Many writers have commented that with Brexit, the social landscape has shifted to a post-factual realm where emotion trumps fact. Renowned experts can be ignored, and politicians can say whatever they want as long as it makes people feel how they want them to. But why are we surprised by this? Social media icons have been doing this for years, and they are bloody good at it.

In this blog, we take a look at how social media advertising has changed recently, and why influencers are so – well, influential.

 

Social media advertising pioneers

Kylie Jenner didn’t invent wigs, but still claims to have started the “wig” trend, Trump is a multi-billionaire but apparently represents the common man of America… welcome to the new age of emotional influence.

The scope of the social media age is hugely unpredictable, and brands are scrambling to decipher and harness its power. Influence no longer sits with monolithic corporations - just look at Goldman Sachs, once the pinnacle of success, now a curse word in wider circles. Consumer influence and trust is increasingly a grass-roots community-generated endeavour, and what’s better is that it includes everyone.

We only have to look at the endless string of celebrity bloggers (such as Tanya Burr, Zoella and Kayla Itsines) to see that the explosion in user-generated content and adoption of sharing platforms (YouTube, snapchat, etc.) is the biggest force changing the influencer marketing landscape.

Generation Z in particular are not passively consuming content, or shopping based on flashy billboards. Indeed, this desire for the real, the sometimes brutally honest and the authentic is driving a big change in influencer marketing. People want real stories, not airbrushed commercial ads. Celebrity is still important as people want something to “aspire to,” but it needs to be grounded in the reality of everyday life.

 

Social influence is different to social media

Achieving social influence is difficult and can often be misguided. I am a fervent advocate of biddable social media advertising, but simply pouring click spend into platforms is going to have limited effect. My pet hate is hollow traffic, and the dramatic rise in both user numbers and time spent on social networks has created a scenario where biddable can look like more of a success than it actually is.

You need to be smart about how you target. Look at where your target audience’s influencers are in their lives (i.e. age, social standing, income level) and the appropriate social channels will follow. For example, if you are looking to influence young consumers, then video is the most method of communication and YouTube is the best channel.

 

Authenticity to drive influence

While social marketing has been quick to utilise personal conversations and connections, the reality of social is that a lot of voices don’t get heard. Meaningful mainstream influencers have become something of an enigma.

Instead of striving for a single focal point of influence, we need to be able to spread a wider net using social points of micro influence.

The best marketing campaigns don’t always necessitate the biggest social media advertising costs. Instead of trying to build influence with a £20,000 endorsement, wouldn’t a well thought-out grass roots placement strategy work.

Just look at Beats by Dre’s ambush of the London Olympics. That may seem outdated being four years ago, but the best campaigns are often ahead of their time. The simple distribution of free headphones to aspiring and peak athletes (aka the real influencers) resonated at a grass roots level, and hit more people than a Super Bowl ad of Kim Kardashian naked on a unicycle ever could. Smart targeting of an authentic audience does wonders.

Biddable social media advertising has its place in this process. Accurate targeting of select groups is like a booster shot for your message. Fundamentally though, you need to ensure that your content is authentic and relatable to your audience. It takes time and thought, but with accurate targeting of grass roots influencers, the micro influencers lead to macro sales.

 

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