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Influencers and Brand Advocates

Bang Digital // 02nd September 2016

bangdigitalFour-year-old Pixie Curtis has 110,000 followers on Instagram, and makes up to $500 per product placement.

New York-based blogger Danielle Bernstein earns $5000 – $15,000 per post.

The rise of Influencer Marketing has introduced a new way for businesses to reach a niche, highly engaged group on social platforms. The new celebrity endorsement, people who actively choose to follow certain social media stars are arguably one of the most captivated audiences.

A way to amplify marketing messages, businesses are using Influencer Marketing as a measure against the growing shift towards a distrust and even active avoidance of overtly ‘salesy’ marketing.

An Influencer’s worth is measured in their number of followers and how engaged their audience is, in order to be a compelling force that affects the actions, behaviours or opinions of followers. It’s not about coercion or argument, but rather just the connection between the Influencer and the brand is what convinces people of its benefits and desirability.

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Media technology company RhythmOne conduct an Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report which measures Earned Media Value, a means of determining “amplification effect” through publicity, social sharing and endorsement. They found that for every US$1 spent on their Influencer marketing programs in 2015, advertisers received US$9.60 in Earned Media Value. They also found that Instagram was the highest performing social media channel for Social Amplification.

It’s highly recommended that Influencers specify if they have been paid to post something. In the US the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on sponsored content that is unidentifiable as such, with the recent case against fashion retailer Lord & Taylor who ran a successful Instagram Influencer campaign for the launch of their new line. While the dress sold out, the FTC found that the social campaign was misleading as it implied that the content posted by the 50 fashion bloggers reflected “the independent statements of impartial fashion influencers” when in fact the posts were paid for.

Influencers also need to be careful to protect their reputation as a trustworthy and authentic source of information. Followers are becoming increasingly savvy in determining when something is posed or fake, and too many paid posts can damage their status and credibility.

The true value is in finding brand advocates. Whereas Influencers may not truly support the brand they are paid to promote, advocates are more likely to drive action rather than just awareness.

Brand advocates are often highly satisfied customers and are likely to recommend your business to their friends and family, whether they are paid to do it or not. While their network may not reach as far as a social media star, the benefits of authentic and trustworthy recommendations are significant and extremely valuable. Plus, their loyalty stretches longer than the time it takes for the Influencers post to be buried.

It is worth noting that Influencers can also be brand advocates – the two are not mutually exclusive.

Both Influencers and brand advocates can play an important part in a strong content marketing campaign, but it’s important to ensure that all activity is focused on achieving your overall business objectives.

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