The rise of influencer marketing: authentic or not?

Attending the Marketing Association influencer event in October sparked memories in my mind. As I sat in a room with my fellow marketing colleagues, we debated the ‘new’ way of reaching people - and the benefits and risks associated with that method. It’s safe to say there were very strong opinions coming from all angles. 

Maybe I have been around for too many cycles (does that make me a seasoned marketer?) but I remember very similar conversations when display adverts started invading our webpages, and then again when companies and brands started to invade our social media feeds. It was an outrage to begin with and then, well, we just get used to it. I am sure we will be having a very similar debate when we discuss how your phone is always listening to you, and then marketers putting products in front of you that you’ve been talking about – it is only a matter of time. 

Advertising is competing for attention, and brands are willing to pay to get it. In my opinion, influencer marketing isn’t any different. What’s constantly evolving is the methods in which we find that attention - and at the moment the buzzword is influencers. We’re using people. So, before we all ‘get used to it’ and are onto the next crazy idea marketers have thought up, let’s unpack some key themes that popped up at the event. 

Authentic or not?

Like any brand, product or person, there are good apples and there are bad apples. What might be a good apple to you, might be a bad one to someone else. That is the best part about being human, we’re all different. Go and find, follow and engage with people who fit with your purpose and your why. People who inspire you and sell products you are passionate about. If it ever starts to feel ‘not quite right’ or ‘a bit salesy’ then unfollow them. You have the power. Go and find the diamonds in the rough, they are out there, and they will stick around because they are genuine – just like brands and products. 

Food

Is it ethical, and what about the children?

My view on this is that we have been marketing to children for years. I remember the McDonalds adverts in the middle of the after school TV show Playschool, and I also remember crying when Mum refused to buy me some. Whether marketing to children is right or wrong, I am not going to debate right now, however I merely say this because it’s not a new thing. As parents, I think our children are going to find new ‘things’ they want and it’s about ensuring we use the tools that are available to monitor their behaviour. Education is a pivotal part of ensuring the message ‘what see you on the internet is not always as it seems’ relates to people that they follow and includes what those people are talking about. 

ROI?

The proverbial marketing funnel is no different in the influencer space. Certain ‘influencing posts’ are going to help build your brand, others will help you get sales through the door. Ensure you set yourself clear objectives on what you want the person and post to do, and then measure it accordingly. Remember that your customers want value before they buy and this is no different for influencer marketing. 

Consumers are still king or queen 

The power is really in their/your hands and that power is increasing as the days go on. You have the power to skip the advert, you can unfollow a person and best of all you don’t have to buy what is being sold to you. Comments and reviews are held in such high regard these days, so it really is all up to you. 

So where to from here?

It was said at the event that influencer marketing is at its peak and I believe this is true. It’s becoming a part of what we have come to expect and we have moved past those who are not honest about what they are doing or selling. I don’t have the answer on what is next, but I am excited to engage in the same conversation in a year or two when we debate the next ‘new’ thing.

Vanessa Taylor is realestate.co.nz’s Head of Sales. Vanessa believes there is no such thing as 'because that's the way we do it'. "Let's break the process, keep it simple, automate if possible and do it all for our customers". 

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