This week, we asked team member Eden Mitchell to give us her view on how influencers are impacting on the lives of women her age. Read on for an interesting perspective on why you shouldn’t always trust influencers.
The rise of the influencer
The rise in brands seeking out influencers to showcase their products to their followers is rising. Marketing on social media is now the most direct route to reach a target audience, including those like me: a 22-year-old who has just graduated and has now started on my career path. It can be hard to know who to turn to for advice when you’re a long way from home and friends are scattered far and wide – as an alternative, social media is a readily accessible source.
It’s now usual for women of my age to regularly visit social media sites throughout the day. But while we’re connecting with friends, we are also subjected to targeted posts from influencers, often promoting a brand that wants us to rethink our life choices. Designed to catch your eye and hold your attention, it’s hard to ignore the aspirational posts and super-positive chumminess at the best of times, never mind when you’re feeling a bit lonely in a new job or new city.
Influencers are the celebrities of the social media world, often famous for no other reason than their willingness to post frequently and stay on message. A large dollop of personal charisma and a friendly, attractive face helps too. Their success lives or dies on their ‘reach’ – the greater the audience; the more they can charge brands to collaborate on an endorsement.
Navigating influencer endorsements fact from fiction
Influencers can be very persuasive – but its also hard to know how well informed an influencer is on a subject beyond what a brand has told them to say. This isn’t such a problem when it comes to something as superficial as a lipstick or hair care product – although it is annoying and costly if you buy it on their recommendation and then find it doesn’t live up to its promise.
But when influencers are giving advice on diet (such as ‘clean eating’ – which is actually pretty much a meaningless term), exercise or even natural contraception without any qualifications or training in these areas, the consequences for their followers could be hugely harmful. This post on the ‘Natural Cycles’ app and influencers, written by a doctor, highlights the ethical issues perfectly.
Every morning on my Instagram feed, I see influencer posts promoting everything from workouts to food supplements all written by women who, as far as I am aware, are publishing posts based on limited personal experience with no wider research beyond what the brand who is sponsoring the post has suggested they say.
What implication does this have for brands?
Influencers remain an affordable and reliable means of reaching consumers. However, the onus must be on conveying information accurately and above board. One way to keep social media users on your side is to make it clear at a glance that a post is sponsored, rather than hiding it away at the bottom of the post.
Imogen Fox, executive editor, Guardian News and Media commented in The Drum:
“I follow a lot of influencers on social media and the ones who are the most upfront about their paid partnerships are the ones who persuade me the most. Those who hide #ad under a million hashtags lose my respect pretty quickly. Transparent labelling is key – I wish everyone played by the same rules.”
We’d love to know what you think about the rise of influencer marketing – do you think their followers and brand consumers are starting to get wise? Is it time for some influencers to clean up their act before the bubble bursts?
If you are a brand that wants to talk to us about ways to use Influencer Marketing in the right way – to connect honestly, creatively and effectively with women, please get in touch today.