Influencers, trendsetters, opinion leaders… So many terms that are flourishing on the web to designate the actors of a fast-growing strategy: influencer marketing. So, is it just a fad or does it have a real impact on consumers’ buying behavior?
In the beginning, there were affiliation and sponsorship programs that were initiated 20 years ago and represented real levers for traffic acquisition. Then the rise of community networks and applications allowed us to “update” these practices, which are based on the same strategy: influence marketing. Why are brands and companies so keen on this type of strategy? What are the stakes? Is it effective? How to implement it?
Before answering these questions, it is important to have two facts in mind: “more than a third of the world’s population uses community applications”. The number of active users has increased by 21% in 1 year and new trends are emerging, such as bots, which will simplify certain tasks and thus generate a new use of social networks.
If companies are turning more and more to influencer marketing, it’s because this practice is at the crossroads of several phenomena
- the loss of interest of banners (adblock, AdBlockvery low click rate…);
- the complexity of SEO practices
- the saturation of publications on social media which will soon be no longer visible (Facebook’s reach-killing test in Slovakia is a big warning to all media).
- the pre-dominance of the smartphone in the behavior behaviournet users who spend more and more time on it, especially on Instagram
- the evolution of content (micro-videos, stories…) which are much more complex to produce for advertisers…
In this context, advertisers find it difficult to perform with traditional traffic levers (banners, SEO…) and therefore naturally turn to influencer practices that offer better results.
1. A strategy that guarantees visibility and sales
Influencer marketing, as defined by some specialists in the sector, is an ecosystem.
It will represent between 5 and 10 billion dollars within 5 years.
An impressive figure, it would generate twice as many sales as paid media (advertising exposure purchased by brands). Customers acquired through this method have a retention rate of 37%. We can also see that each social platform attracts a different type of user, allowing us to map and categorize the markets (mobile, beauty, fashion…). It is therefore up to brands to identify the networks that are best suited to meet their performance objectives.
But beyond being a vector for customer recruitment and visibility, influencer marketing is a highly interesting lever for bringing in QUALIFIED traffic: because of its differentiating impact versus the competition, and because of the power of the tools for managing campaigns with thousands of influencers and micro-influencers.
2. An influence on perception and purchase
Opinion leaders, trendsetters, experts in a category, influencers can modify perception and have a buying influence on a committed community. There are different types of influencers depending on the platform used: bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, snapchatters. Nevertheless, influencers are dependent on their platform: their influence is therefore very fluctuating and dependent on the platform’s notoriety, thus leading to changes in their modus operandi if the platform closes down (e.g. Vine and its viners). We can then talk about influencers who are “tenants” of their platform, the blog being the only platform where one can be the “owner” by keeping control and deciding alone on its eventual closure.
3. An accepted influence yes, but under certain conditions
As part of the launch of #MoiJeune initiated in April 2016, 20 Minutes and OpinionWay were interested in the role of influence in consumption and its perception by young people to deliver “a selfie of the young generation”.
After one and a half years of existence, 4,000-panel members, 50 waves of surveys with an average response rate of 50%, the generational study analyzed the issue of influence as seen by 18-30-year-olds.
This influence, which comes first from the nature of the shared content (39%), is above all a matter of proximity since the family is cited as the first source of influence as much on the items “me in general” (50%) as “my way of consuming” (28%), far ahead of the media for example (about 25% on both items), stars and muses or social network stars (less than 10% on both points). Indeed, 63% of the young generation do not consider muses differently from influencers.
Nevertheless, collaborations between brands and influencers are accepted by 20% of the panel members who see it as a new way to address them. These collaborations are also better accepted in certain universes such as high tech (41%) and sports (37%). In the same way, 39% of them understand that influencers may need to make money from their activity to continue creating. The only condition to respect, cited by 44% of respondents: the transparency of brands towards this approach. Indeed, the relationship between brands and influencers is often unclear. In April 2017, the Federal Trade Commission called 90 American personalities to order for hidden sponsored Instagram posts. 28% thus find it a shame that their Youtubers lose their independence by “marrying” with brands. And 31% even admit to having already stopped following an influencer after such a deviation.
In conclusion, influencer marketing is a fast-growing sector, whether in terms of allocated budgets or the number of influencers who are becoming more professional. However, the sector poses new problems such as the obligation of transparency. Hashtags such as “ad” or “sponsor” are appearing, to allow users of different platforms to distinguish the influencer marketing campaigns they are subject to. We can also cite problems of fraud, sometimes dubious practices to increase figures (followers, engagement…) or even real mafia systems that are being set up in certain high potential sectors.
In response to these problems, social platforms are fortunately making great efforts to standardize influence practices.
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