The Rise of the Influencer

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Since the embarrassing Ryan Lochte scandal at the Rio Olympics this summer, the decline in celebrity endorsed brands has not only continued but become more understandable. What brand really wants to risk being the next victim of an affair or worse when they could have YouTubers and Instagrammers instead?

This year marks 25 years of public internet and though we are collectively more skeptical about buying online, 54% of us buy products online either weekly or monthly. 67% people say that either reading or writing social media reviews and comments influences their online shopping behaviour and, as a self confessed shopaholic receiving at least one package to the office a week, these stats speak to me.

I, like many other shoppers, find myself searching Twitter and YouTube for truthful reviews on both brands and products before reading what the site has to say for itself on whether I really do need a 9th lipstick in the shade ‘nude’.

As a millennial, I have grown up with constant access to the internet, the world at my fingertips; a world that with every new social platform gets smaller and smaller.

Shoppers are wiser, savvier and more dubious than ever (tweet this)

I can’t deny I pander to celebrity culture like a moth to a flame. But even I won’t take Beyoncé’s word for it when it comes to parting with my hard earned cash. For all that I would like to think I’m just like Queen Bey, there’s still a slight disconnect between us and I’m more likely to trust the opinion of the bloggers who look, and live, just like me.

Why has celebrity endorsement declined?

The decline of celebrity endorsement deals could be down to the way the world has changed. Being reckless and immoral has become more of an expectation of celebrities than a huge media scandal. Celebs behaving badly just isn’t shocking anymore and brands are therefore less willing to tie themselves to big names and be represented by high profile people who can behave so stupidly.

Celebrities with their masses of fans and followers are a perfect marketing tool, if they get it right… But all those eyes on you make a slip up all too easy and it can be seen by far too many people, far too fast.

Brands can no longer rely on the rich and famous to do one job and do it properly. Not just that but brands can choose to part ways with their endorsers due to colossal – let’s say ‘mess ups’ – it’s never a good idea to have someone who is constantly in the spotlight for controversial behaviour representing your brand when it stands for family values.

Do shoppers trust “everyday experts” more than celebs?

An influencer is an internet personality, a celebrity in their own right – they are people who have made a career out of vlogging/blogging. The benefit of influencers is that they are engaged with the community of the product or brand. They can be trusted because it’s not simply a face or a name that the market recognises and idolizes, they are  a specialist the public have  grown to love and trust.

Influencers are people who you can see have really tried and tested the product, people who you can not only relate to, but interact with. I’d love to have a chat with Gwen Stefani and find out what her favourite shades are from her latest Urban Decay palette, and which brush she’d recommend using…

But why waste my time when I can head to Zoella’s vlog? There I can see what she honestly had to say on it, and more likely get a tweet back from someone who’s not got a big fat fee to praise the brand.
According to SheKnows Media, women are more likely to trust influencers than celebrities. The research goes on to show that influencers do the best job of making women feel connected (almost 5 times better than celebrities) and relate to them much better than celebrities. In fact, the women felt least connected to celebrities out of all the categories they were presented with.

SheKnows media research table

To give you a real example:
Manchester based online retailer, Missguided have partnered with the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and Pamela Anderson but according to them their recent collaboration with American vlogger Carli Bybel, proved most successful.

Although we could say general brand growth could have played a part in this, it’s hard to ignore the outstanding ability for someone who’s made their name through online tutorials and reviews to be able to stand amongst and rival global super stars.

The numbers really speak for themselves.

Chart showing social followers

 

What can we predict for the future?

Celebrity endorsements will never die but the role of the celeb is changing. Brands need the support of big names to validate themselves, to show they can stand alongside brands bigger than themselves but they still need another way to connect with their customers

No one can deny knowing Kanye played part in the making of a shoes line will do big things for a brand.

But social media has changed the way we shop, and having no real brand ambassadors to show the average Joes, ‘look, these shoes really are great. I’ve been out and tried and tested and think someone who’s just like me needs a pair in their life too’ is missing a huge opportunity.

Instagram screenshot

Image: @sergiujurca (instagram)

This means brands need to find a celebrity to represent them, yes, but most importantly connect with these influencers who are already acting as a specialist to their market and send them freebies to honestly review – if your product is the real deal you’ll succeed.

Keep up the relationship with these influencers and you’re on the road to having life long brand ambassadors to support, represent and defend your brand and it’s products at a much cheaper and less risky cost to your company.

We asked Twitter who they were most influenced by when making a purchase.

Here are  the results:

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About Leah Bradburn

Leah just wishes that everyone could get along, like we used to in middle school. She wishes she could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy.

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