The role of the influencer has changed forever thanks to the pandemic
Over the last few years, it’s been almost impossible to scroll through Instagram and other social media platforms without seeing a perfectly posed photo from an ‘influencer’ promoting or selling something. In our profession, we’ve been on the crest of this wave, driving its use and creating a new breed of celebrity and way of driving conversation.
When the pandemic landed, many influencers and celebrities spotted an opportunity to hike up their already inflated prices to ridiculous levels. Many brands simply couldn’t afford the new rates, while others just weren’t prepared to tolerate them. As a result, the number of new campaigns featuring influencers has gradually declined.
Don’t get us wrong, celebrity is STILL a powerful force in modern society and the public still crave the endorsement of their favourite reality star. However, consumer expectations are changing and there’s a definite move towards consumers wanting to see real people who they can relate to promoting brands.
The evidence is clear – the role of the influencer is changing.
Brands – especially those with big budgets – will still want to work with celebrities and influencers who will charge for the privilege of endorsing a product or service on their channel to their hundreds of thousands of followers. But we predict brands are realising that celebrity endorsement is not the be all and end all to building a brand and getting a ROI.
As an industry, we’ve always had to adapt and try new ways of reaching target audiences. Securing posts on a purely gifted basis is getting harder and harder to achieve unless it’s giving the influencer really good, original content for their channel. If a brand is purely trying to get them to promote a product with a mention, they are becoming less interested unless there’s serious money involved.
We still maintain that some influencer activity, coupled with a dash of creativity and good old-fashioned media relations, is the best combination to deliver brand awareness and drive sales.
Putting effort into identifying the ‘right’ celebrity or influencer is essential. There have been a few high-profile incidents where influencers took things a bit too far and were publicly ridiculed for certain posts, which not only damaged their own reputation but that of the brand they were promoting.
Arguably, one of the most high profile examples in recent months was when the Jenner sisters launched a range of t-shirts featuring dead musicians such as the Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur without getting permission from their estates. The internet raged, the brand bombed and posts were quickly removed.
Such events have started to create a kind of anti-influencer sentiment, where consumers and businesses alike are tiring of the entitlement of some influencers and the ‘manufactured’ content they produce.
Heavily filtered photos and generic hash tag ladened posts are no longer as effective as they once were and brands, marketers and influencers need to work in partnership to ensure content is genuine and that the partnership is realistic if they are to capture our interest again.
In short, it’s more important than ever to ensure the influencer and the brand are a good fit, that the relationship feels genuine and the endorsement is believable.