Are social media influencers a passing trend or the new normal?
By Shifa Saguru, SOCIATE’s Copywriting Intern
Social Media Influencer (SMI) marketing is the talk of the town, but it wasn’t always this way. SMIs were predicted to lose their market share after the pandemic. As Kenzie Bryant, at Vanity Fair wrote, “Faced with a pandemic that has already done away with life as we know it, whatever inspiration influencers offered will no longer cut it.”
This forecast has been proven wrong. According to Statista, influencer marketing has seen its worldwide market size increase from three billion in 2017 to 13.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 after the pandemic.
In 2021, social media influencers are driving forward the digital marketing scene.
Will this form of digital marketing become the new normal or soon fade out?
Social Media Influencer (SMI) Marketing
91% of millennials trust online reviews as much as their friends and family. How many times have you skipped an item on Amazon with no reviews? Social media influencer marketing only works because of the trust the customer has in the influencer. They believe in the SMI’s recommendation and therefore are able to make a quicker purchase decision.
What are the risks of SMI marketing?
Influencer marketing acts as a third-party promotion for a brand. Since customers already follow these influencers, SMI marketing seems like a more authentic form of advertising. It seems less salesly, reeling customers in subtly.
However, these personal relationships can also be a double-edged sword. As influential personalities, influencers are responsible for their actions and words.
SMI’s need to preserve their authentic voice and stay clear of unethical behaviours such as buying followers or likes on social media platforms.
Importance of Trust in SMI Marketing
What makes an SMI so powerful is their ability to sway their audience’s opinion on a certain topic. This power shouldn’t be abused.
Their words hold weight among their audience. Influencers provide information and innovation to their followers. SMI’s are therefore responsible for their words and always under public scrutiny.
A businesses’ first and foremost task is to find a suitable SMI who can effectively communicate about the brand and represent them.
Walking the fine line between “influencing” and “advertising”
An increase in promotional content on the influencer’s account can also lead to backlash from the audience, causing them to be labelled as ‘inauthentic.’
If the SMI breaks the mutual trust that the audience has with them by promoting one too many products, they might start to lose followers. It’s a fine line to walk, and SMI’s have to be careful that they don’t make their audience feel like they’re being sold to all the time. They should still provide useful and valuable content that engages their followers.
Social Media Influencers are here to stay
Influencer marketing is here to stay – it does wonders for a brand’s engagement and helps get fresh eyes on new products and services. However, SMI’s will need to continue to maintain their credibility, avoiding overselling and providing valuable content to their followers.
As companies continue to find new ways to communicate with their brands, new tools for brand communication will also appear.
For now, SMI marketing offers businesses increased reach and brand visibility in a way that is not possible with other marketing tools.
Lynn Corbit writes, “With the right strategy and management, influencer campaigns can give your brand a boost in potential customer attention and growing digital marketing ROI.”