A great philosopher once said: “It’s not all about the money, money, money”. Okay, it was actually Jessie J in her first big hit ‘Price Tag’. While the sentiment of the song is self-explanatory, what we didn’t know at the time of its release was that this song was all about social influencers.
Recently this group has been accused of using their popular feeds, with typically large followings, to promote brands’ products for a fee and inadvertently taking advantage of young social media users. In some cases, this criticism is fair, but I believe it’s a biased view of the industry. A recent BBC Panorama investigation sparked a heated online debate with some viewers stating that the programme didn’t provide a “balanced” view of the topic. The programme highlighted the ease of which diet supplements, gambling-related products and alcohol are promoted on digital platforms but seemed to imply that all influencers who promote products on their social media profiles are doing so in an irresponsible and harmful manner. This is simply not the case.
In September 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority released the Influencer’s Guide that outlines the rules that social media influencers need to abide by when promoting products online. The guide states it’s the responsibility of both the influencer and the brand to ensure that advertising content is labelled as such using hashtags like #ad, #sponsored or #freebie. No one can disagree that these measures offer more transparency to the industry but should brands still consider partnering with influencers? Let’s consider the advantages:
Firstly, it’s now widely accepted that consumers are more likely to trust the people they see on their social media feeds than in traditional marketing. Secondly, social influencers allow businesses to reach larger audiences, promote positive branding and increase customer engagement and awareness. And finally, influencer marketing is a growing industry: in 2018, Google searches for the term “influencer marketing” increased by 325% compared within 2017.
In conclusion, the power of influencer marketing is continuing to grow from strength to strength and I don’t think businesses should be put off by the recent bad press of the role of a social influencer. By working with them, brands can gain a lot of value, especially as part of an integrated marketing campaign and using the right strategy to support them.