Kylie Jenner. Andrea Russett. Mr. Pokee. What do these names have in common? One word: influencer. If you’ve hung around social media or the digital marketing world long enough, you’ve likely heard of influencers and the rising phenomenon of influencer marketing. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or another social platform, influencers are individuals that have amassed a reputable following of dedicated fans—and many of these individuals aren’t even celebrity-famous!
Because of the large following that most influencers have amassed in their respective platforms, influencer marketing has become an attractive method for marketers to reach their overall objectives. Some of the ways influencer marketing can help a brand includes increasing brand reach and promoting relevant products/services to a niche audience.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing isn’t slowing down anytime soon and is predicted to reach $13.8 billion in 2021. With so many benefits attributed to influencer marketing, you may be wondering whether it’s the right marketing tactic to utilize in your digital strategy. However, while there are plenty of benefits to influencer marketing, there’s also an equal number of disadvantages.
Before you start incorporating influencers into your digital strategy, here are some pros and cons that can come with this tactic.
Benefits of using influencers
Influencer marketing has a variety of benefits that can propel a brand and its products/services to success. If there is anything influencers are good at, it’s ensuring that sponsored products and services are presented to their audiences within their respective platforms. A few of the key benefits of influencer marketing include:
- Consumer trust and loyalty towards the influencer. While this may not sound like a huge benefit at first glance, having an influencer that has built strong relationships with their audience can help you achieve your objectives in the long run. According to a consumer trust report from Nielson, as many as “92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” For many consumers, influencers may present themselves as regular, relatable people or as reputable experts in a niche, which builds trust and loyalty. As such, consumers are more likely to be interested in a product or service if an influencer promotes it on their page.
- Increase in brand awareness among potential consumers. Many influencers like Kylie Jenner and Pokee have at least a million followers on social platforms like Instagram (if not, more). Even smaller influencers can have as many as 1,000 followers, which can be a gold mine if your objective is to increase brand awareness. Some brands establish partnerships with specific influencers so that they’re featured on their social media pages. These alliances benefit both parties as the influencer may receive discounts or free products while promoting a brand.
- You may work with an actual expert within your brand’s industry. One of the best parts about influencer marketing is that there are many influencers within a respective field. For instance, if your client’s company is a pet store, countless cute and famous animals with big followings are on Instagram—some of which can be a part of your marketing strategy, as seen on Social Bakers. From lifestyle to technology, there are various influencers to choose from that can count as experts in their field. Now, a crucial part of influencer marketing is picking the right fit for your brand or industry. According to a blog post by Pixlee, there are five specific types to brand influencers with each containing advantages and disadvantages. You’ll need to consider your marketing objectives to make informed decisions on the best influencer for your brand. If you’re struggling to find the right influencer that fits your brand’s personality and message, there are numerous influencer marketing platforms that can help! For example, dog influencer platforms like Dogfluence help pet-related brands and top dog influencers connect with each other, making the process of searching for an influencer a less stressful one.
Disadvantages of using influencers
Like other marketing tactics, influencer marketing also has its downsides. There are plenty of risks when you use influencers in your strategy, and any PR or legal disasters can have a lasting impact on you or your client’s brand. Some of the key disadvantages to influencer marketing include:
- Legal problems with the FTC. To protect consumers from fraudulent advertising, The FTC (also known as the Federal Trade Commission) has set guidelines and rules that dictate how an influencer must promote any paid partnerships with brands. According to their Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers brochure, influencers must disclose “material connection(s)” to a brand, especially if they’re receiving payment or free products as part of their endorsement. If an influencer fails to comply with these regulations, you can end up in serious trouble with legal charges along with a bad reputation among consumers.
- Influencers can attract controversy. You may have heard of the phrase, “there’s no such thing as bad press”—or some variation of it. Unfortunately, that’s not a motto that can be applied in the influencer world. Think of fitness influencer, Brittany Dawn, who received backlash in 2019 after scamming her followers. According to an article from Insider, this influencer promised customized fitness programs to her followers, did not keep up her end of the bargain, and only provided partial refunds. Other famous influencers like Rachel Hollis and James Charles have also attracted tons of backlash in the last few months. Controversy in any form isn’t an attractive marketing or sales point that can benefit your marketing goals in the long run.
- Influencers can be expensive. Influencers tend to be divided into different categories based on the number of followers they have on their social pages. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, influencers fall under 5 categories with nano-influencers being the lowest (under 10,000 followers) and mega-influencers being the highest (over a million followers). Influencer Marketing Hub also reports that depending on the platform, demand, and follower counts, influencers can charge anywhere between $100 to $10,000 per post. You may not be willing to risk the expenses and controversies that can follow an influencer throughout their career.
Should you incorporate influencer marketing into your digital strategy? Ultimately, it is all up to you. Having influencers on your side can bring many advantages to you or your client’s brand but it can also be destructive when a mistake happens. You need to consider whether it’s worth the potential risks or decide on an alternative marketing tactic that can help you accomplish your objectives. If you decide to use influencer marketing, make sure that the influencer you pick is the right fit for you and your brand. What consumers want the most is authenticity, and if you can give them that, you will be able to connect and reach them successfully.
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