Most of us have done it, buying something because someone else recommended it. Whether that’s your mum or friend, or someone you don’t know personally but follow on social media.

With so many competing products out there, it can be tough to know which one to go for – especially if you are buying online and cannot physically see the product. It’s only natural to feel more comfortable about a purchase if someone you know and trust has recommended it first.

There are a lot of nitty-gritty details we could get into about the differences between an influencer and a brand ambassador, the different platforms used for influencer marketing to the fairly recent FTC rules brought in around disclosing when content has been paid for or gifted. But what we want to dive into today is whether influencer marketing is still worth it.

Effectiveness of influencer campaigns

Like all marketing channels, influencer marketing is an investment that you pay for with the expectation of getting more money in return. It takes time and skill to find the right influencer with the right target audience and engagement levels and, most importantly, trust.

The marketing giant that is HubSpot has done research that suggests:

  1. 80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective.
  2. 71% of marketers say the quality of leads from influencer marketing is better than other sources.
  3. 60% say they have been influenced by a recommendation when shopping in-store.
  4. 48% of marketers working with influencers say audience relationship is the most valuable factor when considering which influencers to work with.
  5. Influencer marketing strategies focused on branding or engagements generate 8 times the ROI.

Does it work?

A lot of people are starting to question whether influencer marketing still works. This is similar to when everyone pronounced email dead, but you can still barely go a day without at least one company emailing you about new products or their latest sale.

That answer is – of course influencer marketing still works! Just like any other marketing campaign, influencer marketing takes strategy, implementation, monitoring and reporting, and without those results coming in, people would not still be working with influencers to grow their brands.

However, like any other marketing campaign, influencer marketing takes research and strategic planning. You almost definitely won’t see the results you are looking for if you just approach the first influencer you come across and ask them to post about your product or service.

How important is trust?

Trust is a vital factor in influencer marketing. One of the things that gives influencers a bad name are the lesser known ‘celebrities’ coming off reality shows and suddenly advertising the usual list of high street clothing brands to exploit their five minutes of fame.

Selecting the right influencer for your brand is vital. If you are selling baby products, a Mummy or family influencer is going to be a much better fit than an influencer that has built their platform around gaming for example.

Even within the ‘Mummy influencer’ category, there are many things to consider, including which platform you want to focus on. If their main platform is Instagram but you want someone to talk about the product in more depth on YouTube, they may not be the best fit for you.

Do you want an influencer with a huge audience to really boost awareness, or a smaller audience that may be more likely to convert to a sale? A large factor in this decision will likely be budget, but it is important to consider if your aim is conversions or brand awareness through views and engagement.

Does size matter?

In general, there is an opinion that the larger the audience an influencer has, the less people are likely to trust their recommendations. This is an interesting idea, but it is more complicated than that. It is no secret that some people have made millions of social media – one example being the power couple Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes. But it’s worth pointing out that any influencer who has been that successful would probably not have got to where they are by promoting random products or services that are not right for their audience, or are not the quality that would be expected by that audience.

One influencer who talks a lot about the balance of being honest about making their living on social media versus choosing the right companies for her and her audience is Louise Pentland. Here’s an example of one of her paid ads.

You can see from the image that the ad is clearly signposted, complying with FTC guidelines and the campaign sits neatly with having a child her daughter’s age. After following Louise for a while, you would also know that internet safety and screen time is something she regularly speaks about trying to navigate in such an online world.

Essentially, you probably won’t get to be a successful influencer if you are promoting things that are irrelevant to the people who follow you, or you are misleading people about those things. There’s also an argument to say the really big influencers don’t need to promote wrong or bad products because they are not short on cash.

Smaller or micro-influencers are generally considered to be very trustworthy, as we can assume they aren’t being paid vast amounts for their recommendations, and the relationship feels a lot more like your friend telling you about something they genuinely like.

And then of course there is everyone in between. The best way to gauge how successful a campaign will be with a specific influencer is to ask for their media kit. This should tell you which brands they worked with the past, and their audience stats, including engagement figures and their prices.

Another business savvy recommendation is to do some thorough research before signing on the dotted line. Everyone is human and makes mistakes, but your brand’s reputation is at stake and if you can avoid negative backlash by thoroughly checking for any controversial history or scouting out any problematic posts, you could save yourself a lot of hassle later down the line.

What to remember

The main thing to remember from all this is that influencer marketing is still thriving. If you are questioning whether to continue, or tempted to try it for the first time, a well planned and executed influencer marketing campaign can and will bring huge rewards.

The things you need to consider to ensure your campaign is a success are:

  • Which platforms you want to target – there are more options than just Instagram. Consider YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
  • Decide on the type of influencer you want, from their audience size to their engagement results, as well as their own brand image.
  • Ensure the influencer you choose complies with all relevant regulations. Make sure you keep up to date with these, as they are regularly changing and only getting stricter.
  • Consider long term relationships with the people you work with, rather than one off campaigns. This saves time, energy, and budget, not to mention creating a true advocacy feel.

But it is also important to remember that this field is constantly changing, and you will need to keep up if you want to achieve the best results possible.

If you are thinking about investing in influencer marketing, please do consider this as part of your broader paid social campaigns. If you would like one of our expert senior team to conduct a paid social audit of your current activity, then please get in touch to learn more.

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