The Viability of Influencer Culture as a Marketing Tool
Wed, April 14, 2021

The Viability of Influencer Culture as a Marketing Tool

Marketers hire influencers rather than them marketing to a large group of consumers. / Photo credit by ImageBySutipond via Shutterstock

 

 

These days, people don’t just get famous for nailing an audition for a part on TV or the movies, for winning a contest, or even getting discovered by a talent manager. YouTube’s self-broadcasting model made sure that everyone that has an internet connection will have their “fifteen minutes of fame,” as Andy Warhol once said. Thanks to the video-streaming platform, we have seen the rise of the influencer culture, a kind of entertainment that ascribes to the exact way in which social media is formed. 

For example, you could be watching a big-name beauty YouTuber tell you all about how good the Fenty Beauty brand is and all of a sudden, an ad pops out of nowhere in the middle of the video. 

That’s just one example of the types of ads that can be added to these influencers’ videos. Since influencers are basically people on the internet who build fan bases and interact with their own niche communities to sell merchandise, content, or garner support for themselves, much of the heavy lifting is already over, and this is what businesses like to hear. 

But how do marketing and influencing really intersect in the era of the internet? What exactly is influencer marketing?

 

Worthy Investment

Influencer marketing is defined by the business community website Business 2 Community as “a type of marketing that focuses on key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire/hire/pay influencers to get out the word for you.”

It’s this kind of atmosphere that marketers want to use now. Interaction has become something of a currency as of late, and products and companies came to understand that attention was selling. 

 

 

However, what American business magazine Forbes wants to ask is if this kind of business venture is even lucrative, and, if so, how? 

For Klyn Elsbury of Young Entrepreneur Council, who wrote an article for Forbes, companies deem they are. Take Kendall Jenner, model and part of the reality TV family of the Kardashian-Jenners. Kendall gets in good with high profile brands because of her 1.6 million followers on Instagram, which gets her about $250,000 of payout per post. 

Elsbury pointed out that it’s a lot of money, but what draws brands to shelling out the cash is the fact that even if “just one percent of her [Kendall’s] 115 million Instagram followers bought a $100 product being advertised; the total revenue for the company would be almost $115 million.” 

 

Actual Investment

If you’ve been around long enough to watch influencer culture grow and eventually carve a place in society, you may have encountered the various apps and social media-adjacent programs that can help you gain as many followers as you want, regardless if they follow back or not.  

 

Brands should rigorously filter and do a background check on content creators to avoid the instances of being taken advantage of. / Photo credit by DisobeyArt via Shutterstock

 

For those of us who aren’t as hard on ourselves for having a small cluster of followers on our own social media accounts, brands could care less. What brands fear, though, as reported by City AM, a business-focused newspaper distributing content in London, is that the influencers they trust might be using these tactics to get brand deals.

Something like that had already happened in June 2018 when Unilever “complained about the industry and raised concerns about influencers with hoards of fake followers, which means that some brands weren’t getting a credible return on investment from their marketing spend.” 

For budding young entrepreneurs Ben Jeffries and Caspar Lee, who own an influencer marketing agency called “Influencer,” these problems are actually not really difficult to solve. All you have to do as a brand is understand and really filter content creators you want to join the team. Such an approach is not hard to come by for Lee, who is himself a content creator with seven million subs on YouTube. 

Jeffries supports Lee’s approach, saying: “People shout at our industry about the percentage of influencer marketing that doesn’t work, but the fundamental reason for that is a lot of advertisers choose companies that claim they have the most influencers. That’s not constructive, because they aren’t choosing premium influencers who’ve been checked not just for fake followers and engagement, but also for content creation ability.”

This same philosophy is also explained and endorsed by Business 2 Community. Their advice for companies is to look for small influencers. Numbers and metrics are important, but brands have to remember that if they’re intending to make bank on these influencers’ audiences, they have to accept that the influencer will always know their audience best. 

 

 

In recent years, businesses have also accepted this, as the website writes: “Instead of simply sending off a campaign for a chosen influencer to share, brands have begun to include influencers in the creative process.

“This has led to some amazing results. While brands have a good handle on the message they want to share, influencers often have a better handle on what their audiences want and need. If you want to engage their audience and convert them into leads for your brand, you need the valuable creative input that influencers bring to the table.”