Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing
K.O.Ls restore the trust between brands and consumers. They are a new media themselves that goes far beyond traditional media and social media.
The proximity between the audience and the publisher is stronger than ever, with all possible interactions, with limitless creativity and fun. It is all the more relevant for younger generations that criticize traditional media, and especially don’t like ads.
Pros of Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing had a huge positive impact on the global economy in recent years:
The first positive impact is on employment
Beyond the pleasure of sharing all this content, KOLs now have the opportunity to make it a living and create jobs. Lots of them have already decided to become professionals and turn their passion into a job, their own job. Some of those entrepreneurs even created more jobs by hiring employees like agents, managers, assistants, photographers or lawyers.
The second impact is on media performance
Influencer Marketing allows brands a better audience targeting than other media. Because K.O.Ls provide ultra affinity conversations with their fans, on all possible specific passions and topics, with a better understanding of the audience. And thus more efficient.
The third impact is on media democratization and competitiveness for small companies
Countless companies with limited marketing budgets used Influencer Marketing as an affordable lever to promote their product and services, replacing TV and other more expensive mass media. Among them, millions of Digital Native Vertical Brands (DNVB) took advantage of this relatively cheap and 100% digital acquisition and branding lever to build solid and scalable business, challenge established brick and mortar competitors, and create jobs.
The fourth economical impact is on consumer interests and on product quality
Today, some brands use K.O.L as a quality test for their product or services, and do not hesitate to radically change directions accordingly. As an example, our customer P&G changed its Herbal Essences shampoo formula and worked on it for 12 months after contacting K.O.L for collaborations. Indeed, K.O.Ls first didn’t want to promote the product for environmental and quality issues, and P&G adapted it to please them. In the best interest of consumers that K.O.L don’t want to fool.
Finally, beyond the media, K.O.Ls are humans, with a natural tendency to use their amazing influence power to act for good
They are living beings that evolve, rise and fall, and improve. They proved recently that they can be responsible, for example avoiding to show too much of the unreal world they usually share, with less photoshop, less filters, less makeup. They also launched or supported amazing initiatives to positively impact the world : they helped raise millions on Twitch for good causes, promoted petitions for climate change, helped ill patients to find bone marrow donors, and more recently helped support good citizen behavior during the Covid19 crisis.
Cons of Influence Marketing
But at Kolsquare we are also aware of the controversial market perception about Influencer Marketing, which most often is made out of misunderstanding and fear of the unknown.
An immature market
Influencer Marketing is still perceived as the caricature of it, involving immature and meaningless persons, and fueling easy money for “only posts”. It is a young business that is not well understood and valued by the public at large, but also by professionals, even within marketing experts (not to say among C-Level!). It is indeed an immature business, that is sometimes subject to unethical behaviors, either by brands or by K.O.Ls. The lack of rules and regulations doesn’t help a very fast growing – and thus changing – industry.
A lack of authenticity
As collaborations are booming, fans start to feel overwhelmed with ads. They question their KOL authenticity as they have become sandwich men/ women. Brands themselves tend to consider KOLs as a simple advertising sign, and this pressure doesn’t help. KOLs may sacrifice authenticity on the pressure of their community, or on the pressure of brands and the related income. They can be pushed to say and share things they don’t really believe in, just to please them and keep a good engagement rate.
The apology of consumerism and superficiality
They also tend to disguise reality through photoshopped bodies and faces, too much positivity and false happiness, which also has a side effect on fans’ mental health. KOLs can willingly or unwillingly manipulate fans. The unprecedented proximity between content creators and their followers make the latter more susceptible to suggestion and manipulation. Influencer Marketing is also criticized because it fuels the consumer society and compulsive buying disorder. Each collaboration, especially if not officially announced, can prompt followers to buy a new product or service, a product that they might not really need but that they can buy in one click. Finally, setting-up efficient Influence Marketing collaborations requires collecting and storing billions of data that are not always available through Social Networks APIs.
All technologies working on social networks face the same issues (social listening, gaming, retargeting…), but Influence Marketing platforms have to build complex big data strategies and infrastructures to answer brands’ needs. This raises terms and conditions dilemma, as well as principles issues (for example : Should we store Stories on Instagram, that our brands love and need to correctly do their jobs, but that are in essence short lived? Should we scrap data that is not available through the API? What should I do if there is no API?).