Unflitered: The Truth about Influencer Marketing

Leah Mahon, MSc Digital Marketing Management student


Influencer Marketing (IM) is the latest marketing trend to take the digital plethora by storm – one like and re-post at a time. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, IM combines the use of old and new marketing strategies, and turning it into modernised content fuelled marketing campaigns through collaborations between brands and “influencers” who set up their own social media pages and create their followings.

For businesses – big and small – it is worth getting to the know the person behind the filter before letting them influence which directions your business goes down. Here are a few things to keep in mind…

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines came into full force after numerous followers of popular YouTube and Instagram accounts were collaborating with brands and not making aware that they were receiving a profit in return from their content. To ensure transparency among the audience you’re trying to reach through your Influencer, clarifying that a simple #ad or #sponsorship can save them and your business some major thumbs down.

Beauty Vlogger Zoella

Clear communication is key between your business and the influencer you choose to work with. Popular beauty vlogger, Zoella, faced backlash from her fans and their parents last year after her collaboration with Boots and her 12-day advent calendar, containing a bauble and cookie cutter, saw it priced at £50.00 – putting her good girl next door image a risk. She stated, however, that the final cost of the product was not her decision, and given the many loopholes it takes for a product to make it on shelves whom has the final say is usually obvious. However, businesses need to remember that every detail from the price to the packaging will affect the message sending out to their new audience in some way – and ultimately both parties pay the price.

Oprah’s contradictory Tweet

The Influencer has to believe in the brand and the product or service it is promoting. Microsoft collaborated with world-wide influencer, Oprah Winfrey to endorse their new Microsoft Surface tablet. Social Media Today describes how Oprah sought out Twitter to promote the new technology – only to do so via her iPad, one of the product’s direct competitors. Despite her global influence, not even she could increase sales if her influence doesn’t even believe in the product itself. It’s important for businesses not to collaborate just for the number of likes and followers, but what the Influencer believes in too. Right down to what tech they like to send their Tweets and DMs off.

At the heart of this new industry trend is authenticity amongst the audience that follows. In a time when filtered photos begin to look just like that, picking an Influencer that is transparent with their following from the start and for you to harness their honesty well, can be the deciding factor for a like or dislike.

How Influencer Marketing Could Benefit Your Business

Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the market. Rather than marketing directly to this large group, you instead hire or pay these influencers to inspire and get the word out for you.

According to McKinsey, Influencer Marketing generates double the sales of paid advertising, as well as three times the amount of “word of mouth” messages. Furthermore, it results in recommendations – where people are up to fifty times more likely to purchase.

Influencer marketing could benefit your business in a number of ways, and you should consider using it because:

  • It’s more authentic than an advert.
  • It’s more cost effective than many other marketing channels.
  • It provides shareable content, which could amplify results exponentially.
  • You can effectively target a new audience.
  • It’s a way to create real-time engagement.
  • It’s an easy way to build trust with your customers and future customers.

Two cases come to mind where Influencer marketing benefited the business and the influencer, such as Youtube star PewDiePie teaming up with the makers of horror film ‘As Above, So Below’ – creating a number of videos in which he completed challenges and tasks set in the catacombs in which the film was set. This resonated with his then 27 Million subscribers, and received nearly double the views that the trailer for the film did.

The other, according to Neoreach, is American retail giant Walmart teaming up with former Vine star Meghan McCarthy. Meghan posted on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, putting her stamp of approval on the promotion that she was promoting. Her posts gathered hundreds of follow up posts and tweets, an impact that no television ad campaign could make.

The Big Influencers for 2018

According to Forbes, some of the top influencers of 2017 are going to be even bigger in 2018. 

If the budget is there, then these are the kind of people that you want influencing customers to buy into your product or brand.

These include gaming maestro Markiplier, Keynote speaker and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, cooking whiz Rosanna Pansino, six-year-old Ryan ToysReview and powerful lady Lilly Singh.

Whilst all of these people have the majority of their following on YouTube, they are also influencers on the likes of Instagram and Facebook and could cost a hefty sum.

Some of these people may be out of your price range, but if you can find a local influencer to promote your product, then that may be worthwhile to your business.

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Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Management Student (Full Time)