In the social media age, marketing with Instagram and YouTube sensations used to be a sure fire way for marketers to raise awareness and attract business – but does it still work?
There are countless online celebrities with huge followings ripe for marketers to utilise to reach new audiences. Using a trusted and familiar face to promote products or services is not a new branch of marketing, but Vloggers and Lifestyle/Wellness Instagram accounts have devoted fan bases who can be difficult to reach through traditional methods. In fact, Minute Hack estimates influencer marketing is worth $2 billion on Instagram alone.
Sponsoring content or becoming a content partner with an influencer lends itself to certain sectors, most notably fashion, food, travel destinations or beauty products. However, some believe influencers can be used for a wide range of products and industries.
Danielle Wiley, CEO of the San Francisco based influencer marketing agency Sway Group, argues that influencer marketing can work for any business, even delicate health products. She highlights a campaign Sway Group ran on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which engaged with health-focused influencers between the age of 20-50.
“By tackling this personal subject with bravery and honesty, influencers fostered a valuable series of conversations about IBS that not only met client engagement goals but helped sufferers know they aren’t alone,” Wiley wrote in Forbes Councils. She believes it is the honesty and realism that can only be offered with known and trusted influencers.
Influencer marketing is not just a young person’s game either. The online phenomenon of Mummy Blogging (or Mommy Blogging) has enabled millions of mothers to support each other and brands have pitched in.
The Washington Post highlights the lucrative business for mothers online, including some earning upto $5000 per product placement.
However, influencer marketing can easily go wrong when products and personalities are poorly combined. Only last week international footballer and Barcelona star Luis Suarez was ridiculed for his part in promoting holidays in Malaysia.
In a tweet in both English and Spanish, the Uruguayan striker highlighted 18th century Dutch architecture on offer in Malaysia in a totally unbelievable ploy by marketers to harness Suarez’s nearly 14 million followers. This only reflects badly on Luis Suarez and his team.
Another warning can be seen in one-time success stories in the UK. An Influencer’s success online doesn’t always guarantee success in the real world. Ella Mills, of Deliciously Ella fame, cultivated an Instagram following of 1.2 million and published a best selling cookbook. However has recently had to close two of her three delicatessens and posted losses of over £720,000. While Millie Mackintosh (Instagram: 1.3million and Twitter 776,000) has had to liquidate her fashion label, Cammac, owing over £548,000.
While marketers continue to throw money at YouTube and Instagram stars, a study suggests influencers and brands need to be transparent about their relationship. Prizeology, a prize promotions agency, found the public were unsure of the ASA regulation around influencer promotions but over half (66%) of people’s opinions of brands improved when they felt influencers were being transparent about their relationship with a particular brand.
Influencer marketing is still a thing but marketers need to be careful about who they choose to promote which product or service. The practice works in principle but brands must forge proper relationships with influencers and respect the Influencer’s following without overloading them with products.