It's no secret the marketing industry is always changing. To highlight some of the changes and issues we see on the horizon we present our Industry Mix series, where we challenge marketers to look and think about the road ahead.
In this episode, Reid explores the concept of influencers, the difference between micro-influencers and macro-influencers, and how he thinks the landscape will change in the near future.
Reid: This is always kind of a fun episode to talk, just riff on something I had been thinking about and not necessarily have a solution, but something that I want certainly our clients or any marketers to think about because, yeah, I mean, the space is going to be changing quite a bit.
Influencers in the Present
Influencers are something that people are always talking about, something that they want to fold into their marketing tactics, into their plan. Something to think about right now is what we're experiencing in that space. So, you've got a lot of people saying, "Hey, I'm going to invest in influencers, see what they're doing with our brand or give them our brand and get them into the hands of their many followers."
Changes to Come
But what I think is going to change right now, and I want people to start thinking about this, is the demographic, the kids growing up these days who are saying, "Hey, I want things that are real," and then at the same time as we're driving down the highway or at really beautiful locations, we're seeing all these, you know, Instagram models out there taking selfies, taking 15 versions of it to make sure it looks perfect. We know that that's not real. I think all of us know that it's not real, and certainly the generations coming up behind us know it's not real.
Micro-Influencers vs. Macro-Influencers
So, what I think is going to happen over the next 18 months or so is I believe the micro-influencer is still going to be a factor, a micro-influencer meaning somebody who knows you, your friends. Your friend is going to always influence you and say, "Hey, I know you. I think you might like this particular product, because I know you." Then I think you go down to the ends of the spectrum. Then you have the influencers that I think people are really trying to work with today, brands are trying to work with today, who want them to create content, they want them to take photos, use their product in all of that. No one, I believe, really believes those people at this point. I certainly think that they might like their photos. They may think that they're great. At the end of the day, they become just ads and not necessarily those that are trusted.
On the other end of the spectrum is you have the macro-influencers, which a long time ago this existed with, the doctor out there with Marlboro cigarettes saying, "You should try these." We know that was kind of BS. Then you go farther out in the end of the spectrum, the Ryan Reynolds of the world with his Aviation Gin, George Clooney with his Casamigos. We know what that is. We know they're schlepping a product that they're going to make a lot of money on, because people like them, their personality, or whatever that may be. So, those are going to continue to exist. I think everyone just sort of gets where they're coming from and the relationship you have with that character is because you like their movies or whatever it is, and you'll still feel good about whatever that is, and that's great exposure.
So, what's really getting lost is what's in the middle here at this point. What's in the middle are going to be the influencers, and are those tactics going to continue to work when you, you know, throw them swag, throw them product and everyone out there knows it's not really real?
The Road Ahead
So, what I encourage our marketers to start thinking about here is valuing that similarly to any other ad or ad platform you may be considering. So, it's not far off from today as doing display or video. You're just throwing the content production on to an influencer.
At that point, you know, the concern that you may have is what you lose from a brand equity standpoint, because you know that the people who are looking at that person are really not believing them, and so therefore, they start to erode your own brand, not because the visuals aren't cool or something like that, but because you know that you paid them to do this. They are doing that production work, and I think there's going to be ultimately a backlash there, because I think those influencers are going to feel, well, they're not going to be able to make money at the end of the day. They might get some free stuff here and there, but they're not going to be able to make a living. Now, we're extending, you know, this into for some people thinking it is a viable career option or something like that, where it's not legit.
What I want our marketers to start thinking about over the next 18 months is to know this world is going to change. You're going to see that because of what Facebook is doing, as it relates to even the political ads and any of the other stuff that Instagram, obviously Instagram, part of Facebook, is going to do, as a reaction to some of that, as we'll get into the election season, and how people are going to start to influence public opinion through some of these vehicles as well. I think that we're going to see a change. So, plan for that change. Whether or not it's pulling back from some of that in your marketing budget and plan or not getting so dependent on that, because, I mean, you're getting into not just influencer but then paid social. So, how are you going to promote these, the posts that are getting out there and stuff like that?
I think social will continue to exist. I mean, people still love to post their stuff, and send it to their friends, and have their friends comment on it, and things like that, and I do think there's still beautiful imagery be had that people want to observe and appreciate. But as it plays out in the brands ecosystem, you're going to have to start paying attention. It's something we don't have a solution for yet. I think solutions are definitely coming, and they're going to come at the hands of the Facebooks and the Pinterests, and Twitter out in the world, the marketers who are going to start changing their perspective of how they're going to use these influencers. Then obviously I think of the ends of the spectrum I think the macro-influencers are going to play a bigger role as we see happening day in and day out in skincare, alcohol, you name it.
So, think about it, and if you want to talk about it, certainly, comment or ping me. You know, I'm on Twitter all the time, @ICowboy is my Twitter handle. I would love to engage with anybody who wants to talk about it. Connect with me on LinkedIn as well.
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