Why influencers have divided the media and marketing industry

Written by
Nathan Ruff CEO Hoozu
for Mumbrella

I enjoy the cut and thrust of a good marketing conversation just as much as the next person. There’s nothing like dissecting the merits and misses of a good or bad creative strategy, or media plan, especially over a nice bottle of red. The trending conversation of late and ongoing question I’m still trying to figure out is: “why is influencer marketing so maligned?”

Over the last few months, the uproar surrounding government mandating, bashing by shock jocks, and tabloid newspaper headlines hasn’t deterred growth or brand activity from advertisers. But it has caused confusion for brands, influencers and the media partners we work with.

Blanketed bashing of the sector is wrong, but not unexpected. Media outlets take the moral high ground, judging influencers as sell-outs and self-serving fakes who lack editorial control. It feels a little hypocritical coming from an industry that introduced the world to bots, click bait and native advertising. However, publishing is a highly competitive market and newsrooms aren’t cheap to run. I understand you’re all a little annoyed having those little fit upstarts called “influencers” syphoning ad revenue from your depleting coffers.

For the past 24 months, influencer marketers have been labelled the problem, with the cries for transparency getting louder and louder. The accusatory tone has burdened the reputation of the majority of brand advocates doing the right thing. The attack is obsolete given there are products available and businesses in market that can easily qualify, quantify, authenticate, and analyse an influencer’s audience, content profile, and content performance.

Nearly all the influencers we work with are now contractually required to deliver on minimum benchmarks such as sales, leads and views. Additionally, Facebook has been leading the charge in reducing questionable behaviour and applying strict guidelines to deter anyone trying to cheat. Lastly, this is ultimately enforced by paying advertisers who expect an ROI, or they will not continue to use the form or book the influencers again.

Advertisers

The Australian advertising industry baffles me at the best of times. There seems to be a very conservative approach and status quo to avoid new formats until all old forms have completely failed.

Influencer marketing is undeniably an important part of the marketing mix for our brands. Influencers understand that social media is how their customers ingest information, communicate and research purchasing decisions.

Social audiences follow like-minded people and are interested in the style and type of content they produce, some of which is branded. It also avoids ad blocking, capitalises on two-way communication, uncovers sale generating advocates, and when done right adds genuine value through authentic and entertaining content.

So why all the hate?

I understand there will always a push back when new players join the game. I appreciate the view and perspectives from all camps. I’ve seen multiple advertising forms come and go – all of which were going to be the next big thing – but I’ve never seen a format that has been so polarising.

View Mumbrella article here https://bit.ly/2z5GD10

Influencers must remember what the word influence actually means

Written by
Analise Trotter

Sept 7th, 2018

Leave your petty squabbles at the door as HooZu head of talent, Analise Trotter, discusses the implied social contract influencers have with their followers – and their advertisers

Let’s talk about the word ‘influencer’. Forget about the popular use of the word claimed by social media users, and instead let’s focus on the literal meaning.

An influencer is someone who has the power to affect other peoples’ behaviour. This can be anyone from a parent or a teacher through to celebrities, athletes, and world leaders.

There’s an implied social contract that holds influential people to a higher standard. A certain subset of the population has put them up on a pedestal and this means that, as much as possible, their behaviour needs to be impeccable.

While it’s all well and good for Joe Bloggs down the road to get blotto over the weekend, misplace a shoe (along with his dignity), and pass out in a pool of his own body fluids, the same kind of behaviour from someone influential would result in media headlines and a generous helping of moral outrage from the scandalised community.

As often quoted from Spiderman: with great power comes great responsibility.

This applies to influencers just as much as it does to anyone else in the public spotlight. Being an influencer is a position of privilege, and it comes with a responsibility to act in a way that’s beyond reproach. You can’t reap the rewards of being able to command thousands of dollars per brand mention without paying the toll of intense public scrutiny.

Which is why a recent beauty vlogger feud had me grinding my teeth. The finer details aren’t important, but it essentially consisted of a bunch of YouTube influencers exercising incredibly poor judgment in a public forum. Words were said, insults were exchanged, and fans ultimately got involved, with the entire debacle degenerating into the online equivalent of a primary school squabble, an upper house question time (or an especially good episode of Real Housewives).

It’s worth mentioning that all of the parties involved command significant influence within their community. One of the YouTubers has more fans than the entire population of Hong Kong. That’s a hell of a lot of people who are susceptible to the things he says and the way he conducts himself.

There are consequences to behaving badly when you’re in the public eye. In this case, two of the main instigators lost hundreds of thousands of followers as well as significant endorsement, branding, and partnership deals. The flip side to being famous is that everything you do is scrutinised to the nth degree, and this is an example of influencers failing to comprehend the significance of their power.

So what does this mean for brands that work with influencers? There are two main takeaways. One of the lessons is that the character of the personalities that brands work with is just as important (if not more so) as the number of followers they have and the level of engagement their content receives.

Brands should look to work with influencers who are respectful of the social contract they have tacitly agreed to; individuals who conduct themselves in a way that’s worthy of admiration. This means brands need to do their due diligence via background checks and audits of their social media channels, checking that the content, tone, and language of their posts meet a minimum required standard. This is not just for their most recent posts, but their entire online history, which may reveal racist, sexist, homophobic, or other derogatory slurs lurking within their digital footprint.It should go without saying, but if an influencer has built-up a following of half a million fans by creating click bait videos that trash talk other influencers (and yes, these exist), then this is probably not a personality that brands should be associating themselves with.

Increasingly, consumers want to purchase products and services from brands that demonstrate positive values and contribute to the community, and this expectation extends to any of the public-facing personalities that the brand aligns with.

But brands are also in a position to enforce acceptable standards for influencers. Nothing makes naughty children behave better than threatening to cut off their pocket money, and the same can be done for influencers. You can bet that the YouTubers involved in the aforementioned episode are now far less likely to be a poor example to their impressionable followers after several lucrative endorsement deals were pulled as a direct consequence.

Influencers need to be held accountable for their behaviour – much like any other influential personality – and brands can help to enforce this social contract by taking their money elsewhere when the influencers they work with behave badly. These YouTubers learned the hard way that acting inappropriately was a sure-fire way to fall from grace – and hopefully other prominent influencers heed that lesson accordingly.

To see published article here