The Influencer Hype

Since the social media evolution, influencer marketing has been a key, strategic tool in the PR world. Whether you know them as Bloggers, Vloggers or even Content Creators, ‘Influencers’ are those who have built up a loyal, trusting and engaged online following. Instrumental in driving brand awareness and in hope of impacting sales, many brands have adopted them as part of their marketing strategy.

The industry is continually evolving, despite what label the influencers give themselves, but also the platforms they use, how they work with brands and how the industry is regulated. Influencers use a combination of social channels including Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and blogs (to name a few) to share visual and written content on a host of topics, from popular themes including parenting, travel and fashion, to even more niche topics like puppet making. Yep, that’s a thing.

Over the last five years, influencers have been collaborating more closely with brands to supplement their ‘organic’ content with engaging sponsored content both as part of ongoing relationships, independent campaigns and product launches. So are they just another advertising revenue or do they add real integrity to a brand?

Celebrity and online personalities tend to have the biggest followings and are the most aspirational influencers, but does that mean they are the least authentic? There is scepticism surrounding high-profile influencers with the public viewing micro-influencers (less than 10k followers) as more trustworthy and relatable.

The most important traits for a successful influencer are: relatability, honesty and authenticity. This is why it’s so important to ensure that when using influencers, they are a good fit for the brand and align with the core values and vision. For example, Optical Express received a lot of backlash for jumping on the Love Island trend and using influencers from the show who didn’t need to wear glasses to promote its products, causing the brand to appear ingenuine and artificial.

According to a report from the Association of National Advertising, 75% of marketeers currently work with influencers, of which 43% said they were planning on increasing the amount they spend. These figures suggest that the popularity of influencer marketing is not slowing down, with brands reaping the benefits by leveraging the influencers position as reliable and trustworthy sources.

At Home we’re continually looking at ways to incorporate influencers to benefit our clients’ campaigns. For example, Parkdean Resort’s recent ‘Coastal Adventures’ campaign, where we worked with family influencers to produce quality, engaging blog content and YouTube videos to showcase the beauty of Britain’s coastline. With the content appropriate to and resonating with the influencers’ audience, the campaign was well received and we achieved high engagement levels with over 900 shares.

As we look to the future, there are a lot of factors brands should consider. Perhaps most importantly are the new regulations that are being implemented to ensure that the influencer space is transparent and honest. These regulations shouldn’t dissuade brands from working with influencers, as it is their integrity and reliability that makes them such an effective marketing tool in the first place, brands just need to evolve and embrace the changes that enforce this.