Are you Easily Influenced?

How many “influencers do you follow collectively on all platforms? Most of you probably follow people who you do not really know on Instagram (celebrities, sports person, or other personalities that align with your interests). Other ways you may be getting your daily dose of influencers in Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tik Tok. In this Blog I want to explore the topic of influencer marketing which has boomed with the growth of digital platforms. 93% of marketers practice influencer Marketing and ~67% plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2021. Nowadays we have ad blockers installed in our computers, so Influencers is a great way for companies to reach target markets. Digital influencers are mor powerful in their niche communities than traditional celebrities even.

A little History

Influencer marketing has evolved through the decades; before there were digital platforms there were print ads, radios and tv ads. Do you remember those channels that would go on and on demonstrating a certain product with a well-known person?

Phase 1: A British Potter who got the approval of the Queen in 1765, named his pottery after the influential Queen – “Queensware”

Phase 2: Fictional characters were used as influencers. Coca Cola used Santa Clause and his jolly persona during the height of the Great depression to drive sales.

Phase 3: Celebrity Endorsements were a way to show real people with preferences. Nike and Pepsi formed contracts with celebrities to promote their products.

Phase 4: Reality TV like the Bachelor and Keeping up with the Kardashians  had a broad reach and were great for companies to pair up with.

Phase 5: Digital Influencer Marketing came into play with Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Existing celebrities gained followings instantly but now even “regular” people could have large followings with engaging content. These regular people are now known as “influencers.” There can be Mega-influencers with 1M+ followers like Savannah LaBrant on Tik Tok or nano-influencers (less than 10k followers) like mom blogger Lindsay Gallimore (8.3K followers).

What do the stats say about influencer marketing?

  • 92% trust the recommendations
  • 70% of teens trust influencers more than celebrities
  • It earns 11x the ROI of standard campaigns
  • 74% of people use social media to explore products

You can see here that Tik Tok saw a boot from 2019 to 2021 (not surprising).

Let’s talk Pricing

The Global influencer market is roughly $13.8 billion – but how does one determine their cut?

“Allegedly, a post from model Emily Ratajkowski would cost $80,700. Rumours are that Demi Lovato charges at least $668,000, while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson takes home a cool $1.5 million for crafting a post for his 187 million followers.”

The most common pricing formula is:

$100 per 10,000 followers + extras for type of post (x # of posts) + additional factors(cost of shoot/setup) = total rate.

So what about ethics?

Influencers have the moral and ethical obligation to do right by the followers who they influence. However, there is much room for interpretation here. There are a lot of reputational issues when it comes to influencer marketing:

  1. Influencer behaving inappropriately
  2. Influencer manipulating an image
  3. Influencer failing to disclose this is an Ad
  4. Influence taking advantage of young people
  5. Influencer promoting tobacco firm to young
  6. Inequity in how teenagers are paid for being influencers vs. adults

A lot of you may have seen the FYRE festival documentary on Netflix. This showed the liability of something influencers promoted is limited. Influencers may not have the full picture od a product quality and yet convince the general population otherwise.

 Another example is Dior. Models around the world simultaneously posted Dior products without disclosing that it was a paid sponsorship. This is deceptive marketing. Instagram has a “paid sponsorship” button for public figures but many fail to use it.

There are no set guideline and rules set for influencers and this leads to no consequences to their actions. Their influence can change society for the worse – especially with the trust that people put into these digital influencers. There are agreements that take place between the influencer such as non-disclosure agreements, brand services agreement, data protection agreements etc. However, there is not a official legal accountability to the users/followers of the digital platforms Users need to think more critically about what is being posted and the authenticity of it.

In conclusion, I want to leave you with the top 3 influencers (non-celebrity) in the world:

  1. Lele Pons – singer, model, and actress
  2. Jay Alvarrez – travels and adventures
  3. Alex Chung – professional and beauty and fashion photography

https://www.diggitmagazine.com/articles/influencer-marketing-has-some-serious-ethical-issues

https://www.thedrum.com/profile/influencer/news/the-legal-issues-that-influencers-and-marketers-must-get-right

https://social.techjunkie.com/the-most-popular-instagram-influencers-september-2019/#Top_Non-Celebrity_Influencers_of_2021

https://talkinginfluence.com/2019/10/16/influencer-marketing-ethics-doing-good/

https://aspire.io/blog/the-evolution-of-influencer-marketing/

9 comments

  1. Great post! I personally think it’s overdue that social media companies begin cracking down on influencer marketing strategies; I just checked Instagram, and there’s still no simple option to report a post for ‘looks like an ad’ or something along those lines. I’m sure we’re all seeing subtle marketing campaigns all over social media that are not being regulated and it’s making consumer’s weary of what to trust on the internet. Where do you stand on this: should this be a crackdown by the government to begin enforcing laws, or should social media companies do more to enforce regulations?

