The defining elements of influencer marketing are credibility and trust but when this exercise itself suffers its own integrity issues, it’s a wakeup call that needs immediate attention. Mark Zuckerberg had famously described trusted referral as “the holy grail of advertising” while speaking about the scope that Facebook offered, as a social platform.
After all, it’s word-of-mouth exchanged by groups of people sharing many similarities and these conversations are based on a certain degree of trust. When a particular product manages to penetrate into this circle and gets recommended by some people here, it gains endorsement which is many times more powerful than paid advertising. In the era of social media, such influencer marketing can be done at scale at a much lower cost than and with amazing results.
Unfortunately, influencer marketing itself, hasn’t been able to resist the more elementary approach of paid advertising, which is threatening to destroy its credentials and turning it into another paid reach vehicle. Getting celebrities and other famous personalities to endorse products on their individual social media handles is a good strategy if done transparently but the problem is, this doesn’t usually happen. Now this isn’t a bad strategy for building awareness but it has its limitations when it comes to determining consideration and intent along with some other key aspects of the purchase funnel. This isn’t how marketers should utilize influencer marketing as it has a lot more potential.
Marketers need to identify their best endorsers on social sites, especially folks who love their products and the value proposition they offer. Such folks are actually the influencers and over a period of time they develop a certain level of expertise in analyzing the value that certain products offer. They don’t speak out of turn and reserve their opinion for those who are really curious about the product they have used for years and appreciate their experience and depth of knowledge about the product. These are the kinds of people who love to share a good experience and are passionate about spreading the good word among people they know.