Our lifestyles have evolved with advancing technology. So much so that they are not only affected by the way we consume, they have also changed marketing strategies for many companies. Advertising methods that worked only a decade ago, such as door step sales, billboard advertising or television advertising, have all lost their meanings in our day. The most common media of our age, the internet, is the most preferred medium for marketing. But we are in such a fast-changing period that even the ads on websites are no longer effective enough. At this point, we have been introduced with a new marketing method: influencer marketing
Unlike other marketing methods, by which brands advertise their products and services directly to the consumer, influencer marketing is a method by which brands promote their products or services through an "influencer." Here "influencer" defines people who have created their own group of followers in a specific area (such as makeup, fashion, traveling, or sports) and hold the power of inspiring and affecting them. By working with them, brands promote their products through the recommendation of a third party.
Millennials, who are about to hold the highest spending power and become the main target of brands, are a generation that grew up with technology and use social media actively. Traditional advertising methods that worked with baby boomers and generation X, such as television advertising, disturbs millennials exceedingly and usually are ignored by them. Influencer marketing, which is the best marketing method for a socially active, globalized, and digitalized generation, is now one of the most preferred advertising methods by many brands.
One of the developments that made influencer marketing necessary is the emergence of software that blocks ads. AdBlock is one example, and its utilization becomes more common year by year. Last year AdBlock utilization increased by 30 percent and reached 216 million users. And it means plenty of the ads on the internet have never been seen by the consumers. An alternative marketing method for such a case, influencer marketing allows brands to reach consumers without having been precluded by any software.
A fundamental change in corporate marketing language
A successful example of influencer marketing does not only stay as an advertisement, but it also helps the brand be embraced by consumers. One of the main strategies to achieve this is to promote through an influencer that has close ties with consumers and carries conviction. Promoting through influencers with a large mass of followers would be perceived as an unnatural and unconvincing attempt by consumers. Influencers with fewer followers would have a more promotive and credible impact on consumers.
Promoting with the right influencer is as important as the nature of the influencer. To make a product appealing to the audience of an influencer, the influencer should have gained credibility in the relevant market. So that whenever we are doubtful about a cosmetic product or a smartphone we plan to buy, one of the first things we do is to take influencers' opinions on that product into consideration.
Preferred by almost every big brand nowadays, this marketing method is now a big business. Last year, $570 million was spent on influencer marketing works only on Instagram. In July 2016, more than 300,000 posts were posted by influencers on Instagram.
Influencer marketing is becoming a sector, and that involves governments
Being an emerging sector, influencer marketing is subject to some regulations by the government. The Federal Trade Commission of the United States (FTC) made some regulations on how influencers should promote a product and how consumers should perceive it to protect consumer rights. Influencers now have to use hashtags such as #ad and #sponsored in their posts to show they are sponsored by the brand. And that hashtag should not be lost in a sea of hashtags; it has to be readable and clear. To avoid misleading consumers, FTC forbids influencers to have false claims in their posts. Influencers recommending a product without using it or advocating a product which they did not like will be violating the FTC's rules.
To disclosure sponsored posts is an effective step to raise consumer awareness. But in terms of brands, in time these posts may take the place of ads we block with AdBlock or skip immediately.
Influencer marketing is expected to be almost a $10 million business within the next five years, and it seems like it will take up a larger space in brands' advertising budgets. A total of 84 percent of brands are expected to have at least one influencer marketing campaign until the end of the year. According to a poll by marketing solutions provider Linqia, 48 percent of 170 marketers plan to allocate bigger budgets for influencer marketing, while only 4 percent of them plan to allocate small budgets for it. It is clear that influencer marketing will be one of the dominant marketing methods in the upcoming years.