What is influencer marketing and why is it so controversial?

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is when brands work with celebrities, popular bloggers or social media users – often with a large and/or engaged online following – to help them promote their products or services.

Brands might send a gift free of charge to the influencer in the hope they will be seen using the item or share a photo of it online, or they might come to an agreement where the influencer is paid to review the item or create content – such as videos, images, podcasts, blogs and social media posts.

What is influencer marketing and why is it so controversial? Unhooked Communications digital marketing, SEO and PR blog post.

Is influencer marketing a new trend?

Yes and no. For decades brands have realised celebrities and people in the public eye hold a lot of influence and tried to use this to their advantage. From lending designer dresses and jewellery for award ceremonies to giving them free holidays or complimentary meals in restaurants, brands have showered famous folk with freebies for years in the hope they’ll be papped using the item, spotted in their establishment or heard publically praising the product or service.

But over recent years, with the growing popularity of blogs and social media, we’ve seen otherwise ‘normal’ people gaining clout. By posting about their hobbies, interests, passions and areas of expertise, pretty much anyone with a computer, smartphone and broadband connection can start to build their online audience.

We often engage a lot more with non-celebrity influencers, feel they have more in common with us and trust or agree with their opinions more. And it didn’t take brands long to realise this and see so-called online influencers as potentially lucrative ambassadors for their products or services.

What the influencer marketing stats say

But just how effective is influencer marketing? Very, according to some studies.

Influencer marketing company, Collective Bias, produces several reports a year based on its own findings and work, with some recent stats including:

  • Non-celebrity influencers are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases
  • 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people – even ones they don’t know – over branded content
  • Influencer content is viewed 7x longer than the average digital ad
  • Mums are 68 percent more likely to buy something if the marketing matches their personality or lifestyle.

Pretty impressive, right?

How effective is influencer marketing and blogger outreach

So why is influencer marketing so controversial at the moment?

Where do we start?

There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without a new story about influencer marketing hitting the headlines.

We’ve had investigations into ‘social media fraud’, with companies selling followers and engagement to celebrities, bloggers and brands.

There have been outcries over bloggers asking for freebies, which in one case resulted in a hotel banning all social media influencers.

Peculiar stories of an Instagrammer ‘stalking’ and copying a popular travel blogger, which may or may not have been a hoax and publicity stunt by the blogger.

Social media platforms cutting ties with shocking stars.

Influencers and brands flouting advertising legislation.

And we could go on.

But this isn’t reflective of all influencer marketing campaigns

Influencer marketing is big business. But in the rush for brands to find the right voices to help them sell their products or services, and an increasing number of bloggers trying to monetise their online channels, it’s no wonder that this new marketing tactic has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When approached properly, influencer marketing can be hugely effective for brands – but they need to know how to:

  • find and approach the right bloggers, creators and influencers for their business
  • build and maintain relationships with influencers
  • develop a creative, collaborative approach to content creation
  • plan and deliver a meaningful campaign that suits their objectives and budget
  • measure the impact and success of their blogger outreach and influencer marketing campaign.

Advice for brands, marketers and PRs approaching influencer marketing

Business, brands and marketers who want advice on how best to approach influencer marketing are invited to attend Influencers Unhooked: What brands, marketers and PRs need to know about influencer marketing and blogger outreach.

The event will be held Monday 5th March 2018 at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation from 6.30pm. Influencers Unhooked offers a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from a panel of four influencers, content creators and bloggers:

As well as the panel discussion, there will be a drinks reception and networking opportunities.

You can find out more information and buy tickets via the Eventbrite website.

For questions about the event or to talk about future events, please contact us.

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