How Influencers Have Transformed Modern Marketing

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Modern marketing is in a state of transformation. Big brands are abandoning their old ways in favor of influencer marketing, a trend that entices consumers to take action through the use of storytelling and value-driven appeal. These days, brands that are serious about success use influencer marketing tactics to target an audience that’s already interested in the influencer’s story. As such, influencer marketing is, in many ways, a smarter, more targeted endorsement marketing strategy that makes use of an organic, common-man-type-of-fame.

History of Influencer Marketing

During the “Mad Men” era of marketing in the 1950’s and 1960’s, charismatic characters like Coca Cola’s version of Santa Claus charmed consumers into buying their products by creating positive feelings that consumers paired with the brand. This marketing strategy dominated until the 1980’s when consumer response to fictional feel-good characters and brands dropped off and big brands sought out new methods to grab the attention of consumers. As television and radio became widely available, consumers tuned in and that led to the development of a new type of marketing: Celebrity Endorsement Marketing. 

Celebrity Endorsement Marketing is a type of advertising that’s been in use since the 1700’s, but it didn’t become mainstream until the 1980’s. This marketing strategy conditions consumers to pair positive emotions with a brand which is similar to the conditioning that happens when a fictional character is created to represent a brand. But celebrity endorsement works by positioning celebrities as opinion leaders, which gives force to a brand’s message.  And celebrities naturally grab the public’s attention (think Michael Jackson and the Pepsi Generation campaign, for example). The development of Celebrity Endorsement Marketing took things in an entirely new direction and the business world immediately realized the power of real people to create interest in a brand.
The endorsement model became the most popular way to gain rapport with a consumer until the Internet and social media took their places on the world stage, changing the course of marketing forever. These new media tools magically transformed generic consumers into human beings with values. As a result, consumer-oriented marketing strategies developed a new, more sophisticated layer that took value-centered marketing strategies into account. As the Internet leveled the playing field and made it possible for anyone to voice their thoughts and opinions, influencers took their place in the history of marketing.

Influencers are similar to celebrities in that they have fans and a large group of followers. But influencers are different in that they’re opinion leaders who are regarded more or less as experts on the products they endorse. They could be anyone and they could be anywhere. For example, Fiji water commissioned Danielle Bernstein of @weworewhat, to endorse their product during her workout videos. Bernstein is micro-influencer, but the campaign did generate a buzz online and both she and the Fiji water brand benefitted from the arrangement.

Today, celebrities may act as influencers even though influencers are not always celebrities. Rather, influencers can also be average people who have a large social media following because of their skill at creating entertaining, informative, or otherwise valuable content. Endorsement by influencers allows companies like Fiji water to target consumers who have values that are similar to those held by the influencer. People who follow the influencer share the influencer’s values and feel compelled to purchase the products he or she endorses.

How Influencers Have Changed Modern Marketing

Modern marketing thus has changed direction. Marketers need to create strategic campaigns that not only condition consumers to feel positively toward the brand, but that also appeal to the consumer’s specific value systems. And one of the best ways to do this is to seek out one or more influencers to support the brand. For example, back in 2006, SprintNextel created a TV marketing campaign with Ron Livingston (from the movie Office Space) to positively condition consumers to purchase a SprintNextel plan. But fast forward to 2018 and this same company is investing heavily into influencers including average people who have a huge social media following as well as celebrities

Incorporating Influencers Into Your Marketing Program

Modern brands need to acknowledge the new developments in marketing and take action because the average consumer doesn’t trust the ads they see online and on TV and nearly a third of today’s consumers block ads anyway. The average consumer is no longer interested in advertisements. Rather, they’re interested in stories. And one of the most powerful ways to tell a story that incorporates your product into it is to tell a tale through the eyes of a social media influencer.

Most brands benefit from bringing a social media influencer into a marketing campaign. After you’ve found influencers who fit your brand image, brainstorm on ways to incorporate the influencer into your campaign. Do a giveaway or create a competition with influencers as hosts. Contact influencers to ask them to host a giveaway, just check the laws and regulations regarding giveaways to make sure you’re following the rules. Come up with a plan that will benefit all parties involved including the influencer, the consumer, and of course your brand.

Make relationships with influencers. Many of them will only endorse brands they truly love and trust. If your brand ranks high with an influencer, you’ll inevitably score some attention on social media as a result. Approach the relationship in a collaborative way from the very beginning and strive to create a strong long-term relationship using GRIN software that can help you manage the influencer marketing process from end-to-end. Influencers add precision and depth to a marketing campaign, so it’s worth the time and effort to find the right ones to bring success to your brand.

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