Today, influencer outreach is a major aspect of many social media marketing strategies. That being said, the actual impact of influencer marketing may start to dwindle, as more and more people become skeptical of the authenticity of influencers after incidents like the Fyre Festival. Where exactly are influencer marketing strategies missing the mark?
The biggest disconnect is that many marketers are quick to associate audience size with influence. People seeking to execute influencer marketing campaigns may think, “If this influencer has the biggest audience, then marketing through them will be the most effective.” This, however, is not always the case. This study, for example, shows that a Facebook page with over a million followers reaches only about 2.27% of that following, on average. This proves that audience size is not always an indicator of an influencer’s ability to actually reach their full audience with certain messages.
Furthermore, influencers may have the ability to raise awareness among larger numbers of people than the average person. That does not, however, necessarily equate to an ability to drive action and influence consumer behavior. If an influencer is being paid by a brand to promote a certain product, they may not be fully invested in the product. They may not even use, or believe in the product! While many influencers are at least somewhat selective about only promoting products that at least somewhat fit into their lifestyles and personal brands, this does not always translate into a sense of real conviction and passion for whatever product it is that they are promoting to their followers.
These shortcomings lead to a question: is influencer marketing really the most effective way of engaging with consumer audiences?
Research suggests that the answer to that question is no. According to research, only 18% of consumers trust influencers, but a whopping 92% of consumers trust brand advocates. Looking at these numbers, it becomes apparent that there should be a shift in focus from influencers to brand advocates (or what some marketers are calling “micro-influencers”). Brand advocates, in a sense, play much of the same role that influencers are meant to play. They speak positively about a specific brand or product, and encourage other people to engage with that brand and purchase the product. The difference is that brand advocates are bred out of actual customers. They are not paid to project positive messages about a brand or product, but rather do so because they have used the product themselves. They have had positive experiences with the product, and with the brand as a whole, that have led them to feel driven to speak positively about the brand and/or product on social media.
While brand advocates may have smaller followings and networks than typical influencers, that does not mean that they are less influential. With brand advocates, many of the people that they interact with on social media are actual friends and peers. This means that whatever these advocates share on social media will have more leverage than a post coming from some celebrity or high-profile individual who has thousands or even millions of followers. The micro-influencer realm is a classic example of quality over quantity- they may not have as many followers, but they have a lot more influence over the followers that they do have.
As influencer marketing begins to face growing skepticism, marketers should begin to tap into micro-influencers and engage with loyal customers to foster a community of brand advocates who will spread the word about the product/brand on social media. As people trust recommendations from friends and peers more than from brands themselves, companies should be putting extra efforts into doing what it takes to get customers involved in marketing efforts.
Luckily, companies do not have to do all the legwork. Fanzee is a platform that helps companies streamline the process of social media advocacy, making it easier for companies to build a community of brand advocates that can quickly and effectively share brand updates, promotions, and content. Click here to learn more about how Fanzee can help take your marketing efforts to the next level.