Over the last two decades, influencer marketing has gained a lot of momentum — so, let us understand what it is and how it works.
Prior to influencer marketing, brands used to spend their entire marketing budget on traditional media such as TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, etc.
With the advent of digital media, consumption on social networks became the norm.
As attention shifted from traditional media to digital media, brands started allocating a portion of their budget to digital media.
This includes social media marketing, paid advertising, website development and promotion, amongst others.
Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing since it takes place on social media.
Brands pay influencers to promote their product/service in the expectation that the influencer’s authority will help influence their target market.
Does it work?
Yes, and no.
It does help in reaching to a wider audience, no doubt.
But no-one really knows to what extent it helps in increasing sales, or brand affinity, and whether the brand really gets a positive RoI from their spend!
This is because influencers work in their own clusters with other influencers supporting each other in the form of likes, views, comments, shares, etc.
In today’s day and age, I could become an influencer overnight. Just pay a few thousand bucks to buy followers/likes/views/comments and show it to the brand.
If they’re not convinced, I’d post it in my engagement groups to get some traction.
If that also does not work, use bots and servers to fake it till I make it.
If that also does not work, I’d use paid advertising on post to reach more people.
And even if that does not work, we all have Photoshop to conveniently edit insights whenever we want.
Because of the negligible barrier to entry, influencers are cropping up left, right, and center. And no-one really knows who is fake, genuine, and have influence over others.
Therefore, it is really easy to game the system.
And in fact, all the stakeholders are already gaming each other — the influencers gaming PRs/agencies, the PRs/agencies gaming the brand managers, the brand managers gaming their CMOs, and their CMOs gaming their CEO, and their CEO gaming their board.
It’s all a silly little game.
There’s some truth to influencer marketing though.
And it’s the fact that desires are being created on social media.
Where do humans learn what to buy? What to wear? How to style? etc.
As always, we look up to each other for ideas and inspiration. We want what others have.
We copy what others do. And as such, we are influenced by the people in our environment.
Social media expands our environment to infinity! Sitting in a village in India, I could know what Anushka Sharma ate last night!
And so, when I go to shop for groceries, if I find the exact same thing that she ate last night, guess what am I going to buy?
That’s how desires are created. And currently it is being created on social media, rampantly.
This is the only real use case of Influencer Marketing.
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