The rise of social media has brought along a new breed of personalities, who have become known as influencers. With thousands and even millions of followers on social media, they have amassed huge audiences who hang off their every word and see them as a personality, a friend and as someone they trust. It doesn’t matter what the industry is, whether it is beauty, fitness, travel or car enthusiasts, they have become experts in what their audience is looking for. They are experts at creating original, engaging content that will generate interest.
This is why brands are jumping at the chance to work with them, especially those targeting younger audiences. They are much harder to reach with traditional print media, they are not going to buy a newspaper each morning to see an advertisement. But you will struggle to find someone under the age of 25 who doesn’t check their social media accounts every morning before they get out of bed.
A glowing example of this is Zoella. In the eight years that she has been building her beauty and lifestyle YouTube channel and blog, Zoe Sugg has gained 10 million Twitter followers and 11 million Instagram followers that show no signs of slowing down. It is therefore no surprise that brands are queuing to partner with her to promote their products. High street giant New Look, designer favourite Yves Saint Laurent and even the UK government scheme National Citizen Service have all collaborated with Zoella due to her huge following. The Body Coach founder Joe Wicks is another example, his huge social media presence has led to successful partnerships with Uncle Ben’s and Sainsbury’s. They’re not typical celebrities, they have spent time working up a relationship with their audience. Zoella’s audience trust her and her opinion. If she doesn’t like a product, then chances are her 11 million YouTube subscribers won’t either.
There is a balance when working with an influencer. You don’t want to push your brand on the consumer, seeing paid for advertisement constantly on Instagram screams, “I’m being paid to do this”. People know when they are being misled. But using influencers who share the same audience as you do is a perfect way to reach an already established, large following. The content should be relevant in order to be successful. It’s a constant struggle for brands to influence their audience. Yes thousands of people will see a TV advertisement but how many will be influenced to go out and act in the way desired by the brand? If an influencer collaborates with you, you already have access to their audience. They are more likely to act in the way that you desire as they trust the influencer and therefore trust you. But if this is taken too far, with constant paid for advertisements, it comes across to the audience as too fake and both the influencer and the brand lose credibility.
Written by Jessica Seddon, a third-year PR student at the University of Lincoln on work experience at Magnite PR