The communication environment for businesses has significantly changed with the emergence and growing popularity of social networking sites. Scrolling through our timelines today we are bombarded with popular influencers promoting products through brand sponsorships. From weight loss teas to teeth whitening kits, these brand partnerships are hard to avoid and are a powerful marketing strategy that many companies are capitalising on. These well-known users sharing their experiences and opinions have become a trusted source of information for consumers “with 74% of individuals relying on social media to influence their purchasing decisions” (Bennett, 2014), therefore leading to a decrease in traditional advertising. These developments have forced advertising industries to adapt and rethink
traditional marketing strategies in order to effectively reach consumers, thus the development of influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is designed to tap into an existing community of engaged followers throughout social media. Influencers are specialists in their niches. Due to their influence over audiences they look to help brands/companies reach further engagement in exchange for profit/ promotion. This marketing practice is based on influence theory, which advocates the idea that a small percentage of key individuals can be effective at persuading a great amount of others. Rather than marketing towards a large group of consumers, influencer marketing uses these individuals to drive a brand’s message to the larger market and influence buying decisions. Marketing was originally focused on “offline opinion leaders, like journalists or industry analysts, to gain positive coverage” (Brown & Hayes, 2008). Companies target selected journalist, giving them access to information, their spokespeople and company events with the goal of building a long lasting relationship and facilitate positive coverage. With the digitalisations and shift of businesses, the focus of marketing has shifted from offline to online opinion leaders, as they offer a wider reach via their social networks. As we know by looking at our own social platforms today, digital influencers can be bloggers, celebrities or other individuals which are followed by a large amount of people online, taking place on personal blogs, commercial websites and the most popular Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.
A modern influencer marketing practice is to send free products to an influencer, hoping that they will use and like it and decide to recommend it to their followers. Other times, companies pay online influencers to promote their product and post about it. However, what inspired my interest in this topic was the immense trust consumers hold in opinions posted by others online, with these individuals thoughts and recommendations being looked at over established brands and companies. In their paper ‘Consumer Attitudes Toward Blogger’s Sponsored Recommendations and Purchase Intention: The effect of Sponsorship Type, Product type, and Brand Awareness’ Lu and Chang state “The growing popularity and large user numbers of social networking sites also had a great impact on consumers purchasing decisions. Today, consumers rely more than ever on recommendations from their peers” (2014). It made me think, how does the everyday person know what post’s to trust and what are the signs off unethically promotion?
For this session I have decided I am going to develop a research/ information based blog on Influencer Marketing for social users to gage further understandings of the operations behind this field. With this I look to post about the methods these individuals use as well as how these strategies are implemented to attract us into buying products. I look to use my research behind this topic to enlighten readers on how this form of marketing has both positive and negative attributes.
Future post topics I look to discuss:
- What makes an Influencer?
- Research on Influencer Marketing? What makes it more effect over others?
- The Power of Social Media
- Examples of Positive Influencers and Campaigns
- Examples of Negative Influencers and Campaigns
- Testing Analytics on Instagram- Are these suggested products something I would actually purchase? Are they correctly catered towards my likes?
- Tips on avoiding inauthentic sponsored posts
- Survey- Asking students questions on if they have purchased items recommended by an influencer and why?
- Podcast Interview with an Influencer? What is it like? How do you remain genuine?
I decided to choose WordPress to host my work as the content is communicated directly to readers and is most common amongst young people. Many of us already use the site and are the majority of the targeted market for these campaigns/ promotional posts. With this blog my aim is to highlight what factors contribute to unethical forms of Influencer Marketing, enlightening readers on how they can avoid campaigns that feed false information.
- Brown, D., & Hayes, N. (2008). Influencer Marketing: Who really influences your Customers?. London, :Routledge.
- Lu, L. C., Chang, W. P., & Chang, H. H. (2014). Consumer attitudes toward blogger’s sponsored recommendations and purchase intention: The effect of sponsorship type, product type, and brand awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 34, 258-266