Getting Too Big for their Gucci Boots… Is Influencer Marketing Still “On Point”?

Jake Setterfield – Account Manager

Influencer marketing, loosely described as a form of digital marketing that brands adopt to identify, target and form partnerships with those with online influence, has experienced rapid growth in popularity over the past couple of years.

It is the practice of getting people who are popular on social networks (particularly Instagram) to talk candidly about a brand’s product (such as a pair of free Gucci boots) in a hope their amassed audiences would buy it.

And it’s big business, with 400 million active daily users alone on Instagram, their potential audience shouldn’t be sniffed at…

It’s certainly filled a gap for digital marketeers online too, where people are now moving away from “click-bait” content and banner ads. In-fact, it’s estimated audiences are far more likely to win the lottery than click a banner ad! Whilst this is possibly a little exaggerated, it just goes to show the gap influencer marketing has filled online.

However, consumers are also becoming ever savvier to the tricks of the trade, and apparently there is such a thing as being too popular. Research last year by Markerly found a ‘sweet spot’ brands should look for when it comes to influencers’ clout and how bigger isn’t always better…

They found follower numbers of influencers on Instagram should be between 10k and 100k. Any smaller than this, and your product won’t make a splash, but any bigger, and engagement drops off. Mega social celebs with over 10 million followers had a like rate of 1.7% compared to 2.4% of those with 10-100k followers.

For example, if a DIY brand partnered with a celebrity in that field, they would reach a huge audience, but a lot of them wouldn’t be interested in the subject. Instead, it would be better to spread the content across a number of smaller influencers that have followers engaged in that topic.

The high level of trust between these influencers and their audiences is really making the trend live up to the hype. Rather than brands scattering their message to a wide consumer audience, the targeted approach of influencer engagement really does help them achieve the marketing dream of true consumer engagement.

This is made all the more pertinent when influencers are selective about their affiliations, placing their fans’ trust for what they endorse above the commercial partnership with the brand. This is where the distinction between celebrities and influencers comes into play. Whereas celebs can spread a message widely across the population based on how likeable they are, we should be more concerned with the interests of the influencer’s audience and their affiliation to the influencer’s “brand”.

However, a recent study by marketeer Nik Speller found the extent to which some influencers are using “bots” to over-inflate their clout. These bots will interact with their social channels automatically liking, commenting and following people, thereby over-exaggerating their influence.

He finds this so called “Instagram fraud” has become really quite prolific, resulting in the misrepresentation of influencers’ popularity so they can mislead brands to command more profitable partnerships.

For cautious brands, it ultimately comes down to engagement and story telling. Don’t just go for big follower numbers when looking for influencers. Micro-influencers can tell a meaningful story to their engaged audiences at a fraction of the cost for what you’d pay for a mega celeb. Brands need to work with the right influencers with the right audiences, telling the right stories.

However, perhaps more interestingly, Instagram does very little to call out this phenomenon as an issue. This artificial engagement is still just that, engagement… regardless of how genuine it is. This is what Instagram uses to justify and command its advertising fees, so the more engagement, the bigger the market value and ultimately ad revenue.

Just goes to show that their shoes might not be big enough to fill those free Gucci boots after all….

Whilst the examples above quite evidently apply mainly to consumer clients, corporate clients should also take note too. Our client Vantage Motor Group recently worked with Instagram influencer Em Talks around London Fashion Week, letting her test drive a brand new Toyota to travel in style to the show. 

With over 70k followers on Instagram and nearly 30k on Twitter, the activity promoted the release of Toyota’s brand-new C-HR. The content was engaging and relevant to her audience who are dedicated followers. If they had gone for an influencer with an inflated follower number, the engagement wouldn’t have been as impressive.

If you need advice or support with digital marketing, get in touch with info@acceleris-mc.com

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