Brands today struggle to of target their customers. This widespread panic, known in the corporate world as digital disruption has left those in the industry looking to different channels for solutions and one such solution is the social media influencer. The influencer is an online celebrity that marketers target to sell products. They usually occupy a unique niche, or present well-known information in an interesting, or engaging way.
Many in the industry see influencer marketing as the holy gospel of this ‘digital disruption epidemic. In my opinion, I still think using influencers to market products puts traditional brands in an extremely weak position. In this short piece, I will explain why.
Staying On Brand
The key difficulty with influencer marketing is the difficulty staying on brand. Traditionally, advertising agencies develop a brand concept through their creative teams and then integrate in different forms of content — radio ads, tv ads etc. The brand has a core message and they ensure that this message is borne out through different forms of media.
Today, the difficulty today is that marketers are developing a product strategy to distribute on a channel that already has a specific brand message. Sometimes they are at odds with each other. The influencers will project his/her viewpoints, his likes and dislikes in the channel and consumers ‘follow’ them on social media based on these views. The marketing team has to be very strategic about creating a brand message that is not just congruent with an influencer’s channel, yet this is impossible because the marketing campaign will inevitable clash some influencer’s views, or seem incongruent to the viewer.
Take the example of Rob Lipsett, an Irish gym enthusiast who posts various forms of content on facebook, instagram and snapchat. I am not a a serious gym goer, still I am impressed by Rob’s genuiness and work ethic. You always get the impression Rob is the ‘real deal’, just a gym-fanatic who wanted to make a career out of it. Rob Lipsett’s has a specific brand message in my view as well. The message on his is something like ‘I am enjoying the ride, building my audience as a youtuber, join me.
What I find frustrating then as a ‘consumer’ or ‘layman’ is when there are sponsored posts on his page, which Lynx had paid with a completely different message. In this campaign, their message is “there is no such things as the typical guy anymore “ — masculinity is taking different forms now, there is no right option. I find this absolutely ridiculous because in my view, Rob Lipsett very much is the typical guy and that it is why he is very likeable. He is the typical guy going ot the gym and that is his charm.
The one advantage influencers have on instagram or youtube, is their ‘genuiness’. I would even argue it is their primary asset. Influencer marketing campaigns like this Lynx one which are not just ingenuine and thoughtless, but that is also entirely out of sync with the influencer’s core message, is not going to succeed on the long run with consumers. I believe influencers will begin to realise that by selling their own products, they can fully leverage this asset and that this could really affect traditional brands.
But let’s keep it optimistic. I think the more advanced strategies for influencer marketing will emerge in the coming years. It may become possible to use large data-sets to identify an influencer’s brand values and create a message that is unique to the channel, while not compromising on an agency’s brand strategy. Until then, we should probably worship at the alter of other marketing strategies to save us from ‘digital disruption’.