The emerging importance of influencers in digital marketing

The impact of social media influencers is on the rise., even in the Caribbean. We briefly discuss this phenomenon and challenges that are emerging.

 

It may not have been obvious a few years ago, but social media has ushered in a powerful force in the digital marketing space: the influencer. Thanks to the existence of TV and movie stars there has always been some form of influencer marketing. However, using celebrities can sometimes feel aspirational, and somewhat removed from the life and experience of the masses.

The current crop of influencers are people who are popular on social media, especially YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and could be based anywhere – even the Caribbean. They have been able to cultivate large audiences; there is active engagement between them and their followers; and their posts get thousands, or even millions, of views. Thanks to the relationship they have been able to nurture, whilst maintaining a folksy (“I am no different from you”) vibe, marketers and advertisers have begun to pay attention.

Being a “social media star” which can be quite lucrative – generating hundreds of thousand, to millions of dollars (USD) in revenue from ad placed by the social media platform. Further, influences are also being engaged directly by companies to promote their products, which opens up a broad range of opportunities and revenue streams. It this thus not surprising that increasingly, social media and developing one’s social media presence, is being seen as a business that many individuals are eager to tap into.

Growing focus, increased blowback

In any discussion of marketing trends, especially digital and social media marketing, the growing importance of influencers is consistently being mentioned. It is no longer an area that can be ignored, with many businesses broadening their strategies to include use of influencers. However, it should come as no surprise that with all of this focus on influencers and influencer marketing, the folksy/common feel of the engagement – which made tapping into that resource so attractive in the first place – is being lost. As a result,

  • The ordinary people who have evolved into influencers no longer seem genuine and authentic; increasingly, followers are insisting on being told when a post or video is being sponsored
  • Influencer-related scams are on the rise. For example, people are buying followers in order to be considered an influencer, so influencer selection is likely to become even more rigorous, and finally,
  • Similar to other forms of advertising, fair trade and competition rules are increasingly being applied to influencer marketing, to manage instances of misrepresentation, bias, conflict of interest, etc., and

Going forward, businesses may have little choice, but to look seriously at influencer marketing. Currently, it is still considered new and sexy, and can be a useful tool to achieve certain goals. However, as the segment evolves it is expected to become more conventional – like other forms of marketing, and need to be closely examined and managed.

 

Image credit: Pixabay (Pexels)

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