Influencer marketing – trust me, it’s going to be big

When Facebook’s spat with Norway’s top daily newspaper spilled over into open warfare recently, it brought to the surface something that had been bubbling under for a long time. For those who missed it, the argument arose when an Aftenposten journalist posted an article identifying 7 images which changed warfare – one of them being the infamous image of children fleeing a napalm strike in Vietnam.  Facebook immediately censored the image as it contained nudity, prompting a fierce backlash from the daily newspaper’s editor.  In an open, front-page letter, he called upon Mark Zuckerberg to act in accordance with his position as the ‘world’s most powerful editor’, and stop censoring content so blindly.

Social media as a news source

The important trend highlighted here is Facebook as a news source.  Our feeds are now clogged with videos and articles from media outlets, to the extent that 44% of US adults currently use Facebook as their main source of news.  And it doesn’t stop there – social media is the modern high-street.  We use it for everything – headlines, educational videos, parenting help, and shopping tips.

Influencer marketing is the art and science of leveraging a person’s large social media following into increased product sales.

It’s when a fashion blogger with a million Instagram followers posts a photo swooning over a new dress, and those followers rush out to buy it. Or when a make-up vlogger films a rave review of a new product and it flies off the shelves. And it’s extremely persuasive.

What makes it so persuasive is that it’s basically the 21st century’s answer to word of mouth promotion – except it can reach much more people, instantly. Studies have shown that ‘consumer to consumer’ promotion is twice as effective as traditional ‘top-down’ marketing, and that customers won by word of mouth are 37% more likely to be retained.

Influencer marketing in all its forms is widely tipped to be the next big thing, and the big firms agree.

A recent Salesforce study found that 70% of brands are increasing their social media spend for the coming year.

And where the brands go, localisation should follow.  If influencer marketing is the hot, new way to sell, then it should be as well-localised as your website and your marketing brochure.  This means subtitling of video blogs, on-demand translation of written posts and rapid localisation of trending stories that support your product.  The brands who are investing in social media would do well to ring-fence a portion of that spend to ensure all of these are done properly.

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