Does Influencer Marketing Live Up to the Hype?
Marketing Social Media

Does Influencer Marketing Live Up to the Hype?

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As I scroll through my social media feeds before bed every night, I am bombarded by a plethora of products. It’s not just the targeted ads that social media algorithms have concocted for me–I’m talking about influencer marketing ads.

On Instagram, I saw one ad featuring Kim Kardashian surrounded by fresh vegetables and chicken, preparing her “favorite” Italian chicken cacciatore. I don’t always keep up with the Kardashians; nevertheless, I had two initial reactions to this photo. The first was that, given what I know about her lifestyle, I was hesitant to believe that Kim Kardashian knows how to cook such an elaborate meal. The second was that, because of the ad’s misalignment with Kim’s brand, it wasn’t effective to me as a consumer.

Kim K Insta

Things a Marketer Should Consider

In the ever-growing, tech-savvy millennial market, your consumers can, for the most part, see through disjointed marketing efforts. As a new or existing brand, social reach is incredibly important. However, take the time to make sure the selected influencer, the advertisement, and your brand all align to tell your story rather than their story. Matching the brand voice of the influencer with your brand’s voice is one way your ad will reach the right consumers.

For example, when Ayesha Curry claims that she’ll be making her next mouthwatering meal with her chef’s tools from Target, I would be inclined to at least look them up online to see how expensive overnight shipping would be. The point here is that Ayesha is a down-to-earth chef who wants the best for her kitchen and her family—wants that are shared by Target’s consumer base. Her brand story and Target’s brand story align so organically that it’s easy to overlook that this post is an ad. Because it’s credible that Ayesha actually uses these tools, Target has gained my interest as well as my trust.

Ayesha Curry Cooking Ad

The next part of a strategy to consider is whether your campaign is simply trying to gain social reach or achieve real engagement. Hilary Milnes for Digiday sat down with an influencer marketing executive who spoke honestly (and anonymously) about the social reach conundrum: “Everyone talks about how these ‘micro-influencers’ have such high engagement, but who cares about a 20 percent engagement rate on a post when only 10 people liked it? All it does is start a cycle where brands are working with a network of hundreds of tiny influencers that are totally hit or miss.”

When you have found your brand voice, search for those endorsers who will fit that mold rather than the other way around. Chances are they are followed by like-minded individuals who will be much more inclined to engage with your brand. If your audience is questioning whether your influencer even uses the product they are endorsing, you may need to find influencers who can better tell your story.

Don’t Neglect Your Product

The most crucial factor to consider when embarking on an influencer marketing strategy is to make sure that your physical product aligns with the story you are putting out there. A prominent example of a misalignment was the ill-fated Fyre Festival organized by 26-year-old entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. If this duo didn’t seem like an enticing enough selling point, they enlisted supermodels such as Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner to promote the festival.

Fyre Festival Instagram shot

The problem was that they relied solely on the celebrities pushing their story and claiming they were on board with this great product. The festival seemed to play on the phrase “if you build it, they will come.” However, they ignored the part where if it’s not built and they come anyway, you’re setting yourself up for a spectacular failure.

Getting It Right

One brand that uses influencer or celebrity marketing extremely well is Under Armour. As an athletic apparel brand, they have promoted their products through top athletes such as Stephen Curry, Misty Copeland, and Michael Phelps. They have also tackled the trials and tribulations of influencer marketing in their “I will what I want” campaign featuring Gisele Bündchen.

In the ad, they directly address the backlash of using a celebrity who appears to be “off brand” as a way of staying perfectly on brand. Everyone knows that athletes need to work incredibly hard to stay at the top of their game. However, the ad shows that anyone—be it an athlete, a model, or your average Joe—willing to work towards their goals can and should wear his or her armor proudly. By staying true to their voice, they are able to step out of the comfort zone of using only athletes as endorsers and create an inclusive and unique brand story.

To make influencer marketing right for you, make sure you have a clear brand story and find influencers who match your story—and don’t neglect your product.

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Featured image attribution: Jens Johnsson

Kristen Hefferan-Horner is a transplant from New York where she grew up, attended Fordham University, and earned a bachelor of science in marketing and finance. She previously worked in media buying for McCann Erikson where she negotiated advertising space on TV for Nationwide Insurance. She made her way to Boston in August 2016 where she is now a content coordinator for Skyword. She now brainstorms topics and analyzes data trends for clients across multiple industries such as healthcare, finance, healthy living, and pet care. She lives in Boston with her two-year-old pit bull named after her favorite Harry Potter character, Luna Lovegood. You can see her swimming in the Cape at #BlueNoseLuna.

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