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What Consumers Think of Influencer Marketing

In a recent survey about brands’ use of social media, I-COM found that only 7% of consumers said that they would definitely buy products endorsed by celebrities they admire. Although a further 19.5% said it might influence their purchase decisions, a whopping 70.3% of people said that they either do not care what celebrities do or are aware of the fact that celebrity endorsements are paid so do not let these endorsements influence their purchase decisions.

Respondents remarked, “I may decide to buy the product if I like it, but am aware that most promotion is paid for.” The general feeling is that as they are aware that celebrity endorsements are paid, they would only buy a product if they were already inclined to do so.

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Interestingly, however, consumers seem more influenced by their favourite bloggers with 11.9% of respondents indicating that they seek out blogs in order to see what products are popular, using blogs actively as part of their research process. An additional 22.9% would look into a product recommended by one of their favourite bloggers. However, the largest portion of respondents, at 33.3%, maintain a healthy skepticism about bloggers promoting products, stating that if the post appears to be sponsored, they would actively ignore the recommendation. Some 29% of respondents stated they rarely read blogs - nearly triple the number of people who said they use blogs for the purpose of choosing what to buy.

What does this mean for brands who are increasingly turning to celebrities and influencers to help them build an audience of consumers?

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What Brands Think of Influencer Marketing

51% of marketers believe that influencer marketing helps them build stronger relationships with customers because people are more likely to trust the recommendations of people they respect. As Forbes said, “people no longer trust ads, but they do trust people. More accurately, they trust a voice of authority,” citing a study that found that influencer marketing returns $6.50 for every dollar invested.

How to Get it Right

On the surface, this may seem to contradict the findings of our survey, but the issue appears to be not that people do not trust bloggers as much as we think they do, and more that people are skeptical about clearly paid-for reviews and endorsements on blogs and social media platforms. One respondent commented, “I find that when loads of bloggers promote the same product at the same time, it turns me off.”

Where consumers can see a big push by a brand to get their products in front of a specific set of bloggers or influencers, the endorsements will come across as insincere.

Another respondent explained, “Blogger reviews are almost always positive towards the product so I take them with a pinch of salt.”

People trust the recommendations of authority figures when they feel those recommendations are objectively given, rather than bought. However, as any brand attempting to get word-of-mouth publicity on social media is aware, that word-of-mouth rarely comes for free, especially for new brands, clearly a catch-22.

This may sound disheartening, but, as with any form of marketing, brands need to think about the execution of influencer marketing campaigns.

For a new or unknown brand, getting products out there in front of people is the most logical course of action. Although some consumers are put off by seeing reviews of the same brand or set of products across multiple blogs, many are interested. Starting off an influencer campaign in this way allows you to build relationships with bloggers, finding which ones are amenable to your brand and learning which ones would be good to work with as you grow.

As a brand develops relationships with this new breed of celebrity influencer, it should consider more in-depth relationships, looking to build campaigns that are beneficial for both parties and that reflect less a brand paying a blogger to advertise its products, and more a relationship of mutual respect.

Build full campaigns around a single influencer, sharing content and promoting each other. For example, a brand might allow a Vlogger to take over its YouTube channel for a week, allowing some level of creative control over the content. In return the Vlogger might agree to endorse a particular range of products, including them in their videos and adding testimonials to the brand’s website and packaging. Or a brand might allow an influencer to help design a range of products in return for an agreement to do PR for a set length of time. The partnership might simply be an exchange of content with a Vlogger agreeing to do a Facebook Live broadcast in exchange for the brand promoting that Vlogger’s YouTube channel in its email newsletter and on its website.

While we have to accept that the public will always have a certain level of skepticism about marketing, if brands can forge genuine relationships with influencers who are genuinely excited about their products and services and give them something to talk about that they are proud of, then those word-of-mouth recommendations will resonate with the right audiences.

At I-COM, we work with many established and successful ‘influencers’ and have achieved great results and coverage for our clients products and services. If you’re looking to incorporate influencer marketing into your plans, please get in touch with our team on 0161 402 3170, or fill in our online contact form and we’ll be in touch.

Mindy

Mindy Gofton Head of Strategy & Innovation

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