Key Features of Influencer Marketing
by: Karissa Kuchtyn
- Throughout the years we have seen the process of influencer marketing becoming more present as social media has become more involved in our everyday lives. You may be asking who is an influencer? Well, the simplest definition is a person or thing who influences another. However, in marketing terms an influencer is a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. These influencers who do marketing for companies are usually paid in return for them exposing the company to their followers and sharing its products and services to them. Depending on how many followers the influencer has they usually get paid more. Sometimes if an influencer likes a company for what it just stands for by itself they will do marketing for it for free. But, to be an incentive and to hold influencers accountable, the companies usually offer to pay or give a sum of money in return. If they don’t give a sum of money upfront they may give the influencer a code that the audience or viewers can use. These codes usually have the influencers name or user name in them and helps save their viewers money. Then if the viewers use the code that the influencer shared they will recieve a portion of all sales that used the code as commission. Some popular influencers are the Kardashian/Jenners, Jake Paul, many sports players, Kayla Itsines, Shane Dawson, James Charles etc. Linked is a TED video where it talks about how influencers have changed marketing and the numbers that can be behind influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
-Influencer Marketing is a process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with customers about your brand, products or services. Influencer marketing uses key leaders that are usually very present on social media to drive a brand’s message to the larger market or their following. For example, when looking on your Instagram, Facebook or YouTube, you may see commercials or posts of a social media influencer promoting a product or brand. Usually, the bigger following this influencer has the more the brand pays them to promote the product they are trying to sell. Most of the time these posts will say that it is an ad in the video or have #ad on a picture post telling the public that they are most likely getting paid for it. Although influencing marketing seems straight forward and not harmful, it can run into problems.
Problems with Influencer Marketing
-Because most influencers get paid from the companies to market their product, not all their reviews may be truthful. Though we would like to believe that they only decided to market for a company because they love the product or service, its not always true. Some influencers do this just for the money, which really can cause problems later for customers, the influencers and the companies. This mainly happens when influencers receive a brand or ad deal where they don’t do research on the actual company before accepting it, don’t ask questions or the company is offering a huge sum of money, sometimes over 500,000 dollars, just for an influencer to make a post or make a dedicated YouTube video about their product. Some influencers can bounce back from these, but some get a lot of backlash for it and it can cause failures in their future lives and careers.
Failures in Influencer Marketing
- One of the biggest and most popular examples of Influencer Marketing was from behind the scenes of the infamous Fyre Festival. Fyre Festival was supposed to be a “luxury” music festival that was made and going to be held to promote an app called Fyre App in 2017. Fyre App was going to be an app for booking music and helping music creators find each other and connect. Billy McFarland was the CEO of the app and partnered with Ja-Rule to bring the Fyre Festival to light. The festival was supposed to feature acts like G.O.O.D Music, Major Lazer, Blink 182, Matoma, Migos, Lil Yachty and more. On top of some of the biggest and upcoming artists in that year, amazing acts isn’t all what Fyre Festival had. They also had beautiful famous models who were going to be there and who you could possibly hangout with every day. Not just that, but it was going to be taking place in Exuma, Bahamas. To promote this event, Billy and his team decided to use a lot of influencer marketing. They had influencers like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin (Bieber). This including the said influencers to post a blank orange photo to their Instagram timeline with captions of “#FyreFest is coming” and alike. This, was a very smart marketing strategy to do, considering consumers see thousands of ads a day, but this one is different than any other and immediately caught people’s attention. This started talk about Fyre Festival and from there bands would announce if they were going to be performing at the festival or not. In the end, this luxurious festival that people paid thousands for to go, ended up being just some tents pitched on dirt, not in Exuma with no performers. The food that they promised they would have for the attendees to eat was just bread with a slice of cheese on it and some of the tents weren’t even completed yet. Fyre Festival turned into being a huge scam and many celebrities’ reputations paid for them being in partnership and being influencer marketers with the festival and got extreme backlash for helping advertise it. As for Billy McFarland, he got jail time for fraud and probably will never be trusted in the business world ever again. Hulu and Netflix both have documentaries on the Fyre Festival if you want to know more in depth about it.
- Another failure of influencer marketing can be taken place a lot of time on YouTube. One that happened recently in the beauty community that caused a lot of riot was a makeup brush company called Kenza Cosmetics. Kenza sent out an email to influencers saying that they needed to get rid or sell the rest of their 2018 collection brushes and clear their inventory for the 2019 collection brushes that were coming in. If the influencers were willing to do this for the company, they would send them free brushes for themselves and pay the influencers large sums of money. These brush collections were listed as much as seventy-five dollars or more before and you could get them for completely free now that they collection was “out of date”, you would only have to pay for shipping. Big YouTube influencer stars Tana Mongeau and Gabby Hanna promoted for Kenza saying how amazing the brushes and company were. Since these two both have considerably large followings, and people believed them, a lot of their followers started purchasing these cosmetic brushes. Reality? Many people didn’t get their brushes until MONTHS later, and even more people didn’t even receive their brushes. When the brushes did come, they weren’t anything like what Tana and Gabby made videos on when promoting the products. What people got were brushes that were cheap and poorly made. Another thing people found out about Kenza Cosmetics is that most of the items on their website were products that you can find on a shopping app called Wish, that were being sold for less than a dollar for the exact same set of brushes. In conclusion Gabby and Tana just didn’t do any research about the company and just jumped at the opportunity to make some money instead of finding out what Kenza Cosmentics was about and researching it themselves before it was too late. Since then, both have received massive backlash, especially Gabby since she never apologized to her followers and didn’t take any responsibility for the situation at hand. A video that goes more into depth on this story is linked below.
