The Rise of Social Media Influencers

You may have heard of the term “Social Media Influencer” but do you know what it is and why does this matter?

What is a Social Media Influencer?

A Social Media Influencer is a person on social media that has the ability to influence or affect the purchase decisions of others and is usually somebody with a large or loyal audience who has credibility through a specific industry. These types of industries can range from fitness gurus, gaming addicts, beauty bloggers, fashionistas and others.  These Influencers have a strong following on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Through their large audience base, Influencers have the control to affect their audience’s decision by creating a glorified look on products and the Influencers perceived lifestyles. Influencers are the quiet achievers with their marketing technique predicted to be a 2.3 Billion US dollars industry by 2020 as reported by Statista.com.

How is influence marketing measured?

Influencers are primarily categorized based on their reach, relevance to the target audience and the resonance. Influencers use their brand or structure such as clothing or fitness to gather their followers and once they have a large enough audience, they can market their brand or self to promote a company’s product or brand through the spread of viral conversations about brands online.

So you need a lot of followers to be an Influencer? (Spoiler: Not really)

There are many different levels of Influencers ranging from Mega Influencers to Nano Influencers. Mega Influencers tend to be celebrities or people that are well known, and Nano Influencers are people that have below 1000 followers. However, more followers does not always mean more effective marketing. It was found that Micro Influencers have been far more effective than Macro Influencers as they can connect better to their audience through personal stories to a more limited number of followers.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has several benefits such as positive brand associations, leveraging Influencer’s reputation, amplifying the message to a wider network, Increasing relevance within a target market, Enhanced word-or-mouth, Social proof and Expert endorsement. All this combined helps assist with driving purchasing decisions. This is evident as statistics on social media Influencers collated by the Digital Marketing Institute found that 40% of people had admitted to purchasing products after seeing it on social media.

Negatives of Influencer Marketing

Social Media Influencing has also come under scrutiny by the public with many celebrities and Influencers losing credibility through lack of transparency between brands and Influencers.

This lack of transparency has caused a lot of issues for Social Media Influencers. An example of this is the Oreo Challenge by the YouTuber Amazing Phil. The YouTuber was filmed performing the Oreo Challenge and It was not made clear the video was a promotion for the brand. This led to followers of the channel believing that the content was genuine with no monetary motivation or agenda. Not only was it illegal but also reflected negatively on the brands involved. While the video has been removed a link to the article can be found here.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Perception of easy money has also caused a prevalence of more people to try and become Social Media Influencers. This saturation of Influencers has also led to the prevalence of fake profiles and bots that have caused consumers and industry bodies to question the reputation of some Influencers.

Ethics of Social Media Influencers

Ethics around social media has been a big topic lately when we think back to Facebook privacy laws and the GDPR. But what about the ethics related to Social Media Influencers and the products they promote.


A survey conducted from Campaign found from the data that 71% of people felt as though there were no rules around the use of social media Influencers, despite the fact that they are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

There have been also a number of news articles within Australia related to Social Media Influencers promoting products such as alcohol. Please feel free to join in the discussion in the video below

Summary

Despite awkwardness and controversies that seem to go hand in hand with Influencer Marketing the industry still looks to be on track and is proving to be one of the most effective marketing tactics for younger generations.

In a world where technology is ever present and continually evolving it is unclear what the future of the Social Media Influencer will look like.

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