Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing Strategies

Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing Strategies

Each Friday, the Commexis blog features a post from one of our experts about a trending topic in digital marketing. This week, Phillip Brooks, our digital and creative strategist looks at the pitfalls and advantages of influencer marketing strategy.

Influencer marketing platform Linqia recently released a study that analyzes how influencer marketing is being used by today’s marketers. According to the data found in their report, 86 percent of marketers today are employing influencer marketing strategies as part of their overall marketing plans.

That’s a pretty overwhelming mandate for a strategy that many companies don’t fully understand.

Bloggers and other influencers are the third-most-consulted consumer decision tool for shoppers.

And the rise of influencer culture comes at the detriment of brand power. Today’s consumers are more likely to trust influencers than branded content.

A 2014 study by Harris Interactive quoted in Adweek showed that “92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they don’t know, over branded content.”

So, what exactly, is “influencer marketing?”Influencer Marketing - Commexis

Influencer marketing shifts the focus from content produced by your marketing department or agency partner directly to content from key influencer in your chosen marketplace. By pairing with influencers in each vertical or market, a brand can co-opt the influencer’s personal reach into an amplification platform for their own messaging.

Influencer marketing is often confused with word-of-mouth and advocate marketing.

Influencer versus word-of-mouth marketing

There are two key differences between word-of-mouth marketing and influencer marketing: compensation and reach.

In influencer marketing, the influencer has monetized his or her audience by placing a value on the total engaged followers her or she can reach.

Whereas in the case of word-of-mouth marketing, the individuals promoting the brand are not necessarily leaders in a marketplace, but rather uncompensated individuals promoting the brand via their own personal channels.

That’s not to say that word-of-mouth marketing has no value. Reviews by individuals can have a strong aggregate effect on brand capital. But compared to the reach of a compensated influencer that review is a single voice against a deluge of engaged followers.

Influencer versus advocate marketing

Advocate (also known as affiliate) marketing empowers customers as evangelists for your brand to spread your message everywhere. By providing these advocates with branded materials, coupon codes, free access, or other materials of perceived value, you create an “army” of energized followers.

Compensation is also a key component of the advocate model. Advocate marketing generally eschews the pay-for-play model employed in influencer marketing by rewarding advocates for gathering leads into your sales funnel. These affiliates generally receive a small percentage of the sales for that item or product in exchange for their advocacy.

Advantages of influencer marketing: Cost and Return on Investment (ROI.)

Much is made of the ROI benefits of influencer marketing. The creation of branded content by an influencer is often baked into the price you pay, making the price seem more reasonable. This makes the model especially efficient, but that number usually omits that an agency or internal marketing department has already created your brand book and/or messaging. Remember to factor that into any savings promised by an influencer marketing strategy.

Advantages of influencer marketing: Organic Reach

Influencer marketing, by its nature creates reach organically. Because the amplification of the content is due to the influencer promoting it via their own channels, the end user adopts the content organically. That said, should the influencer then use paid means to boost that messaging, it would exponentially improve the reach of the content beyond the organic.

Advantages of influencer marketing: Relevance

Experts believe that by relying upon influencers to generate content, they’re getting content that is relevant to their target audience created by a voice that has already earned trust in the marketplace. By utilizing the influencer to create content, it implies a tacit approval of the brand product by the influencer, which ideally is passed on to his or her followers in the form of brand engagement.

Advantages of influencer marketing: Authenticity

Consumers are drawn to voices that exude authenticity. If someone speaks from a position of authority or has been established in a vertical as a thought leader, consumers are more likely to trust that person as an authority on the topic.

Seventy-two percent of marketers choose to work with influencers because of that authenticity. It’s something that cannot be faked and is often a hard-won piece of social capital. Users can sniff out a fake from miles away.

Advantages of influencer marketing: Engagement

Finally, the audiences related to influencers are engaged. Some influencers inspire thousands of likes and shares for even the most innocuous of postings. The inherent value of that kind of engagement cannot be overstated. The potential reach of shared content with an engaged influencer is dramatic and while it is unlikely for such content to go “viral” the potential is there.

Linqia Influencer Marketing Report Data

Courtesy: Linqia

Potential disadvantages of influencer marketing: Niche pricing

A crowded niche could mean competition not only among brands but also among influencers, as well. A bidding war could develop for brand association in that scenario, driving the potential cost of the campaign up.

Potential disadvantages of influencer marketing: Aligning with the wrong influencer

For risk-averse clients, an influencer strategy may prove to be more than they’re willing to take on.

What if the influencer with which you’ve aligned yourself proves to have a hidden past or secret? What if their authority on the topic or space isn’t backed up by their credentials? What if the influencer overstates or inflates his or her follower counts through artificial means?

These just some of the potential pitfalls you could face when dealing with an online persona.

Potential disadvantages of influencer marketing: Internet volatility

The internet is a fickle place, so too are its denizens. What is popular today could be an “EPIC FAIL” meme tomorrow. Be sure that the influencers with whom you align your brand are as insulated from that volatility as possible. Be sure to check and double-check their online presence for potential problems that could surface later.

Putting all your marketing eggs in a single basket could result in a death spiral wherein your brand accompanies the influencer on their fall-from-grace.

Ask Subway how that relationship with Jared worked out in the end.

Should my brand be doing influencer marketing?

The infuriatingly glib answer is, “It depends.” There are many factors to consider before embarking on an influencer marketing campaign. Be sure to discuss it with your marketing partners and fully weigh the pros and cons. Commexis’ branding experts will be happy to entertain all of your questions about influencer marketing as well as other methodologies. Give us a call today!

Phillip Brooks is Commexis’ creative and digital strategist. He has engineered content marketing strategies for hundreds of clients, including Electronic Arts, Turner Broadcasting and The Bancorp.

Join the Commexis mailing list

Recent Posts