many rules around the relationship between influencers and brands or with influencers and their content. Instagram was first to change this last year, where they brought in disclosure guidelines. Influencers are now required to disclose in their content if the business relationship has a “material connection”*. This can be monetary payment, gift exchange, or a business / family relationship. This is why you’ll see hashtags such as …

  • #sponsored
  • #ad
  • #partner
  • #spon

Now Facebook are following suit. In February they decided to revisit their branded-content guidelines, making collaborations between Influencers and brands far more honest. In their new guidelines it states that influencers or page owners must NOT accept anything of value in exchange for sharing content that they did not contribute to creating. Gone are the days of sharing posts for a return! Influencers must now create the content they distribute. After all, they’re being labelled as ‘creators’, aren’t they? So it would only make sense that they stay true to this and ‘create’ content, rather than endorsing a product with someone else’s words.

I believe this is where we will start to filter through the true influencers and those that tow the corporate line for money or status. True influencers work hard for their brands, they love what they do and they believe in what they promote.

What do I think businesses should do? We know that using influencers works. Building a relationship with your brand influencers is key, so picking just any ‘influencer’, is not going to work. You must treat this as you would any other marketing exercise. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Will my influencer be able to / be equipped to speak about my brand or product without being fed the lines?
  • Is there an obvious connection between my influencer and my brand?
  • Will I be able to measure return on investment? How will the influencer help me do this?

Data Sources:

Influencer Marketing Hub https://influencermarketinghub.com/the-definitive-guide-to-influencer-marketing/

Leverage Marketing https://www.theleverageway.com/blog/influencer-marketing-facts-statistics/

Digiday https://digiday.com/media/facebooks-new-branded-content-guidelines-will-force-publishers-abandon-business-model/

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