  2. Great post! This may be controversial… but I think Kim Kardashian is a marketing genius, I am impressed by her ability to stay relevant. Maybe I really should be shouting out Kris ?!

    I would add to your post that are a some regulations in place for influencers set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The biggest regulation is that you must disclose when you have any financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with a brand. This is why we often see #ad. I was able to find a FTC guide including tips on when and how to make good disclosures.

    Click to access 1001a-influencer-guide-508_1.pdf

    With that being said, I don’t think we will see any a major change to influencer behavior until the FTC makes an example out of an influencer with high social currency.

  3. Yesterday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai headlined a forum surrounding the look ahead of Alphabet…today…three influencers shared the stage to talk about the Influencer Economy. The Influencer Economy a real thing and it is definitely here to stay. I personally don’t follow any big influencers, I don’t think, other than already well-known athletes or musicians. But, I will say, that when athletes I do follow tag #ad in their posts, I don’t take those products seriously, so i found it fascinating that influencer campaigns have such a higher rate of success than other marketing campaigns. Really interesting post.

  4. I agree with Bret here. I do follow a lot of mega-influencers and when their post have an ad tag or a disclosure that its paid content, I usually ignore the post and keep scrolling. However, I do see how that still results in a high rate of success and build momentum for the sponsored brand. We unconsciously register that brand in our minds and the next time we are exposed to the brand we naturally gravitate towards it. Another factor that drives up sales is how much we are influenced by the influencer in question. The more you like the influencer the more you will be willing to “accept” or acknowledge the brands being sponsored. I keep scrolling when I sees such posts but at a certain level the influencer, frequency, and type of exposure for the brand shape my opinion on that brand.

  5. Really interesting perspective. I think the concept of an influencer really took off in the early days because people were drawn to the idea of authenticity – real people, with presumably no ulterior motive other than to share their experience using a product or service, that were essentially saving us time from searching, reading customer reviews and trial and error of buying and using products/services ourselves. As the influencer landscape has shifted to become precisely what it was intended to subvert (a thinly veiled attempt at companies promoting their products), I think that will change the way consumers respond and open the door for yet another iteration of marketing/targeting practices. I’m not sure what that will be, but I think the emphases on instant and relevant information, authenticity and product demonstration are imperative. I think the concept of influencers as sales/marketing tactics are here to stay especially given the stats you cite above, but personally I find that as the influencer persona becomes more powerful, the authenticity plummets and I increasingly distrust recommendations because it seems so forced (I guess we used to refer to this as “selling out” lol)

  6. I really enjoyed this blog topic. It wasn’t until the pandemic that I started to consume influencers content. I love to travel so over the past 18 months I’ve scratched my travel itch by following travel influencers on YouTube, specifically Kara and Nate’ channel. This YouTube channel follows Kara and Nate (a young couple from Tennessee) on their globe trotting adventures. One interesting aspect of these influencer’s is their transparency. They have a website that breaks down how much money they make from their YouTube channel, and even break down what they are receiving from individual advertisers. This has allowed me to better understand the world of influencer’s and how they make a living. This open communication allows me to feel comfortable to not being sold products deceptively, as you mentioned in your write up. I think I would choose to not follow an influencers content if they were not being up front about what products they are advertising.

  7. Great blog! A lot of influencers develop a more close relationship to their audience compared to a lot of celebrities. Some can even make the audience feel as if they are friends with the influencer. So when the influencer recommends a product or service, it feels more like something your friend would tell you to check out compared to an advertisement. It will be interesting to see if more advertisements/sponsorships will hurt the reputation of influencers going forward.

  8. Excellent job weaving through the impact of digital transformation on marketing and how it applies to us daily. Also enjoyed the “historical influencers”, although I believe we could go back much further to figures such as kings/queens, popes, pharaohs, etc. Contrary to other comments, I’m sure all of us have purchased product strictly because they were endorsed by someone we liked, pre-co-vid and post.

  9. I would be curious to see how this differs throughout the age ranges and gender. I use my siblings as a benchmark and while my youngest sisters are very engaged in their youtube influencers, my older brothers are uninterested.

    This is also like, in my workspace as younger people are the influencers that go to college and so we have a student at BC who is a lower-level influencer and he had quite the following when running the Boston Marathon. I wonder how being an influencer impacts the admissions process, given the recorded reaction videos that now take place around the college admissions cycle! Great blog!!!

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