Influencer Marketing: What reaching an online audience really means
When it comes to campaign strategy, all roads eventually lead to one question: Do I need to pay a TikToker to promote my brand like everyone keeps saying? With mounting pressure to find space on tight budgets for influencer marketing, it can be increasingly difficult to gauge what you gain from this endeavour. More than this, it’s difficult to know if you’ll even get your brand across in the way you want, lest you live the nightmare of trying to be ‘down with the kids.’
The good news is that there is a myriad of different avenues to consider. Modern influencing is certainly not one size fits all. The main deciding factor is in understanding what people expect from influencer content and how best to speak directly to their audience by pre-empting those expectations.
In terms of employer branding, the through-line of influencer marketing to Gen Z is one to one. 78% of time on social media is spent watching influencers and most users are active job seekers. Influencers are seen as sources of impartial and invested opinions whose endorsement could bring in the right candidate at a crucial point in their decision-making.
Users still see influencers as educational resources, which explains why user generated content gains more engagement than product-led content. Positioning yourself as part of this interchange only works to streamline your target audience to where you want them and displays a caring approach because of your engagement in ongoing community discussions.
Another unique complication is the moral imperatives that emerge when influencers gain a large following. It’s increasingly common for followers to demand creators ‘use their platform’ to speak on geopolitical and social issues. They can be accused of remaining apathetic if they don’t comment and considered preachy if they do.
For example, Francis Bourgeoise was a creator who garnered 3.1 million followers through videos celebrating his love of vintage trains. Across many demographics, he became the epitome of wholesome content but began to receive blowback because of his lack of support for ongoing rail strikes in the UK.
This came to a head when he created a sponsored video with Prince William and Kate Middleton, which for a subsection of his followers was completely beyond the pale. Even an established and well-known creator was subject to immense criticism and lost years of good faith basically overnight. Brand collaborative posts, particular long-term partnerships, can undermine their integrity if the partnership doesn’t make sense to their followers.
All of this is to say that brand partnerships pose as much reputational risks for creators as they do for brands. Recognising this helps to codify the purpose of this type of marketing and establishes early in the process whether this type of venture is suited to your campaign. It shows you’ve taken the time to recognise how much their output gels with your own brand voice and trust their content creation.
The importance of authenticity can’t be overstated with 83% of consumers relying on it as a deciding factor when choosing who they want to buy from. Giving the influencers full reign of how they execute the endorsement has been proven to pay dividends. A more cheery example is the how the comedians Freya Mallard and Davina Bentley promoted Philadelphia UK by incorporating quite deftly into a sketch in the style their audiences recognised. The product was still front and centre but in a way that wasn’t off-putting or diluted the focus of their pages. This worked out to the amount of 3.8 million views.
When considering influencer marketing for your campaigns, it’s easy to minimise what they’re offering you. On the one hand, it should be as simple as promoting your product or scheme but on the other, your brand is wading into a relationship that runs deeper than content creation. Coming to creators on the level, with an understanding of the nuances of what they provide can only gear you up for both a productive collaborative relationship and the necessary fine tooth combing any good marketing should engage in.