It is no secret that social media influencers have become important figures in our communities. With sometimes millions of eyes on their daily posts, influencers have the power to push trends, create change, and strengthen brands. Utilising influencers as a marketing tool has become an established and effective form of online marketing. Like so many things in the last year, the consumer relationship with the influencer has been reshaped since the global pandemic. As more influencers addressed social justice and political issues in 2020 on their platforms, the expectations of authenticity and honesty have grown between influencer and audience.
What Is an Influencer?
The title of influencer is sometimes ambiguous and often confused or lumped into the title of celebrity, though there are distinctions between the two. Often an influencer isn’t considered famous or even recognisable offline to most people. Their audience might adore them, but they aren’t a household name or recognised outside of their community. Some influencers push themselves to stardom by moving off social media platforms and into other sectors where their large audience follows. However, not every influencer is a celebrity and vice versa. Influencers are defined by their online presence and their ability to affect consumers’ purchasing decisions. That power comes directly from their relationship and bond with their audience. Often an influencer works within a niche community where the products they endorse would be attractive to their specific viewers. Any brand that chooses to work with an influencer is relying on the trust their audience has in them. An influencer’s endorsement works because their followers value their opinion.
Why Is Influencer Marketing Effective?
In some ways, an influencer’s endorsement feels more like a close friend sharing a product they love than a paid advertisement. It is much more casual and it doesn’t have to follow the same rules or restrictions. A consumer might see an ad for a particular product pop up occasionally and recognise it. However when a figure they trust tells them they have utilised that product and they prefer it, the odds of that consumer being interested has increased a tremendous amount. Consumers are bombarded by buying options and prefer to encounter someone that has already tried a product than testing it out themselves blindly.
An Influencers Approach to Heavy Topics in 2020
The amount of followers an influencer has doesn’t hold as much power as the strength of the relationship they have built with those followers. In 2020 many content creators tested their audiences by opening up about what issues were important to them and where they fall on divisive topics. Rather than pushing followers away with their strong opinions, that level of authenticity strengthened the relationship influencers have with their audience. The positive reaction was evidence that followers are invested in who influencers are as people.
This honest approach has also changed the way businesses choose influencers to work with. Beyond obvious demographics, an influencer’s personal beliefs and things they’re passionate about should also align with the brand they are endorsing.
Written by Alan Jones.