Buy or Sell: Influencers, are they right for your campaign?
Hart Editorial Staff
The pandemic has created an uptick in social media activity, with 32% of polled social users in the United States reporting an increase in their social media activity. This added activity and attention have put pressure on brands to deliver value to followers. With the need for brand authenticity and the rise in socially conscious spending, brands are trusting the guidance of influencers for their products. In fact, 63% of consumers trust influencer opinions more than testimony from the brand itself and 58% of consumers have purchased products because of an influencer's recommendation.
Influencer marketing is not a trend; rather, a sign of a greater shift in the priorities of consumers and the direction of marketing campaigns. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, this market is expected to grow in size from $9.7 billion in 2020 to $13.8 billion in 2021.
Ideally, the use of an influencer should be symbiotic for companies and consumers. The companies create brand awareness and extend their reach while consumers gain trustworthy and knowledgeable information about a service or product. Utilizing an influencer research tool like Upfluence can identify the saturation of influencers (i.e., how many other brands are actively linked with that individual), as well as other factors like message/imagery engagement.
When assessing successful marketing, the strategies associated with influencer relations and activations cannot be ignored. Recently, Hart Copywriter, Social Media & Content, Caeli Barnes moderated a sit-down with Associate Creative Director Jeff Payden, Senior Account Executive JoAnna Sorosiak and Senior Strategist Sam Williams to discuss and gain perspective into the world of influencers and their role in advertising.
DO YOU BUY OR SELL WITH THEM?Buy or Sell: Influencers drive emotional connotations toward brands.
Jeff: BUY. I get the feeling that Gen Z and millennials follow influencers for the content they create. They're looking for someone who is authentic, who they can relate to. I think there are real people out there you can connect with who are experts in their field, thought leaders or people with a certain level of expertise. On the other hand, I also think there are people out there who don't have that level of expertise and aren't really known for anything in particular, but who are just popular. In that regard, the aspect of influencers can lose credibility.
JoAnna: BUY. I feel everyone wants to be an influencer these days. Being a millennial myself, I follow quite a few influencers based on my interests. For example, I follow the Tik Tok creator @celinaspookyboo for her personality and wholesome, quirky content. I feel like we could be friends in real life. But because everyone wants to be an influencer, finding credibility is becoming increasingly difficult.
Sam: As far as buy or sell, it's BOTH. My initial gut reaction to influencers as a marketing tactic, as a Gen Xer and someone who is skeptical of this world, is no thank you. However, there is a generational attitude difference toward marketing regarding what we accept and what we don't. The influencer aspect needs to be authentic and accountable as to why that person makes sense for that category. When you look at the younger generation, you see influencers working well because they aren't celebrities. I think there is a difference when you choose an influencer who’s a celebrity versus an influencer who is grassroots. On the grassroots level, you see more success because that person has typically earned their position in a niche.
Buy or Sell: An influencer’s personal qualities directly impact their connection potential.
Jeff: BUY. First, I think they need to have some sort of relationship or connection to a particular industry. You can't just use someone because of their popularity at the time. The influencer needs to be somehow aligned with an industry that makes sense. I think they need to come across as being knowledgeable or an expert on what they're talking about.
JoAnna: BUY. I think relatability is one of those qualities. I look for influencers who are down to earth, and I'm not terrified to comment on their posts. Some influencers I follow actually message me back if I DM them a question, so availability is also important.
Sam: BUY. I agree with both Jeff and JoAnna. From a relatability or credibility standpoint, these people must be obtainable. If Oprah endorses something that's great, but she lives in a reality that I don't. I think closeness to home is important. If you look at the program McDonald's did with Travis Scott, it was wildly successful as a partnership. That’s because that story was authentic to who Travis is and his backstory, and he's not this top-level celebrity. This leads to the next piece of accountability. People are going to look at a celebrity claiming to use Charmin Toilet Paper and question the validity.
Clockwise from upper left: Hart ACD Jeff Payden, Moderator Caeli Barnes, Sr. AE JoAnna Sorosiak, and Sr. Strategist Sam Williams
Buy or Sell: I stay away from or am drawn to a company or product because of an influencer.
JoAnna: BOTH. Buy and sell. I have been drawn in and I have been turned off. It depends on all of the things we just talked about. Do you feel connected to the person? Do you feel they have credibility? Does the connection to the company make sense?
Sam: It's BUY AND SELL. You've got to be careful. There are some fitness folks on Instagram and I have bought products because they use them and can talk about them in a personal way. I have definitely walked away from brands because of who they associate themselves with or who they donate money to.
Jeff: I would align myself with a lot of what Sam and JoAnna have said. It really comes down to accountability, credibility and what that level of trust is. If these companies were to influence me into taking an action or purchasing a product, I would have to see a definite level of trust and authenticity.
With a rise in influencer marketing, consumers have demonstrated that trust and authenticity are the driving forces behind their purchases. The unsuccessful 2017 Kendall Jenner Pepsi collaboration revealed that disingenuous promotions can drive away consumers, oftentimes into the arms of competitors. Influencer marketing is about using the knowledge and expertise of a normal individual to help build trust around a brand.
An influencer study is a natural way to assess key influencer engagement, as well as their saturation rates relating to authenticity. To get started with a complimentary influencer study, or for a second opinion on your current influencer marketing efforts, reach out to us at directly.