Influencer v content marketing: When influencer marketing goes bad

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Snapchat loses £1bn after one tweet by Kylie Jenner

As the popular messaging app Snapchat will tell you, not every connection with an influencer works to your advantage.

Commenting on its recent re-design, in February 2018, reality TV star Kylie Jenner asked her 24.5 million followers on rival networking platform Twitter, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.”

Snapchat saw $1.3bn (£1bn) promptly wiped off its stock market value.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that involves individuals whose personal identity and tone is on brand, with a significant degree of influence (not to be confused with necessarily having a large social media following), who are prepared to endorse a product or service that feels aligned with them in the eyes of the consumer.

The key thing is that the influencer has the power to effect change in the behaviour of the consumer, ultimately encouraging them to buy.

At its best, influencer marketing has the benefit of appearing less direct and more conversational than more traditional methods of marketing. And it can often be much more cost effective than traditional advertising.

How effective is influencer marketing?

To be honest, there’s little that’s new about influencer marketing. As a concept, it’s been around for years. Long before the arrival of the internet and social media, brands have been using celebrity endorsement for their products. And we the consumer have been well aware that the celebrity is being paid to push the product.

However, celebrity endorsement is not quite the same as influencer marketing, which itself can be remarkably effective and doesn’t necessarily require financial compensation.

For example, when Oprah Winfrey publicised her recently acquired 10% stake in Weight Watchers, share values rose by 92%.

And closer to home in the UK, if you work in financial services you will know first hand that sales of any related product recommended by Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis will see an immediate and corresponding peak, as consumers rush out to buy.

Why should brands exercise caution around influencer marketing?

Nevertheless, for all its attractiveness, brands still need to exercise a degree of caution when investing in influencers as it is clearly not without its risks.

And with increasing ambiguity about what actually constitutes an advert in a social media post, there have also been calls for tougher regulation of advertising by celebrities on social media, as the Advertising Standards Association investigates whether or not existing ad labelling rules need strengthening.

So, perhaps the time has come to ask whether or not influencer marketing still offers the best bang for your buck. And whether or not it can be safely relied on to promote your brand.

As Snapchat learned to its cost, it doesn’t always go your way. And when it goes wrong, we all learn about it in minutes.

Is content marketing a better alternative to influencer marketing?

The good news is that there is a tried and tested alternative to influencer marketing, which is also not new. It’s content marketing. And in reality, influencer marketing should come under an effective content marketing strategy rather than be seen as a competitor to it.

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of content in order to attract more customers. Its aim is not to sell or explicitly promote your brand but rather to create an interest in your brand’s products or services. This in turn builds trust and drives revenue.

Perhaps most importantly, unlike influencer marketing, with good content marketing, you get to keep control of the message. Maintain consistency. And your brand voice. All of which form key components of an effective content marketing strategy. And done effectively, the engagement of the customer should feel just as personal as influencer marketing.

Content marketing builds authentic relationships

So what’s the takeaway from all this? In a nutshell, influencer marketing certainly has a value. Connect with the right influencer and your brand will fly. But it comes at a cost. And sometimes that cost can be unacceptably high.

And if good content marketing is all about building an authentic relationship with your prospects and your customers, then surely you should be leading this yourself rather than leaving it up to someone else who could do your brand more harm than good?

In short, you need to weigh up all the costs and consider whether, longer term, you might get a safer, more effective, return on investment with content marketing.

Find out more about how content marketing can engage your customers

For further information about how great content can help you better engage with your customers, contact The Content Marketing Team. We’d love to help.

About The Content Marketing Team

We are a team of creative thinkers – and doers. We’re based in Market Harborough in Leicestershire. And we are passionate about creating engaging content that your customers will fall in love with.

 

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