How Social Influencers Are Changing The Game for Marketing

influencer marketing

Marketing a brand or product above the general digital noise of can prove to be a bit tricky for some businesses, with the demand to ‘go viral’ and be the ‘next big thing’ all too often becoming the focus of many marketing campaigns. At our recent #ProductTalk event on growth hacking, we were fortunate to have a representative from a new breed of marketing agency,  called Influencer, who focus solely on building reputable relationships between credible brands and  influencers. Founded by one of the most famous British YouTube stars, Casper Lee, Influencer is one of the first agencies of its kind in the UK, to use a new hybrid of marketing to engage new audiences across social media channels by pairing the right influencer with a reputable brand, with the result being a very high-conversion rates and increasing sales. They call it influencer marketing

In his presentation (see here), Influencer Sales Director Ryan McKinnia, touched upon why influencer marketing has taken product promotion by storm and how their agency looks to use insight and research to place the right influencer with the right products. As well as giving some exclusive tips on how to be great at influencer marketing, Ryan also gives some great examples of where it has not quite worked out. We explore this new hybrid of marketing and what the ‘ hack’ elements are to running a successful influencer marketing campaign.

What is an Influencer?


As described by Ryan, a social media influencer, also known as a creator,  is someone who has a strong online presence, usually measured by high follower numbers on social channels such as YouTube and Instagram. They are often considered in the influencer industry as being ‘key opinion leaders’ as they hold a certain sway over purchase decisions of their audience due to their knowledge or enthusiasm on products or services. They grow their channels organically from creating engaging, click-worthy content and strive to gain the elusive blue ticks for their channels once they reach a certain number of following and engagement on their posts. They are ‘average Joe’s’- not particularly famous for doing anything else other than posting regularly online. Their success seemingly relies on being authentic, relatable and real. By allowing their followers into their lives via video streaming, and sharing every corner, influencers become familiar to their audiences and quickly build a trustworthy persona.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing strategies, adopting the idea that personal endorsements create high-impact conversions for brands who choose to partner with appropriate and well-matched influencers. Sounds simple, right? However, there is a lot of research, insights and other elements that are considered, with the overarching success of the campaign ultimately relying on a strong collaboration between brand and influencer. The ‘hack’ element to this approach of marketing relies on the relationship between product/ brand and person being trustworthy and believable. Successful influencer marketing relies on the relationship over a longer period of time with consumers, using ‘everyday’ people they follow on social media channels such as Instagram.

Using Celebrities Simply Doesn’t Cut it Anymore

From Kylie Jenner promoting Pepsi, to the latest TOWIE star advertising fad diet shake, celebrities from A to Z list have been adding #spon and #Ad to their posts since Instagram introduced advertising guidelines. However, most of the time the products these celebrities are advertising are usually not that reputable and simply don’t resonate with the majority of their audiences online. As Ryan mentions,  it’s important to remember celebs are not influencers. In his talk,  touches on a great example of footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, who naturally has lots of followers- 170 million to be exact- and often relies on his heavy social presence to promote questionably reputable products such as Sixpad; a product that claims to transform your body to having a rippling 6 pack just by using some electronic pads. There are hundreds more examples of these rather dubious pairings which is possibly where the air of skepticism from the marketing industry comes from, with this new concept of advertising. Influencer marketing appears to have far more authenticism as popular social media personalities hold far more klout on channels that brands want to target reaching new audiences that some brands may not have before.  Take Mrs Hinch and her army for example, her constant use of particular sponges and various cleaning ‘hacks’ have seen sales for a certain spong hit 5 times its RRP. Any number of celebrities can share their love of cleaning or running but it doesn’t spike the sales of certain trainers or mops in the same way a 29-year-old woman from Essex has. Growing a credible presence online is part of any successful brands’ journey and by tapping into an already captive audience, by using social media stars, there is far more potential for the brand to become the next ‘must-have’ thing.

Perhaps the most famous example of when a campaign using only celebrities to promote a product went spectacularly wrong was the elusive Fyre festival. This mystical event started to spark interest on Instagram by using glamorous promotion videos featuring the world’s most famous supermodels including Kendal Jenner and Bella Hadid, partying on a yacht and private island.  Fyre Festival was a concept festival, creating a buzz online with using vague hashtags and engaging content to entice viewers to buy tickets for the non existent festival, marketed as ‘the most luxurious festival on a deserted island’. Generating ticket sales was no problem, despite the astronomical prices,  it was only when logistics started to fail that the creators Billy McFarlan and Jarule became a victim of their own campaign with the festival making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Where does the growth hack element to using influencer marketing happen?

With a massive 94% of businesses identifying influencer marketing as having helped grow their brand, it’s no surprise that it’s become the fastest growing customer acquisition method. Whilst trust is the overriding hack with influencer marketing, without a certain level of trust built between a social influencer and their captive audience, any kind of promotional post will appear inauthentic and have the opposite effect. The growth hack element comes into play for this marketing approach with the perfect match of social influencer, a solid level of trust between them and their audience and a viable product that seemingly suits the individual brand. And it seems there are a few other factors that will affect the success of your influencer marketing efforts. A study looking at the impact of YouTube on influencing people and it showed a surprising difference between men and women converting, with over 22% of men being influenced by promotional content compared to just 14% of women. This is perhaps a surprising statistic due to the number of make-up and beauty influencers that use YouTube to promote products.

 Ultimately, if a brand chooses the right person and the most appropriate social channel to promote, their audiences are far more captivated and are more likely to believe in it themselves. Growing a credible presence online is part of any successful brands’ journey and by tapping into an already captive audience, by using social media stars, there is far more potential for the brand to become the next ‘must-have’ thing. If you’re looking for some creative ways to help grow your business, check out our approach to helping out clients, using disruptive techniques to help nurture growth and increase reach in their desired channels.

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Nicci Wright