For some, influencer marketing signals to girls touting for free stuff, self-obssessed airheads posting limitless selfies or unauthentic clones willing to promote anything, if the price is right. Bloggers or ‘influencers’ often get a lot of stick for their chosen careers. I’ve regularly heard versions of the above from many people, and as a relatively new form of marketing, you can understand why some are still sceptical. Coming from the perspective of being both a blogger myself, and a brand owner who works with bloggers, I can see the issue from both sides. Let’s be honest, we all know of one or two bloggers guilty of the above. But, equally, those examples are by no means indicative of the industry as a whole.
Ultimately in the age of ‘realism’, critiquing the glossy, artsy work that bloggers create is prevalent and its cool to laugh at examples of this, celebrating the ‘anti glamour’ content instead. I get it, you have to laugh at yourself sometimes and it’s healthy to highlight that the glamour of Instagram isn’t the every day reality. However, bloggers seem to get more judgement and stereotyping than is warranted. Like it or not, the big bloggers out there making their fortune solely from their ‘influence’, worked for that sh*t. Whilst it definitely eases our jealousy to brand them as ‘lucky bimbos’, the fact is, they’re business minded entrepreneurs. Ultimately, people want to see artistic and glamorous content that is aesthetically pleasing – why else would the industry have grown to what is has now? As much as you might like to have a giggle at #bloggerlife from time to time, are you more likely to get style inspiration and advice from a basic product shot on a website, or from an array of different girls who you know and can relate to, styling complete outfits? When was the last time you brought something you hadn’t discovered through a blogger, celebrity of friend first? How many of us discover our new favourite coffee shops, restaurants and bars from seeing Instagrammers there first?
At the end of the day, whatever reservations brands may have, to overlook influencer marketing is akin to burying your head in the sand. Like it or not, it’s one of the fastest growing marketing strategies. As a business, you need to be able to adapt to your ever evolving industry. Time doesn’t stand still and it certainly doesn’t wait for you to catch up. One of the first things I learnt during my fashion business degree was ‘commercial awareness’. You have to know your market and your industry. Like it or not, influencer marketing is a huge part of the business environment, and so it has to be assessed as part of any marketing plan. I think the misconception here is that influencer marketing means sponsoring the select handful of influencers with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers. If that is your approach, you’re doing it wrong. Like anything, influencer marketing has to be targeted. The influencer landscape is saturated now and this is great for brands. You don’t need to sponsor the biggest influencer’s out there, you just need to seek out the niche that is the perfect fit for your brand.
A good influencer partnership won’t just be a case of posting a generic product placement image. If you get it right, and you find the right partners, an influencer will be a business man or woman who will completely understand their audience and your brand. They will genuinely see value in your product and they will produce content that’s exciting, and communicates your brand message or experience to their audience in an authentic and engaging way.