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Is influencer marketing giving consumers what they want?

Danielle Harrod, Senior PR Executive

The author

Danielle Harrod

Senior PR Executive

How can you ensure your influencer marketing strategy reaches your desired target audience? What do consumers want to see from the influencers they engage with?

Influencer Intelligence recently conducted a study, revealing exactly what consumers think about influencer marketing, and we’ve done the hard work and rounded up some key takeaways below.

According to the report, today’s millennial generation (which in this case is labelled as individuals aged 18-34), are the most powerful group of consumers. Referred to as “the most important age range of economic activity” by economists, they’re at the age where buying a property, having a baby and spending disposable income on lifestyle items are all priorities. These factors all contribute to the prediction that the global millennial spending power is set to overtake that of generation X by 2020 - and given that nearly two thirds (61%) admit to their purchases being affected by social media influencers, they’re the people to target.

Marketers are starting to realise they need to take notice of a millennial’s preferences and habits when implementing their influencer marketing strategy. In fact, 60% of digital marketers admitted the purpose behind their influencer activity has shifted in the last year, with over half (56%) saying millennial’s rejection towards the way influencer marketing has been conducted over the last few years, is at the core of this change. More so than ever before, brands and influencers are having to think about the core generation’s demand for higher levels of authenticity and relevance.

Authenticity is critical

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of partnerships and endorsements that are simply created for the benefit of the brands and influencer rather than as a result of mutual interest or passion for the product - and they don’t like it.

The report showed that seven in 10 (70%) consumers think it’s important for influencers to have a natural affinity or interest in the brand they are promoting, as well as sharing their values. One particularly interesting break down of this data showed that UK respondents are nearly 80% more likely to not be bothered by this natural relationship than US respondents.

Overall 44% of consumers said authenticity was their greatest concern for influencer marketing, while 46% claimed content needed to be more engaging and authentic if they’re to trust influencer-led campaigns going forward.

It’s because of this faltering tolerance for forced partnerships that the authenticity, both of the partnerships and of the influencer themselves, has become such a concern for both marketers and consumers. More than one in three (37%) consumers said they feel troubled by the legitimacy of an influencer’s following, and this concern has led to agencies and brands making no fake followers a priority in their search for influencers.

It could be argued then, that this need for authenticity and organic associations, is the reason behind 79% of consumers preferring influencer content over celebrity ads and endorsements which are more likely to be about the paycheque above all else.

Bigger is not always better

It may seem that the best thing to do when working with influencers is to choose the ones with the biggest following, but as we know, that’s not the case - and consumers agree with us.

The report showed digital marketers think micro influencers (with 100k followers or less), are in highest demand, but that actually consumers prefer mid-tier influencers (with 100k-500k followers) (21%). This is mainly because 43% feel they are the best tier for engaging their audience and 36% believe the content is much more transparent.

Influencer marketing DOES lead to conversions

One of the hardest tasks for those working with influencers right now is proving just how many sales the activity has caused.

But while we wait for Instagram to revolutionise the way we track conversion rates, Influencer Intelligence’s report shows us that not only are 78% of consumers more likely to click on a product link endorsed by an influencer they follow, two fifths (41%) admit to using the opinions of influencers to make purchase decisions, and a quarter (28%) have clicked through and bought a product immediately after seeing an endorsement.

Consumers support the new regulations

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently enforced regulations that all influencers and celebrities must clarify if their content has been sponsored or gifted, using hashtags like #ad or #spon.

Some industry professionals are frustrated that this expectation is not also demanded from news publications, TV shows or filmmakers, as these too are promoting products and brands. So while 65% of marketers admit the line is blurry between organic recommendations and advertisements, many are concerned the need to be more transparent may damage the impact of the endorsement.

While 66% of consumers agreed that paid-for influencer activity is just the same as advertising, more than half (54%) said disclosing content is sponsored does not diminish its credibility. Instead,  43% of consumers said it’s harder to trust an influencers recommendations if there’s lack of clarity regarding the post being sponsored or not.

To find out more about how we can help with your influencer strategy, get in touch – we’d love to help.