by Chelsea Riffe
Influencer marketing is evolving as one of the leading trends of digital advertising. The way I would describe it is having an influential person post on behalf of a brand to tell their own story of their experience with that specific brand. In an article written by Ted Murphy (2014), “seeding influencers with cash and products gets the ball rolling, allowing brands to engage their audience and leverage the conversational feedback” (para. 7). Before I go on, I wanted to provide you an example of a blog post that is considered influencer marketing, also known as sponsored content.
You’ll notice that at the very top of the blog post, it says “This post is brought to you by World Market. All opinions are 100% mine.” This is a clear indication of content that is sponsored; World Market provided this blogger, or influencer, with cash or product compensation to create a blog post on behalf of their brand. Now that you have an idea of what influencer marketing is, it’s important to know that there are other phrases to describe influencer marketing. Some call it sponsored marketing, native advertising or content marketing. While display is still used today, (banner ads for those not familiar with the term), it’s a dwindling form of marketing. According to Murphy (2014), “30 percent of marketers said that online display advertising is ‘dead or dying’” (para. 5). Many companies still use display ads to try and gauge their audience, but with influencer marketing emerging, it’s hard to keep an audience’s attention with standard IAB ad units. Think about it, when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad?
The concept of influencer marketing was taboo a few years back. Writing posts on behalf of a brand and getting paid for it seemed like a scam to many people. Now, it’s become more accepted because of the unique content that is created; it’s not just a stock template or banner ad being slapped on a page. The influencers actually engage with the product and have an experience with it, creating imagery and posts all unique to each site. Social sharing on sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are seen now more than ever because marketers understand that tapping into different consumers’ minds means utilizing different platforms. The table below, courtesy of AdWeek, shows the correlation between time spent on social media and the need to tap into those sites to amplify marketing efforts.
I know I personally spend a ton of time on social media every single day. Because of my job working in social media marketing and taking courses on this topic, I notice native advertising efforts much more now. You might be asking yourself, well what’s really the difference between a blogger creating content for a brand versus a brand just putting money behind a paid story on Facebook or Twitter? There’s a big difference. Let me explain.
Think about when you are on Facebook and you see a random ad pop up as you are scrolling through your news feed. You didn’t opt in to following that ad, but it’s there just because you’re logged on and that brand paid money to place it there. With influencer marketing, you opted into following that blogger or influencer and their social sites, so when they share something for a brand, it’s less jarring and annoying, because you already followed that person.
Companies and marketers are realizing this issue. Influencer marketing also amplifies digital and social conversations, because sometimes a post, pin, tweet or share goes much further than a broadcast. Just how media agencies buy placements on TV, radio, print, and out-of-home spots, digital space is a hot new buy. It will be interesting to see how many companies put more money behind digital efforts or just take the plunge into all digital marketing, like Mike’s Hard Lemonade did this past April. Stay tuned digital media students!
Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). .com Disclosures. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
Moses, L. (2018, December 13). As social sponsorship grows, influencers are looking to cash in. AdWeek. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/social-sponsorship-grows-influencers-are-looking-cash-154530
Schultz, E. (2014, April 1). Mike’s hard has a new strategy, and it’s all digital | CMO strategy – Advertising Age.Advertising Age CMO Strategy RSS. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/mike-s-hard-a-strategy-digital/292411/