Key Features in Influencer Marketing
-The key features in influencer marketing is to gain awareness on a product or brand in a positive light. That is then used to create buzz and as much awareness as possible. After buzz and awareness are implemented that is when sales are hopefully increased and continue to increase throughout that same buzz. Finding an influencer that has morals and beliefs aligned with the company is ideal because it is probably a product that the influencer will use and end up loving, showing their non-bias opinion and that will shine through to their viewers. Because viewers follow influencers who they have things in common with or can relate to, those viewers and audience will most likely purchase the product if it is recommended and keeps being recommended or they can tell the influencer is frequently using it. To get the viewers to want to buy the product though, they can’t just like the influencer. The influencer and brand must form an organic relationship that’s not just based on selling. If the influencer is treated with respect, they will want to advocate for the company even when they aren’t getting paid, but because they genuinely like the brand and their product or service. It is important to choose that first specific influencer that has the morals that align with the brand because that’s where they will most likely be able to find their target market Target market is the specific audience that your product or service is aimed to help or sell to. This is very important, because if you know what your target market is, then you will be able to find your life time value. Life Time Value or LTV is an estimate of the average revenue that a customer will generate throughout their lifespan as a customer. This ‘worth’ of a customer can help determine many economic decisions for a company including marketing budget, resources, profitability and forecasting and how to designate what they put into all those different areas of their business. The higher that a company’s life time value is, the more the company has control over these things and is not only just an advantage for the company, but it gives them a competitive advantage over companies that are similar or selling the same kind of items. You can find this because through social media and using these influencers own links or codes they can give to their viewers to use so the companies can find their clicks per acquisition with that influencer. Clicks per acquisition is also known as CPA or, cost per action, pay per acquisition and cost per conversion. This is an online advertising pricing model where the advertiser pays for a specified acquisition in the form of, but not limited to a sale, click or for submit.
-Although there are many failed stories that have happened in Influencer Marketing, there’s success stories as well.
Success in Influencer Marketing
- An example of successful influencer marketing that worked is for a company called Audible. Audible is a company owned by Amazon and it has the worlds largest selection of audiobooks and original ad-free audio shows. Audible has had many influencers market for them throughout the years. There is an influencer named Kendall Rae who does many ads for them, but what makes her ads or marketing for this company different from others who market for them is that she is dyslexic. Because Kendall talks about her struggles growing up and how hard it was for her to read and how audible has helped her so much in finishing books it gives other kids or adults who may also suffer from this another option on how to finish a book and not get frustrated with it. Audible is something that Kendall not only loves but helps her be able to have the luxury of listening to books she may have had a very hard time reading. The pairing of these two works perfectly and helps Kendall tell her story and help people learn about Audible and Audible can give them that service.
How do Influencer Marketing Ad’s Compare to Regular Posts?
-While also looking at the success rates of Influencer Marketing we must see how people react and how much attention it gets. I looked at an influencer’s Instagram to see the difference between her regular posts and her ad posts to see if there was a difference in the amount of likes or comments. Missremiashten, better known as Remi Cruz, has 1.1 million followers on her everyday life Instagram. Remi has been an influencer for companies like Revolve clothing, Nike, Boohoo, Venus and more. On most of her Instagram’s with the caption #ad she receives an average of 70,000 likes, while on her regular posts she gets about 120,000, give or take 30,000 depending on the picture or probably the time of day she uploads, but those are all personal photos. With #ads photos, influencers usually time it during a good time of the day because that means more traffic, more traction, more money for themselves and the company they are helping market for. So, even though some of her personal photos have long captions, that a lot of people probably skip by, and her #ad posts have smaller to the point captions, they still get less likes. This is because when people see a post that looks like an ad or has #ad they lose the personal connection and feel like people are only using them for money. Which is why influencers need to make things personal and show how it has helped them to sell the items or company they are marketing on their pages, like how Kendall Rae did with Audible.
What is the Future of Influencer Marketing?
-I think Influencer Marketing is going to be more prevalent in the future. This is because it doesn’t take as much these days to get a large following, it is becoming less and less rare to be “Instagram famous”. Before we know it a lot of our time lines are going to have sponsored posts or people who we follow doing ads all the time, most of us probably don’t realize that this is already happening. To demonstrate this, I just went on my Instagram and timed myself for one minute while scrolling through my feed, not the popular feed page or under any hashtag, just my regular feed. Within that minute I saw eight “sponsored” posts. I knew that I saw sponsored posts on my feed, but I never even realized how many I saw. However, only 3 of these were influencer sponsored posts with the hashtag #ad. Meaning that about 2.7% of sponsored posts we see are influencer based rather than the companies themselves doing online marketing. These company social media marketing posts normally don’t even get a portion of the amount of likes that influencer posts get and that’s why I believe that influencer posts will continue to grow in the future and end up replacing the sponsored posts.
-In the end, even though the sponsored posts are probably seen by more people in the long run, by using geofencing or even by using an algorithm to give you sponsored posts from companies that are alike the ones you follow. However, influencer marketing posts get more traction and are most likely going to grow in the future because of their personable touches on the audience and viewers.