You can listen to the latest episode of The Right Fit podcast on iTunes
Influencer marketing has become a thriving industry in the past five years. What was once only reserved for professional athletes and celebrities has grown into a way for brands to engage audiences through smaller social media influencers.
Many of the world’s biggest brands are increasingly looking to social media to find who should represent them in their next campaign, hoping to leverage their engaged fan bases.
But as successful as some brands have found influencer marketing, there are risks associated with the marketing channel.
Getting influencers on board as part of your campaign means you are attaching your names to theirs, and vice versa, opening up both parties to criticism.
Take Pepsi’s recent controversial Kendall Jenner ad as an example. The ad caused global furore for inserting the privileged reality star into a commercial that attempted to push a message of unification. However, viewers thought Jenner’s role in the spot was disingenuous and it was quickly pulled by Pepsi.
Boss of research, strategy and creative agency White Space Concepts, Denis Mamo, says there is a danger if brands pick a celebrity before they have an idea of the brief and direction of the campaign.
“What happens, sometimes, is a marketer or brand already have someone in mind for a campaign because they are famous, but they have no relevance for the brand,” Memo said.
“There’s a lot of danger in choosing an influencer first because you have to have synergy to what the brand is saying.”
Another example of influencer marketing gone wrong is Disney’s tie-up with YouTube vlogger PewDiePie. He ran a skit on his channel that many considered to be anti-Semitic. Disney quickly severed ties with the gaming influencer, but the damage was done.
“As more brands try influencer marketing, we will see some great success stories and some massive fails,” said Taryn Williams, CEO and founder of influencer agency The Right Fit.
But she argued that brands are shifting from messages of broad persuasion to micro-influencers, which in some instances can work better.
“What we are seeing now is influencers are starting to find their niche. There was a period when influencers as a concept was quite broad, but brands have got much savvier now and much clearer of what and who they need to portray messages to,” Williams said.
To avoid another Pepsi situation (of which the ad was created in-house with no creative agency), AdNews journalist Lindsay Bennett said the way brands seek out their influencer is vital, with outside consultants being key.
“New influencer agencies are launching weekly and everyone has a different offering, including self-service. Self-service can cause issues because it may not have the scrutiny of as a talent agency who has someone that reads the brief and handpicks the influencer,” Bennett said.
Williams, Mamo and Bennett were speaking on The Right Fit podcast, hosted by Maz Compton. In this podcast they tackle controversial influencers, the dangers of influencers on Snapchat and the need for better guidelines around the marketing tactic. You can listen to the full episode here.
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