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UK Insights

How can you influence with confidence?

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Social 30.01.2019 / 11:00

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Both brands and consumers face struggles in the new world of social influencers – who to trust.

As not one but two documentaries hit the screens recently to commemorate the failings of Fyre Festival, the role and responsibility of social media influencers has been up for analysis by the press and public.

The music festival may have bombed, but some commentators are noting that it does prove the efficacy of using social influencers for promotions – a burgeoning but tricky-to-navigate trend in marketing. Ultimately, hundreds of people turned up to an island for a party that had not much going for it other than (bought) celebrity endorsement. For brands that CAN deliver on their promise, the opportunity is large. 

One of our Media Predictions for 2019 was that brands will migrate investment from mega-celebrities to micro-influencers: people who are experts in a niche topic, with less reach but more engagement and credibility.

Our AdReaction studies have shown that consumers are less and less impressed by digital marketing messages – a negative response to ads, and a predilection for ad blockers, is particularly prevalent amongst younder audiences. Finding new and less intrusive touchpoints is key.

As Agustina Servente, Innovation Director Kantar Argentina, & Karina Kuczynski, Media and Digital Director Kantar Argentina, stated in the 2019 Media Predictions report: “influencers continue to gain followers and so maintain a lively business recommending brands and products… They’ve turned into celebrities but as a result their credibility has been compromised, and transparency hasn’t always been obvious.”

Servente and Kuczynski also note that “the successful micro-influencers will be the ones who offer relevant content, with high quality aesthetics ands and meet their followers’ needs: entertainment or new information.” They note that Brand Lift Insights studies by Kantar have shown the effectiveness of micro-influencers, when the content is appropriate and in line with both brand values and the ‘DNA’ of the influencer. That DNA is something influencers must nurture, not only to convey an authentic tone and keep their audience happy, but also to help brands easily identify which micro influencers are worth approaching. “As micro-influencers have a genuine and specific profile, it will be easier for brands to associate with them – and the other way around.”

Credibility is key. If you are an avid or even casual user of Instagram, you may have noticed lately that lots of ‘influencers’ (of all levels) have been posting about the CMA guidelines, last updated in September 2018 but recently brought to light again with the news that 16 prominent influencers, including Rita Ora and Millie Mackintosh, had ‘agreed’ to be more transparent in their posts about when they have been paid or given gifts in the future.

Influencer Comment

While consumers can be misled by the non-disclosure of their favourite actors or singers regarding their love for a product, brands and consumers alike can also be fooled by another phenomenon: faking influence. Some social media users are now actually making their posts appear ‘sponsored’ or affiliated with a brand, to give them credibility beyond their follower numbers or engagement rates, and make them appear cool.

And it goes further still. Artificial Intelligence AI has come on leaps and bounds, now acting as a ‘user’ on social channels – yup, we could be talking next about whether we put our trust in a non-human influencer.

All the confusion does make measurement of results more important than ever; something Coolio Yang, Kantar China, believes marketers will start to learn from the Chinese model, where paid and earned use of social media is thriving. As he noted in the 2019 Media Predictions, “Marketers will turn to China to understand how social media can use new technologies to develop trusted and richer experiences.” He notes that technology is allowing users to become quality controllers, helping other fans and of course brands in the quest for authenticity and reliability.

“As influencer marketing grows in importance and spend, it needs to earn its place at the marketing table,” says Jane Ostler, Global Head of Media for Kantar. “Firstly, influencers have to prove they can be trusted. Secondly, influencer marketing needs to demonstrate its effectiveness and brand impact alongside other media channels.”

Source : Kantar

Editor's Notes

Read Kantar's Media Predictions for 2019 here. 

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