About fifteen minutes after I wake up I start my morning make-up routine. For about three weeks step one has been that I generously apply the Nivea Aftershave Balm on my face as a primer for my foundation and everything else that goes on top. And no, I’m not a man, I don’t shave my face and yet every day I use a product designed for men. Why, you might wonder? Well, since about every YouTuber, vlogger and blogger is using this and raving about an aftershave balm, I couldn’t possibly be the last person on earth who hasn’t tried it. I’m easy to influence and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
This statement got me thinking about the evolution of influencer marketing. Since I’ve started following about a dozen of beauty bloggers and vloggers almost every day I have the feeling I know them so well. In the following article I’ll sketch the expectations and transformations that go hand in hand with authenticity. Social Media Today compares influencer marketing to a friend posting a hot picture of you. But is it really a reflection of reality or just a flawless filter?
Hot tweetaway: #InfluencerMarketing: reflection of reality or just a flawless filter? insit.es/2g55n1K by @dragon_julie via @CoolBrands #nextgen
RIP to the blogger
“Bloggers are dead,” claims Jolique Moller, founder of ilovefashionbloggers.com. The concept of just being a blogger and writing about what you eat, what you wear or where you went is becoming a bit outdated. The word blogger will evolve into the word influencer. Aiming to become more of a personal brand instead of being an online writer. An influencer is a trustworthy source whose voice is being heard in today’s world. Criticism is a part of blogging and influencers that will never change. Sharing sponsored posts and not being open and clear about it, may create some tension between the blogger and the followers. That’s why personal blogging about random things is no longer attractive. Followers ask for authenticity and don’t want to follow sell-outs who only think about making money. The influencers who survive these challenges are strong brands and are even allowed to tell their followers that they don’t like the products they’ve received. The online landscape of blogging is becoming highly saturated, making the jump to starting a blog one leap too far.
On the other hand, there’s a rise of more professional blogs. They aren’t just randomly posting stuff they received from brands; they brand themselves by posting about projects and products that lay very close to their interests. That’s what makes the difference between a blogger and an influencer: being authentic in choosing brands they feel comfortable representing. Adrianna Giuls of M Booth explains that today an influencer creates the content and shares an experience, a lifestyle around a product. This quote explains the way they try to approach being authentic. Influencers are great at creating content so as opposed to a brand they’re better at sharing a message. They represent advertising in a way that’s more like human interaction compared to a brand screaming loudly at their audience. Because influencers are much more like entrepreneurs, there’s a fine line between supporting a product or just being a personal brand that makes a living on being business pals with other brands.
Hot tweetaway: Creating a lifestyle around a product via #InfluencerMarketing by insit.es/2g55n1K @dragon_julie via @CoolBrands #nextgen
A noticeable trend will be the increase of product co-creations between influencers and companies. The beauty industry is a perfect example of these influ-preneurs as they do collabs with brands to make their own eyeshadows or liquid lipsticks. But does this stroke with the rules of being authentic? In my opinion there should be a certain previous relationship between the brand and the influencer. If it’s a brand the influencer has never mentioned before, there’s a huge chance the collaboration will be an epic fail. True followers will notice that it isn’t based on authentic grounds and it will result in a ton of negative comments. Luckily, I feel that the percentage of failed collaborations is on the lower side, because of the professionalization of online bloggers and vloggers. They make well-thought decisions and think very strategically.
Influencers with a lower like rate will rise
Not only followers seek for more authenticity; the companies who implement influencer marketing in their strategies will also be more involved in the search of authentic influencers who still have a lot of content potential. It’s not only about the number of double taps or likes. It’s about analyzing which blogs and sites are closely related to the brand image and are already interested in the brand. This makes the best profit out of influencer marketing. According to a global consumer study, 92% of consumers trust strangers over brands. This is a huge potential for companies who haven’t taken the plunge yet. Start with the smaller fish and explore their target groups.
Translating the trend to social
In the world of digital, this type of marketing is perfect to outsmart the users of Adblocker. Since recent evolutions Adblocker will even be used on mobile devices. This will make it harder to get in touch with your consumers; even the Millennials who practically live on their smartphones will now become harder to target. Social media such as Snapchat are the perfect way for influencers to be as honest as possible to their snappy friends. Because of the limited time the pictures are shown, there isn’t such high pressure to reach perfection as much as on Instagram or Facebook. Influencers, most of the time, allow themselves to show the real side of life on Snapchat. This social media platform might just be the most authentic visual way to connect with people.
NikkieTutorials is a perfect example of an online YouTube star who connects with her followers through Snapchat. Making videos about Snapchat Q&As and chatting through her Story is what gives an extra personal touch to her channel. The beauty guru does not shy away from giving an extra opinion and from showing a behind-the-scenes portrait of her daily life. And if she’s in the mood to show her favorite make-up products on Snapchat, it’s a damn good thing for a brand to be included on her Story.
A long-term relationship
One of the perks of authentic influencer marketing is the possibility to create a deeper relationship with your consumers and to really get to know them. Millennials are the perfect target for this type of marketing. Forbes stated that advertising doesn’t influence them and that even 43% of this generation rank authenticity over content.
New sectors are relying on influencers
As I discussed above, implementing Influencer Marketing in your strategy doesn’t always mean picking the blogger with the most reach and likes. M Booth made the prediction that influencer marketing initiatives will increase with 59% in the next year. Which means that new markets and sectors such as banks and recruiters will be tapping on the influencers’ shoulders to promote their brands. But is this a good idea, seen from the authentic big brother eye?
I don’t think so. Because being authentic and being relevant go hand in hand, it does not seem to me that it will be a big hit on just any kind of successful blog. Only if these types of brands find influencers who post content that really relates to the topic of the campaign (and not just the audience!) might it be successful. Wishpond blog suggests to first find your industry leaders through social influence metric tools such as Klout or Kred. You can start following these leaders on all sorts of social media and even check their SEO to rank them on success rate. Finally, it’s up to the brand of a particular sector to contact the influencer and see what kind of collaboration is possible. If these steps are followed, then you might have an opportunity to create authentic content on a bloggers’ or influencers’ media.
All rise for the vloggers
Vlogging is the new subtle way to influence people. Because of the homemade feel, there is a much more honest vibe to its content. The Belgian vlogging scene isn’t quite there yet, to say the least; not that many people are ready to open up such a huge chunk of their lives to the YouTube world. But still, subtly implementing product placement or even city marketing into the vlogging scene isn’t such a bad idea. The huge potential is just lying there, untouched on most channels. Holland’s best vloggers Anna Nooshin and Vloggloss have such a high reach that they even get invited to events where they have to vlog. They’re invited by the nicest hotels for a mention and a room-tour by these well-known vloggers. And because it is implemented in their everyday life it doesn’t come on as strongly as traditional marketing would.
Will the future of influencer marketing be as authentic as possible? Depending on the expectations of the followers and the brand, I think we will see a lot more influencers showing their real colors and they won’t just use the crayons they received to praise.