Influencer Marketing in 2018
Influencer marketing is not something new to marketing, and in fact it has been around for a very long time, because a well-known spokesperson can exert a strong appeal over the masses of consumers who buy products and services. When a celebrity endorses a product, there is at least the potential for hordes of that celebrity’s followers to jump on the bandwagon and buy something, just because it’s being promoted by an admired figure.
While that was formerly more prevalent in television and radio marketing, the influencer strategy has now shifted to the social media, but the same principle holds true. Hiring a social media celebrity with his/her own legion of followers can provide you with a built-in audience for your company brand, and a ready-made target audience of potential buyers. There are however, some risks associated with the strategy as well, and the discussion below will identify some of the advantages and disadvantages of using influencer marketing strategy for 2018.
More and more people these days are bypassing television and simply tuning into their mobile devices for entertainment, and that means that TV ads are often falling on deaf ears, but social media influencers are still reaching millions of listeners. The manner of this engagement also appeals to consumers – they feel as though it’s a personal appeal, delivered just to them.
Your company can benefit enormously by something that’s known as the ‘halo effect’, i.e. the strong appeal and positive aura surrounding the influencer personally, is transferred to your company brand. This is so strong that many people are willing to buy products or at least buy into the pitch from a favorite celebrity just because they admire the person so much and want to copy his/her lifestyle habits, which of course involve using the products or services provided by your company.
The worst-case scenario with an influencer might be that the celebrity’s ‘edginess’ leads him/her to do something which blows up, in the manner of a scandal or some action perceived as highly negative. That negativity would instantly transfer to your brand and act in the reverse of what you had intended. In some cases, the roles can actually become reversed in this kind of arrangement too – your brand might become highly appealing, and you are inflating the reputation of the supposed influencer, in which case there’s much less benefit to your company.
Some social media influencers are regularly seeking such marketing opportunities, recognizing the financial opportunities to be made. That can cause them to exaggerate their number of followers, or to misrepresent their popularity in other ways to you. This is a subtle form of fraud, but if it turns out that your influencer doesn’t really carry much online influence, you’ll have nothing but a failed campaign to show for it – and a lesson learned.
Influencer campaigns can also go awry when followers of a celebrity recognize that a particular message is not exactly authentic. This can happen when you try to tightly script the message being distributed, or if it causes the influencer to depart too much from his/her normal online persona. However, if you remove those constraints and allow the influencer to be more spontaneous, that can also blow up in your face, if something uncomplimentary or socially taboo is expressed.
Risks and Rewards
From the above, it should be apparent that there are enormous rewards as well as risks associated with influencer marketing as a strategy for 2018. The truth is, it’s a pretty big gamble either way. Probably the best thing you can do to mitigate any risks is to personally get involved with your social media influencer, so you can gauge for yourself how helpful he/she can really be, and how likely it is that there could be an unfortunate mishap during your marketing campaign.
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