More than 75% of brands and companies recently surveyed indicate they will increase their budget for content production and social media influencers. However, influence marketing has suddenly become so popular, to the point of becoming the most overused ¨buzzword¨ of the year.
There seems to be some confusion between recommendations or spokesperson campaigns with strategies for optimizing content and marketing with influencers. We still mix the notions of advertising and sponsorship with influence marketing.
The misleading popularity of ‘Influenceuratis’
Over the past few years, there has been a dazzling emergence of “Influenceratis” appearing on popular platforms, and quickly become very popular. Some of these niche bloggers (video games, books, family, fashion, cooking, travel, etc.) have quickly replaced media personalities and celebrities in marketing campaigns. However, in the eyes of the consumer protection laws, by collaborating in a recommendation campaign, or acting as a spokesperson or ambassador in return for remuneration, these “influenceratis” are considered providers of advertising services. Just like a paid media service that sells spaces for ads. If they have accepted payment for a blog or recommendation, participate in an ambassador event or product/service launch, it must be clearly stated to avoid misleading consumers.
In recent years, unfortunately, this has not always been the case. As we recently saw a major video game brand was cited for failing to mention their business connections to the public. These regrettable incidents have greatly tarnished the reputation of influencers in certain business circles. They have contributed to distorting the notion of marketing influence to brands.
At the risk of repeating myself, marketing influence on social media is much more complex than just a spokesperson campaign or recommendation. This is a new approach to inbound marketing involves several components, and therefore several steps. This is much more than just a blog post or sponsored magazine article, which all too often is disguised as a native advert.
Influencer marketing relies on trust and reciprocity
The influence is built on the foundation of trust and reciprocity. They must be established between the influential (individual or group) and the influencer. To be influenced by an opinion, the user-consumer must first trust them and give the influencer a certain credibility. However, this credibility and confidence is developed with a profitable and valuable exchange between the 2 parties. Each stakeholder must feel that he or she receives fair benefits. And this relationship of trust and collaboration can never be fairly established if 1 of the parties thinks the other one is trying to profit from it.
The influence on the Web and social networks is contextual. It’s necessary to know how to address the right person, at the right time and with the right content. Each influencer exerts an influence on a particular subject and reaches specific clientele. It’s his niche and what his community is interested in. Identifying the right type of influencer according to the target audience requires a good understanding of the audience and the role they can play in an influence marketing strategy.
Contrary to recommendation campaigns with celebrities and stars of the popular platforms whose selection was mainly based on direct sales, visibility, and goodwill. The intervention of micro–influencers (ambassadors among staff, employees, and customers) and thought leaders (sector specialists, academic experts, and technical analysts) will be based on other criteria and considerations.
These influencers have acquired their credibility and developed their enviable reputation through the quality of their interactions and the relevance of the content they publish. This often has a lot more weight than the pay they get from a sponsored blog post or a recommendation campaign. The relationship that should be developed should be more focused on collaboration and reciprocity. Both sides should receive a benefit.
In the same way, advertising on social media and blog sponsorship should naturally integrate into marketing strategies. But businesses and organizations can’t rely solely on this. The explosion of the Web and social media has drastically changed brand/customer relationships. Today, connected consumers aren’t confident in company’s message. They demand the opportunity to speak up and be listened to, and relationships now go in both directions. Consumers should be treated as equals, and their expectations should be met by improving the quality of their experience.
What do you think? Do you agree with the idea that an influencer marketing strategy shouldn’t be built only on recommendations and sponsored blogs? Share your opinion on the subject by commenting on this article.