ITL #194 Social affluence: tapping into the influencer opportunity

3 years, 9 months ago


Signing up celebrities as the face of your brand can be expensive and may cause problems. Are social influencers a better bet? By Nicole Reaney.

Flash back in time to 10 short years ago. Then the phrase social influencers was inconceivable. Today, social influencers are reining in the power of celebrities and journalism. In their own right, they are reaching a community status that positions them as a powerful entity for brands and messaging.

While some sectors remain at a relatively infant stage, others are embracing this voice opportunity. Given the shifting forces in advertising and public relations, are celebrity ambassadors a pertinent strategy? Or are brands best to invest in bloggers and online social influencers?

Celebrity endorsement strategies have been in place for decades. These relationships worked influentially back where consumers were less sceptical, in an era when marketing was seen as an authentic company voice.

Companies were able to capture a personality’s established following and connect that audience to their brand. They could generate instant brand appeal from the likeability of the celebrity. When the association appeared credible, brands cashed in on this business exchange.



Overkill and dilution

However, as more and more companies pressed brands into the faces of consumers, the believability and fascination diluted. Meanwhile, depending on the selected personality, the cost became more significant.

Then came the fast-paced digital world, re-igniting creative possibilities through voice, imagery, video and wording; making these associations appear even more personal. No longer hidden behind TV screens and magazines pages, having a celebrity use products in everyday settings and hold ‘real-time’ dialogue with their following about your brand is marketing in its finest form. Brands can execute integrated campaigns across traditional and digital media – reinforcing the messaging across multiple platforms.

Investing in celebrities doesn’t come cheap, and the risks of brands being swept up in the misdemeanours of celebrities are amplified, as consumers can voice their views, and are technically skilled in creating viral content like memes. With online content having an enduring lifespan and no longer fish and chips wrapping, there is permanency and a lack of control in brand voice at the hands of the public.

Sharp eyed consumers

Consumers are becoming better conditioned to recognising paid endorsements. Moreover, a celebrity that blazes their name across multiple partnerships is suddenly more obvious in an Instagram gallery. On top of which, their activity levels can also effect delivery of brand messages.

The lack of brand control extends to forced associations – where there is the risk of a celebrity being snapped using a rival brand.

The recent divorce of Brangelina, saw a wave of social activity across the world. One company, Norwegian Airlines, jumped on the explosiveness of this news, and quickly executed an advertising campaign promoting an offer to Los Angeles.

I assume Brad Pitt wasn’t engaged as a face for Norwegian Airlines he would be up for millions. Instead, the brand drew out the benefits of this celebrity news to its commercial benefit at no cost.

This appears to have the same effect, if not an even stronger one, than a celebrity brand campaign. It generated viral content across the world, media publicity and a new-found humanised affection for the airline. I have no doubt sales were made. Not a bad result for a campaign without celebrity fees attached.


Captured consumption

Brands are also capturing celebrities consuming their products. Again, these are unpaid social opportunities that haven’t required exhausting contracts and arrangements – and deliver a true presentation of a preference for a brand.

Meanwhile, the rise in everyday bloggers and social influencers has added a new dimension for brands. Generally affordable, flexible and relatable to the population, these marketing assets are making waves in brand campaigns.

Without the complexity and within easy reach, social influencers are viewed as credible sources. A recent study indicated that over 80 per cent* of consumers are highly likely to follow a product recommendation made by an influencer.

While a single paid celebrity partnership can dent a marketing budget, restricting the extensiveness of a campaign, multiple highly relevant influencers can be reached economically and achieve brand coverage in a measurable creative strategy.

Flexible vehicle

These influencers can be utilised for reviews, integrating product use, blog and social posts as well as pure advertising. For sectors like food, fashion, lifestyle, retail and health, it’s an approach that can support traditional brand campaigns or hold its own depending on the business intention and capacity. It’s a vehicle that can be quickly executed to react to timely events. A vehicle that should be considered in the marketing mixand it’s a fledgling opportunity yet to reach maturity.

Mimi Elashiry is a self-made female model from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. The combination of being genetically blessed and showcasing the life of a perfect beach gained Mimi Insta-fame within a short period of time.

Dubbed “that babe on Instagram”, her international following grew and grew. After rejections from multiple talent and modelling agencies, Mimi got the last laugh. The pint-sized digital influencer is flown all over the world on trips, is backstage at festivals and concerts across the world and has had endorsements with national and international companies. She is paid to influence her following into liking and double tapping brands, events and products ranging from clothing through to non-permanent golden tattoos.

Paid endorsements by online influencers is now used by 52 per cent of online marketers – a number that is rapidly closing in on display ads (58 per cent) as the top paid avenue for online advertising.**

The movement is unprecedented with everyday people reaching international profiles, media attention and even celebrity attention.

Source: Facebook (referring to Australian blogger Constance Hall).

The social influencer movement offers start-ups through to multinationals a convincing brand platform. The future is ripe and it’s a pocket that hasn’t yet been utilised to its fullest extent.

In a brands quest to deliver campaigns that maximise allocated budgets and create a more personal connection with consumers, taking the time to invest in social influencer strategies will realise the diminishing return of traditional celebrity partnerships.





The Author

Nicole Reaney, Director of InsideOut PR and Social Influencer agency: #AsSeenOn.

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The Author

Nicole Reaney

Nicole Reaney, Director of InsideOut PR and Social Influencer agency: #AsSeenOn.

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