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Influencer marketing – the good, the bad, and the influencer

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Forbes’ definition of an influencer is “someone who has the power to influence the perception of others or gets them to do something different”.

Influencer marketing is the fastest growing strand of the entire sector, but it is not a new phenomenon. Before the days where social media was king, celebrities were the first influencers. Think of a certain brand of perfume associated with Marilyn Monroe and you’ll see what we mean. Even today, celebrity endorsements carry with them a certain amount of weight – George Clooney and his coffee of ‘choice’, for example – but the niche of influencer marketing has taken over a platform all of its own in the era of social media.

With over one billion users and the fastest-growing network of influencers swarming all over our screens, Instagram is, by quite a distance, the most important influencer marketing channel. But what does a successful Instagram influencer campaign look like to a) the consumer and b) the client/brand, ensuring trust and credibility remain intact for both sides?

Case study – All Bar One’s #Brunchie campaign:

The national chain’s relaxed approach to bottomless brunch engaged with its audience in a huge way in 2017 through the marketing cocktail of sophisticated social media analytics mixed with a dash of clever influencer marketing execution.

Focusing its energy on the female, millennial demographic, the tactical choice of 10 foodie influencers posting a series of #Brunchie images on Instagram led to a 65 per cent spike in social media engagement and a 28 per cent increase in brunch sales, securing All Bar One’s position as a market leader for the consumer yet retaining its credibility through the trust in its influencer choices.

But influencer marketing isn’t all about poached eggs and smashed avocado behind a sleek Instagram filter. The rise and rise of social media has led ultimately to the inevitable pitfall of any marketing strategy – market saturation. Much like the world of PR and journalism, social media has given the world a platform to influence each other over what they should wear, eat, buy or give up, with follower numbers and engagement levels providing the seeming key to success.

It remains imperative though that, no matter what is being represented by influencer marketing, a relationship with the consumer based on trust and credibility is always upheld. Fake accounts, PR stunts and bad decisions can, at the touch of a button, completely break down the impact and would-be success of any given campaign.

Case study – Manchester City’s ‘fan-centric’ campaign:

English football’s current Premier League champions scored an unusual own goal through influencer marketing just weeks ago with an ill-advised and allegedly unsanctioned campaign which intended to promote the club’s experience in the UEFA Champions League.

A widespread appeal to Manchester City supporters aged between 18 and 55 urged social media users to post content at Champions League matches which represented the ‘electrifying atmosphere’ of the occasion. Unfortunately, the campaign backfired, highlighting instead the lack of interest in the supposedly exciting football matches and the club’s failure to sell tickets for these games – leading to multiple negative press stories and plenty of bad publicity for the club.

So, who really has the power to influence perception? As an agency, it’s vitally important you think tactically about your vision for an influencer marketing campaign. Consider your audience, your client, and your goals, and make smart choices based on those factors to execute an authentic, credible campaign approach.

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