Starting in 2009, influencers revolutionized the digital advertising world. In a time when brands were losing credibility, influencers managed to capture their followers’ interest by sharing social media content in which they talked about their experiences and recommendations for clothing, travel, food, etc. Little by little, influencers started to play the leading role in all kinds of advertising campaings.
Initially, influencers presented themselves as everyday people who shared moments of their lives on social media, which they used to connect with their followers. When they shared their reviews on a range of topics, they were well received because people perceived them as authentic and sincere. A recent study by Collective Bias revealed that 70% of consumer purchasing decisions are based on recommendations by people they consider to be their equals. This was the basis of influencers’ acceptance, to the point that brands began to see them as an area of opportunity.
“According to an eMarketer report, 71% of professionals believe influencer marketing can help drive brand awareness. And 67% of marketing specialists believe it helps them reach niche markets,” says Merca 2.0. These days, many companies compete with one another to convince an influencer to be their brand’s image. However, it would seem influencers have lost some of their… well, influence. Why?
For users, transparency and trust continue to be key factors when choosing a brand. The fact that there has been a proliferation of influencers who openly agree to promote a brand in exchange for money has meant users have lost their trust in them. A study carried out by Datum revealed that influencer recommendations for brands and products no longer have the same intense impact on consumer decisions: at least 61% of their followers disregard their recommendations, and of that, 32% don’t even take them into account.
Despite this, influencer marketing continues to be one of the favored tools used by brands. But the strategy evolves: now it is micro influencers (those with fewer than 100k followers) whose profiles excel. These are people who focus on smaller specialized niches, meaning they achieve higher engagement. Their followers trust them because they see them as people who are experienced in their specific topic of interest but do not yet consider them to be celebrities who have “sold out” to brands.
Companies should do their homework and evaluate an influencer’s stated opinions before choosing them to represent their brand. It is important to find those who have already shared their values and commitments to their followers, and that these, in turn, align with those of the company. Congruence is crucial if the brand wants to win over consumer trust.