THE DARK SIDE OF INFLUENCER MARKETING
2017 is going to be the year of influencer marketing, although it already has been popular in 2016. To some this may seem like something new in the marketing world, but it's definitely been around for years. Think about how many times you've seen a large company sponsor a celebrity. Basically in 2017, it's going to be sponsoring well known people on the internet. Internet celebrities. You know..the people with 100,000+ followers.
If you haven't already noticed all over social media, brands are flocking to influencers (people with a large following) to promote their products. To some, it feels like an icky way to promote a company because you are essentially paying popular people to say stuff about your products, wether they even use the products or not. People can see right through it, and one thing I feel like companies don't realize is that sometimes they can unintentionally treat customers and their audience like they are stupid. There seems to be a ton of 'tricks' to get people to buy your stuff. I see it all the time! I don't feel like people should be tricked into buying something.
After our recent reader survey, we discovered that a lot of others feel the same. People are tired of seeing sponsored content that is not sincere, genuine, or real. I don't know about you, but when I see a company going above and beyond to make people happy, do good in the world, or connect with their audience. It makes me want to buy their stuff. I could care less if some popular person tells me it's cool.
The big disadvantage here is that you lose quality and authenticity. I truly believe it is better to share stories that matter, that make a difference in someones life, or that people can relate to.
Now, i'm not saying all influencers are bad. I do think it can be an effective way to promote your business and its products, especially if they create great content. I'm just saying, if you are going to pay someone to talk about your products, share photos, and influence their audience. You should probably make sure that person is already a huge fan of yours, can provide interesting and unique content, are professional, and that they actually have engaging conversations with people.
Numbers don't matter, and sometimes someone with 1000 followers can have much more engagement and fans, than the person with 700,000. It's hard to even tell if those numbers are realistic, because you can easily buy your followers. Instagram is FULL of bots commenting on photos and it can be hard to decipher wether that person really has an active engaged following that they can truly influence. I think in order to consider an influencer you must act as if they are someone you would hire to work for your company.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD
I believe there is nothing more genuine and sincere than who you already are.
So, instead of paying someone to talk about your brand because you sent them free stuff, think about the people that already love your brand as it is. Think about what you can do to connect with your audience with your mission and values instead of your actual products or services. They always say, it's better to sell the outcome and lifestyle of your product..than it is to sell the actual product.
I think if we start focusing on our business values more than the money/outcome, then we can create genuine connections with people. You can think of them as not only your customers, but real people that support what you do, kind of similar to building a friendship.
COMPANIES that ARE DOING IT RIGHT.
REI has done an amazing job at focusing on creating meaningful marketing campaigns by focusing on their values. If you haven't noticed their #optoutside campaign you should check it out. REI took a risk in the industry and decided to close their doors on black Friday. Why? Because the values behind REI as a company were more important than driving sales. It was about giving people the day off to join their family and spend time in the great outdoors, because ultimately REI is a company that loves the outdoors.
By focusing more on their values and their people, it helped them reinforce their brand and in the long run it encouraged more people to sign up for their memberships and shop at their stores. The fact that the campaign wasn't solely a mission to drive more sales made their audience love them even more.
Another favorite company of ours did something a little different. Patagonia decided that on black Friday they would donate every single penny they made in retail stores and online, to nonprofits working to protect the air, water, and soil. Basically they decided to donate money to saving the earth.
Patagonia cared more about their values and the difference they can make in the world, which ultimately led to record breaking sales on black Friday. People became fans of them because of what they do, not for the products they sell.
So, I think our lesson here is summed up into one sentence.
Figure out what you care about, and what your values are..and then create a campaign that supports that idea. This will ultimately lead to strengthening your brand, and create loyal customers that love you.
And, last but not least..to support you in figuring out a new way to market your business, we've created a simple worksheet for you to discover your values, jot down your ideas, and generate ideas for a value driven marketing campaign.
FREE DOWNLOAD – VALUE DRIVEN MARKETING CAMPAIGN WORKSHEET
This worksheet will help you generate ideas for how your business can create campaigns that are based off of your values & purpose.. Drop in your email below + we'll send it to you.