By Annabel Thomas
With most of us spending increasing amounts of time online during the last year, it is no surprise that investment in influencer marketing has skyrocketed. The influencer market is highly saturated with 1000s of bloggers, Instagrammers and celebrities taking to selling products via social media. In fact, research shows a huge 8 out of 10 consumers have purchased a product after seeing it advertised by an influencer! However, as the influencer marketing industry increases, so does consumer expectations. They are seeking authentic and transparent advertising from influencers and value those who can be trusted. 90% of marketers say there is a need to improve authenticity in influencer marketing for it to survive long term.
Over the last few years, there has been a heightened awareness of how social media and influencer marketing impacts mental health. Coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic and social movements such as Black Lives Matter, the digital landscape is changing. The public now expects much more transparency and authenticity when it comes to brands and their products. They want ethical supply chains and companies that stand up for injustices and treat their employees fairly.
This shift has meant the days of influencers trying to sell us detox tea and teeth whitening products are gone. Along with cancel culture and the heightened desire for ethical and sustainable products, influencers can’t get away with trying to sell low quality products to their followers anymore. So what does this mean for the industry? Well, influencer marketing is still a hugely valuable marketing tool and if done properly can bring a huge ROI. But it needs to be done in a way that reflects the social responsibility of businesses, celebrates openness and fosters meaningful connections between brands, influencers and consumers.
The most important part of the influencer marketing puzzle is finding the right people to promote your brand. The influencer industry is highly saturated, and it can be difficult to build a strong reputation with the right influencer. ‘Micro’ influencers, with between 1000 – 100,000 followers are a great choice. These smaller influencers don’t have millions of followers, but they are able to build a highly personal relationship with the ones they do have.
Micro influencer’s posts have a 2.2x higher engagement rate than macro influencers, meaning that whilst they have a smaller reach, their followers are more likely to engage with, trust and view their content. Not to mention micro influencers tend to have a niche following. For example, you may find a micro influencer who focuses their content on skincare products, a specific sport or hobby such as baking. If your products align with their content and values, you will likely share a similar audience demographic with them, creating a perfect brand match.
The role of social media and mental health is something brands can not ignore in 2021. Brands need to address social issues and topics that they once shied away from – this type of transparency is now expected by most consumers. Whilst social change will take a while to trickle down to the influencer landscape, we have seen some positive change in the way body image and ethnic minorities are reflected in influencer advertising.
For example, TALA, a sustainable fitness brand, is an amazing example of inclusivity and body positivity. They make sure they represent a diverse range of consumers in their advertising, from their models to influencers, they have normalised everyday and real body types. They don’t assume what their core customer looks like, they make sure they represent a range of people.
The UK government has introduced numerous regulations and guidelines when it comes to influencer marketing. The main one being consumers need to be aware of when they are seeing a post in which an influencer has been paid to endorse a product or service, including when they have been given a product for free. Read through the government guidelines and make sure you get a full understanding of how influencer marketing needs to be carried out.
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