Influencer marketing has been increasing in popularity year on year and has stapled itself as a firm favourite with communications professionals across the world. Brands of all sizes are now actively working with individuals on a whole range of products and experiences. And it isn’t exclusive to just celebrities boasting millions of followers, hyperlocal influencers are now being taken seriously with their smaller yet highly engaged audiences.
If you head over to Instagram, it’s now extremely common to come across hundreds of influencers working with global brands such as Daniel Wellington, H&M and Naked Juice to promote their products in an authentic and creative way.
Becoming an influencer is even proving to be a popular dream career path for all ages, especially millennials. It’s now an achievable goal to work with your favourite brand if you are determined enough to share your love of a specific hobby or you have a flair for photography. And it’s an attractive career – the flexibility and lifestyle perks are hard to ignore and of course, there are the freebies.
Unfortunately, due to the rise in popularity, it is becoming increasingly difficult to decide who you should use in your influencer campaign. The obsession with reaching ‘influencer’ status has swept throughout social media, with thousands of wannabe internet stars flocking to boost their follower count to bag free products. Some have even resorted to paying for fake followers to boost up their numbers, often resulting in a follower list full of ghost accounts (followers who don’t interact with any of their posts).
Alongside potentially damaging the reputation of influencer marketing, the rise in individuals paying for followers has brand giants questioning how genuine some influencers really are. Earlier this week, Unilever’s CMCO Keith Weed spoke out about the need for the ad industry and social media platforms such as Instagram to improve transparency and measurement of its influencer marketing. Weed, who is responsible for Unilever’s marketing and communications functions, has called for urgent action to rebuild the trust between influencer, brand and audience. Speaking about how to tackle the issue, he said:
“The key to improving the situation is three-fold: cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement; making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices; and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact. We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.”
As a result of all of this, Unilever has stated that they won’t work with influencers who buy followers, that their own brands will never buy followers and that the business will work with partners who increase their transparency.
Advertising transparency of any kind is always greatly welcomed but it’s unknown how or if the industry and social media will tackle this new issue. Influencers already have a responsibility to disclose their stats honestly, most of which are happy to do so, but what can we do in the meantime to ensure that we are using genuine influencers in our campaigns?
Here at O, we recognise that people buy from people, making influencers a great tool in a marketing strategy. We work with influencers with all sizes of followings across both national and regional campaigns, but we always ensure that we do our research so that we approach the right individual for the brand. Here are a couple of tips to ensure you are working with the best fit for your campaign.
The most important part about an influencer marketing campaign is the individual’s engagement with their audience. Do they interact with comments on their posts? Do they actively talk about or comment on other profiles? Conversations go a long way in proving that you are dealing with a genuinely interested influencer who is happy to communicate with their community.
Quality of Content
If you want an influencer to represent your brand, you should ensure that the content they are creating is something that you’d want to associate with the brand name. It doesn’t matter if the individual has 1000’s of followers, if the content quality is lacking it may not be a great fit for you.
Amount of followers vs posts and activity
With Unilever’s move to ensure they aren’t working with influencers who have paid for followers, it is best practice to ensure you don’t either. Have a look at the account’s follower numbers and how much they have posted. Have they only started their profile last month and already boast over 100,000 followers? Unless they are a celebrity, it’s very likely that those followers could have been bought which isn’t going to be great for ROI.
O is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle. If you’re looking for some help in kickstarting your own influencer marketing campaign, why not get in touch on email@example.com