The Changing Influence of the Influencer

In these media savvy times we find ourselves in, just about anyone with a good camera, access to the internet, and a bit of flair can label themselves an ‘influencer’. Take some pictures, blog your thoughts, use the right hashtags, amass a following and suddenly you’ve created your own personal brand.

THE CHANGING INFLUENCE OF THE INFLUENCER

In these media savvy times we find ourselves in, just about anyone with a good camera, access to the internet, and a bit of flair can label themselves an ‘influencer’. Take some pictures, blog your thoughts, use the right hashtags, amass a following and suddenly you’ve created your own personal brand.

But with so much content available, it can take time to cut through and establish a following, says Richard Wilson, CEO of CLICKON Media.

Which is where the dark side of online marketing has made a name for itself, namely in buying followers.

Industry Shake-Up

The word on marketer’s lips is ‘transparency’. Best practice strives for those endorsing products to do so in an open and honest way, and to earn followers rather than buy them.

Its significance has not been missed by the big social media players. Back in 2016, Google introduced influencer guidelines for content disclosure, others followed suit including Instagram who launched their own tools for best practice.

Now it seems, brands are waking up to the changing times too.

Just recently, Unilever announced that it would be reviewing the way it works with influencers. In a recent interview their marketing spokesperson Keith Weed, said that the industry needed to take “urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever”. The changes mean that the company will no longer work with influencers who buy followers, and it will prioritise partners that practice transparency.

Transparent is the new Black

This is good news for the industry, according to CLICKON’S Wilson, who says: “For too long brands have been looking at influencer reach as a measure of success alone. The time is right to review this and consider what causes positive behaviour in customers. We’ve found that creating engaging content, telling stories, being relatable and relevant is far more important to today’s millennials.”

The statistics speak for themselves. It recently emerged that up to 15% of Twitter users may be fake along with 60 million automated Facebook accounts.

CLICKON have long recognised the need for honest and relatable story-led content that drives engagement and click-throughs. One such example is their work with America’s Navy, on the ‘Faces of the Fleet’ campaign, which focuses on the awe-inspiring stories of the everyday people that make up America’s Navy. Episode four follows Jesse Iwuji – one of only a few African American NASCAR drivers – on his unlikely journey from the Navy to NASCAR. It’s a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved through determination and hard work. The emotional narratives at the core of CLICKON’s content drives their message home, truly connecting to its audience.

Changing Times

If Unilever’s latest stance is anything to go by, it may just be the change needed to clean up the industry and make brand partnerships more credible.

There is nothing to fear for brands either, in fact it might even deliver greater brand loyalty among its users. In a study by PR week two thirds agreed that the perception of a brand improved when it was transparent about product placement.

Change is afoot, but there’s more to be done yet, #watchthisspace #notanad

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