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Influencer Marketing Is A Locomotive With No Sign Of Slowing Down

Influencer marketing is big business nowadays, but just make sure you don't back the wrong horse.

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Influencer marketing is big business nowadays, but just make sure you don't back the wrong horse.

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Influencer Marketing Is A Locomotive With No Sign Of Slowing Down

Influencer marketing is big business nowadays, but just make sure you don't back the wrong horse.

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A friend of mine in his late 20’s thinks he is pretty cool. So, based upon that assumption, he posts photos of himself posing on the streets of London upward to two times a day, in what he considers to be trendy men’s fashion.

As a result, completely unsolicited, a new apparel company sent him t-shirts. How they got his address is a mystery but regardless, they sent him a pile of free stuff with a clear message - if he posted and tagged the company, there would be plenty more where that came from.

He said to me, “look, I’m a real influencer now…" and I thought, with no disrespect, you are the furthest thing from a real influence. This was the perfect example of random, accompanied by random, resulting in random.

It is indicative of the current influencer culture we live in. It’s fast, it’s digital and it's always on the search for the next big thing. From small start-up brands to massive fortune 100 companies, everyone is jumping on the influencer train.

I’ve been studying and implementing influencer campaigns since the early 2000s. PMK-BNC, where I’ve worked for the last 15 years, was one of the first marketing and communication agencies to actually bridge the gap between entertainment and brands as the catalyst to influencer marketing as we know it today.

influencer

Influencer or pretender?

Fifteen years ago it was extremely challenging to get brands to see its value and allocate funding. There was no social media and everything was about the celebrity of the moment.

Fast forward to now and 63% of marketers have increased their influencer marketing budgets for 2017 and 84% say they will do at least one influencer marketing programme in the next 12 months.

Combine marketing pounds with influencer saturation (ranging from celebrity to a guy trying his luck taking selfies on the streets in London), there is now a tendency to spend on the smoke and mirrors of self-proclaimed influence.

The challenge is that every day the term influencer becomes more and more ubiquitous…contrived influence is blurring the lines of true influence.

To quiet all the noise it comes down to two things:

  1. The simplicity in the who – The individual
  2. The complexity in the why – The fan

The simplicity in the who is driven by authenticity (genuine trust), brand alignment (their essence aligns with brand essence) and amplification (are they talking to the people you want your brand talking to and on the right channels?).

The complexity is in the why. The uprising of influencer artificiality and today’s personal branding “look at me” mentality, is shifting brand focus on the influencer rather than the connection between the influencer and the consumer.

Brooklyn Beckham

Authenticity is the key. Whether Brooklyn Beckham fits the model is up to you

The end goal is always the connection because that’s what sells a product or service. Not just a stylish post with a branded hashtag, but rather the context to the connection. Does the consumer feel on the inside through this connection? Do they get the impression they are part of the experience?

In order to ensure the connection occurs, there must be data and analytics that connect the dots. There is a method to the madness and a science to the influencer. Data provides a road map for brands to make sure in a sea of wannabees, their influencers are the real deal.

So brands, don’t believe the hype. My friend didn’t identify himself as an influencer until a brand declared him one. Brands need to be careful not to be seduced by pretty pictures and followers and stay focused on the authentic connection as the key to success.

Finally, when someone identifies themselves as an influencer run…don’t walk. And while the influencer locomotive will continue to gain speed, make sure to keep your strategy on the tracks.

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Influencer Marketing Is A Locomotive With No Sign Of Slowing Down

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