Are customers more loyal to brands or influencers?
Wise Marketer Staff
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from The Wise Marketer, a website and newsletter serving the global loyalty industry.
Influencers, in many ways, are like the mascots and corporate characters of marketing years gone by. A familiar face to latch on to, they create a personified voice through which to express brand messaging, cultivating a communication experience that is arguably more humanized.
Yet one of the most difficult balancing acts in all of marketing is trying to administer brand control while simultaneously giving influencers the freedom to generate authentic messaging. Almost half of all marketers feel they should have complete control over all written and visual communications within influencer content, according to a recent study from influencer marketing service Takumi.
Many (if not most) influencers also work with several brands simultaneously, and they alone are responsible for amassing a following, rallying their fans and creating their own brand, distinct from any sponsoring entity. Most will not even be considered for a partnership until these prerequisites have been reached. And the “better” the influencer, the more loyal and ardent the followers, but this loyalty is typically prioritized towards the influencer themselves.
The tension between loyalty for influencers and the brands that sponsor them is evidenced in the recent drama between beauty vlogger James Charles and colleague Tati Westbrook. Mr. Charles posted content featuring vitamin brand SugarBearHair, a direct competitor to Ms. Westbrook’s Halo Beauty. Ms. Westbrook decisively admonished Mr. Charles in a 43-minute confessional video, and her fans took retaliatory action by not only unfollowing but disavowing and disengaging from many of Mr. Charles’ associated brands.
Still, influencer marketing meets the fundamental conditions required for successful communication with customers. Information is coming from a trusted source, is packed with entertainment, is easy to access (given its digital nature) and is informative. Influencers also generate an organic call to action, creating demand just by amplifying an individual product.
Influencer marketing creates the opportunity for brands to engage in natural human conversations — but the strategy carries a high quotient of risk that must be managed.
As influencer marketing continues to proliferate, brands may find that without a significant reshaping of their tactical approach, the risks may outweigh the benefits in the pursuit of building long-term loyalty.
- Can Influencer Marketing Advance Loyalty? – The Wise Marketer
- The James Charles Drama Proves That Influencer Marketing Is Still the Wild West – Vanity Fair
- #BrandsGetReal: What consumers want from brands in a divided society – Sprout Social
- Trust deficit leaves half of marketers wanting complete control of influencer marketing posts – The Drum
- Influencer Nation: 86% of Young Americans Want to Become One – Bloomberg
- What Will Influencer Marketing Look Like in 2020? – HubSpot
- The Shocking ROI of Influencer Marketing – Convince&Convert
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see major conflicts between the tendency for influencers to support themselves vs. their associated brands? Are their simple steps that can be taken to reduce the related risks while seeking to capitalize on their increasing influence?