As influencer marketing is taking over traditional one and getting popular as a profession among youth, it is important to understand it both being a creator and a user. With digitisation and online businesses on rise, people rarely consider buying the products shown on TV rather they turn to various influencers for the reviews. The reviews and collaborations are mainly done for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and services. Though popular it is, it is the least understood communication platform and thus having a few mishaps and spams mainly in terms of content as well as fraud.
Around us, there are a few people who we like to go to for suggestions before buying a certain product, visiting a place or even watching a movie. It is because these people have a valued opinion as they either know well about the topic or have experienced it. They have the ability to influence people’s choices with their opinion. When influencers are paid to sway a specific audience about the topics including but not limited to fashion, food, academics, art, and lifestyle using the social media tools is what we call influencer marketing.
The difference between this marketing and traditional one where usually celebrities are paid and agencies make advertisements for the promotion of brands and services is that the former is experience-driven while the later is promotion-driven. An influencer indeed promotes the brand/service but the product in question is tested and then reviewed which saves the followers money and time whereas the products promoted on traditional one are only tested once they have been bought. With this explanation, the celebrities and influencers are not to be confused. An influencer is an ordinary person to whom people could relate and engage hence this marketing is based on customer-engagement as well. It is also not appropriate to gauge an influencer’s ability to influence by the number of followers. There are many bloggers who have considerable no of followers for they produce good content yet they are not influencer had they lack the ability to influence even one of the followers. Say, there is a blogger who has only 500 followers and has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinion of even 10 of them is said to be an influencer.
What started with made-up animated characters like Mickey Mouse and Tony the Tiger in 20th century developed into celebrities selling their popularity to a product and then with the surge in social media usage turned into sharing of pictures of food having small captions is a whole kind of advertising with sufficient no of influencers producing quality content and valued reviews in 21st century. The increasing number of brands played a significant role in this development. The more the choices for a customer, the more are the tactics to attract and engage them.
The distinctive element of this marketing is the trust customers put in influencers. They think of them as reliable and expert in their fields. A reliable influencer never changes his/her views for the varying amounts of money. He/she tells you the whats, hows, and whys about a product in question. Amidst the availability of mass information and innumerable influencers, the one who is true to the principle of trust is like a swan among ducklings. The rest would tell you to use a discount code but never tell why you should buy the product even if it is available on discount or you would only know the amount of packages they receive for promotion. The Pakistani-Australian blogger Shehzeen Rehman with the blog named Desi Wonder Woman deserves to be exemplified here. In the field of fashion and lifestyle, she does the just and detailed reviews and makes her collaborations worthy for her followers and could undoubtedly be called a reliable influencer of her field. However, it is advisable to the followers to not expect the content and views on various topics from every other influencer as they might have no knowledge on the subjects other than their fields.
Despite being customer-and-value-centered, it is the most abused marketing since the rate of participation is higher provided the easy access to social media. Initially, it was on Twitter when the hashtags were abused for money but now, Instagram is the platform where every product is ‘best of its kind’. The influencers promote a product and once they have received the money, they promote the competitor’s product with almost the same reviews. Countries like UAE have recently formulated legislations to regulate influencer marketing resultantly an influencer is compelled to have a license to operate in the country. In Pakistan, people have a hard time with digitisation. The government banning the new apps every now and then is the realization of not accepting the digital age and the abuse of this digitisation which is in fact the reason for putting a ban. Nonetheless, acceptance and regulation of digitisation is necessary to keep abreast of the modern world.
Defining influencer marketing, setting parameters and indicators to gauge the influence and the purchase, adaptation of technologies and new platforms, establishing easy yet authentic finance setups, and proper licensing of influencers could be a few steps to hamper the abuse of otherwise a reliable source of marketing.
As this marketing is developing and still needs regulation many brands and youth are still sceptical to opt it while others have already jumped on the bandwagon. One thing is to be sure, the world is progressing and mankind is yet to witness more advances so trying and testing the modern strategies and tools is never a bad idea unless they are abused and do not serve the purpose they are made for.