But as the influencer channel has grown, so inevitably have the challenges associated with it. While there is no doubt that influencers can have a positive impact on consumer brand perceptions, proving the ROI of influencers has been challenging. Reach and engagement metrics alone are insufficient in understanding the potential impact an influencer may have. Brands in regulated industries have been slated for what are assumed to be covert marketing tactics…not to name the multiple #failures of campaigns with celebrity and high-profile influencers.
So are influencer campaigns still worthwhile?
Over a third of us are seeing too much influencer-promoted content
Data from our 2020 DIMENSION study shows that over a third (36%) of consumers globally* agree that they see too much promotional content from influencers on social media. The figure is the same when we look at UK consumers.
For over half of us, it is key that commercial posts from influencers should be labelled
However, opinions are even starker when it comes to whether these posts should always be labelled so it’s clear they’re part of a paid collaboration with a brand (e.g. #ad). In the UK over half (54%) of consumers agree that such posts should be labelled in some way, while the figure globally was 45%.
If an influencer is not transparent, it’s the brand’s reputation that suffers
In particular, for brands targeting UK consumers it’s critical that the influencers they work with are open and transparent with their audiences in order to build trust and credibility – otherwise brands risk being tainted by association. This may be part in due to the UK’s stringent advertising regulations helping bring this to the attention of consumers; there have already been a number of high-profile instances of influencers being cautioned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)All this can cause a headache for marcomms leaders looking for authentic and engaging ways to entice consumer audiences.
As one industry leader – Pascale Azria, Executive Director, KingCom & President of SCRP – we spoke to as part of our DIMENSION 2020 study highlighted, “Influencers can’t create content or promote a brand successfully if they’re not honest with their audiences.”
Alignment with brand values increasingly more important than scale
In the same vein, Inmaculada De Benito, Director of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs for Iberostar reflected on how the use of influencers as a channel continues to evolve; “We’re progressively moving from influencers who have scale across social media to those who are aligned with our values.”
This is a critical point; the right influencer for the brand’s values is worth more than the number of followers an influencer might have. An alignment with brand values will also mean that the impact of influencer activity can be measured qualitatively by analyzing social media content engaging with influencer content to see whether it is helping shift consumer perceptions of the brand.
It is also worth remembering that influence is not just a numbers game. Scale isn't everything when it comes to influencer marketing. Influencers with smaller audiences are likely to yield greater engagement because of their affinity with the audience and shared interests.
Identifying the right influencers is key
Kantar has long recognized and advocated the importance of using multiple inputs to decipher influence and identify the right organic influencers. Our framework involves looking at a combination of quantitative (Reach, Activity) and qualitative (Resonance, Relevance) measures. The approach in the selection and evaluation of impact of influencer programes has to be systematic.
Kantar can support brands with all this measurement, helping you to ensure you achieve optimum results.
What’s clear is that despite the challenges, influencers can have a positive and measurable impact on brand and they’re here to stay.
You can read more about the impact of influencers on brands and on the impact of personalized communications on brand in our DIMENSION report.
*DIMENSION 2020 study conducted across 8 markets (Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Spain, UK, USA) on a representative sample of 8,000 connected consumers aged 18+. 37 industry leaders were also interviewed.