Not an #Ad

By: Julia Hofmann @juliahofmann9

So, throughout class a buzzword that has been dropped more than a couple times is, “influencer.” Now, some of you might be wondering what’s an influencer; well an influencer is someone on social media with a large following, or simply someone on social media who has influence over their audience. Some examples would be, the Kardashians, Tyler Oakley, Zoella, DJ Khaled or any number of YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter stars. These people have millions of subscribers or followers and when the trend of influencers began they originally created content for own audiences, however within the last couple years that has changed drastically.

Social media influencers have now been sucked into the world of marketing and advertising and whether or not it’s for better or for worse time will tell. As of right now it’s a mix of both, but regardless both sides profit.

via GIPHY

Companies have been now been incorporating these influencers into their marketing and advertising strategies. Studies have shown that word-of-mouth from a trusted source are up there with the top marketing strategies to actually reach and sell products to consumers.

We’ve all had the talk in at least one of J-classes about who do consumers trust the most? Well, turns out 49 percent of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers and 40 percent of those consumers stated that they made direct purchasing decisions because of an influencer. So, clearly there is method to that madness that is bringing on social media influencers, but this new (and successful) marketing trend has not come free of consequences.

Recently, there has been some controversy over the Internet about whether or not influencers should alert their audiences to the fact that they are being paid to promote a product. The Kardashian sisters have been slammed for this and YouTube’s stars are constantly being asked and having to state whether or not any products visible or gushed over in their videos are from a sponsor. So, the fix for it was that anytime an influencer posts about a sponsored product they either need to say it or include the hashtag “ad”.

Now, the issue with this is the minute consumers discover it’s an ad they begin to question whether or not the product is actually worth it and begin to ask if the influencer actually loves it or just loves the money. Another issues that has popped up is, that with this influencer trend on the rise, companies are having a harder time connecting with influencers because now they can be picky, influencers can choose who they want to endorse. Because of this companies will move onto people with less and less influence just to follow this trend but they find it to be a much less successful endeavour.

My question for you all is, what do you think and have you ever been influenced by a social media influencer? I know I have and Zoella has convinced me to buy more beauty products then I will ever need in my life.

This Article Has 9 Comments
  1. Olivia Determan says:

    Great post, Julia!

    We talked about this topic in my ethics class last term! Social media influencers are now put to the same standards that bloggers are put to. This is straight out of my study guide.

    What are the 2009 FTC social media rules for PR and marketing?
    a. Bloggers must disclose if they receive cash or in­kind payment.
    i. If the blogger doesn’t disclose this information the firm is liable.
    b. Bloggers must define “typical” experience (actual results).
    c. If research is cited in an ad or promotion, any sponsorship of the research by the
    client or the marketer should be disclosed.
    d. Celebrities who make endorsements outside the context of traditional ads should
    disclose any relationship with the advertiser or marketer.

    These were made because people felt lied to about certain products. I know there was a lot of controversy over Fit Tea. So many celebrities endorse that brand, but the actual product is horrible for your body. There was even controversy over the #ad addition. It is so small and sometimes gets lost in the shuffle and people don’t always see it or know to look for it.

  2. Shannon Elliott says:

    Great read! I’ve always been really interested in influencer marketing and thought that its a very effective form of marketing. Rightly so, the data you provided demonstrate the effectiveness of influencer marketing. It’s not surprising to me that influencer marketing is on the rise and I think that it’s going to continue to gain publicity as a useful marketing tool. For a case study I did for J480, I looked at an influencer marketing campaign between Palmer’s and DJ Khaled. The success Palmer’s achieved exceeded their expectations for the campaign and it definitely supports the idea that influencer marketing is a strong trend that will continue to gain popularity this upcoming year.

  3. Joey Jaraczewski says:

    To answer your question: I feel that I am influenced daily by word-of-mouth advertising over social! However, as an entrepreneur, I think I am influenced in a different way than consumers. Where consumer audiences are influenced towards purchase, I am influenced to evaluate product and organizational representation. How does employing this or that influencer represent a competitive brand? What strategies should my brand take, given our level of reach and development?

    Thanks for the read!

  4. Jeff Lockie says:

    As is always the battle with marketing, it has always been a race to seem authentic. While influencer marketing used to be a type of ‘loophole’ in this system, it sounds like regulation is beginning to catch on. Whether certain ads should be marked or not is a discussion for another day, but the fact is that such placements work.

    I do not think any of us can truly say we have not been influenced by the products/brands we see placed on the people we love to follow. While I may not consciously realize it, if I see a favorite celebrity/athlete in a photo even wearing something I like, I subconsciously will be likely to purchase such piece of clothing (i.e. shoes, shirt, hoodie, etc.). I believe many of us do not even realize we are doing this, but I feel we all do it to some extent. Our brain cannot limit the bias of seeing an ‘influencer’ wear/promote a brand, and for us to not be affected by such a posts

    Overall, for good or for bad, I think influencer marketing will always be here to stay…the question is, if regulation cracks down on social media, where will influencer marketing hit next??

  5. Marisa Cesare says:

    While I believe influencer marketing has become a crucial tactic in the ad world today, personally, it isn’t the most effective tactic to reach me. I am much more inclined to buy a product endorsed by someone I know and trust, or even endorsed by product reviews by other consumers who have purchased and used the product. However, I think for certain products and audiences, for example bikinis, that influencer marketing is the way to go. Instagram models get paid a lot to endorse bathing suit brands and show that “normal people” can look great in their suits. They get to promote the brand and themselves.

  6. Kylie Elliot says:

    This was a great read! Super easy to comprehend and I loved all of the link that you included. I have always been really interested in influencers on social media and how the #ad affects the way that people view the post. I know for me I most of the time disregard whatever the influencer is saying because I now know they are getting paid for it. I am much more inclined to buy a product from someone who genuinely likes it because then I can be reassured that it is a quality product that I will also enjoy. I am still influenced by these photos when I see them because they do get me to think about the brand or product and maybe even consider buying it.

  7. Abby Bramble says:

    It is always hard to not talk about a #ad without mentioning the Kardashians or some GIF of them. This is something it seems that has helped launched their “careers” even more. Your statics of, “49 percent of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers and 40 percent of those consumers stated that they made direct purchasing decisions because of an influencer” seems scary true. I have fallen victim of that based on various fashion and beauty bloggers that I follow on Instagram. Their #ads cause me to search the product and decide if this beauty blogger is obsessed with it maybe it will work magic for me to. I am realizing more and more that often times celebrities and bloggers are posting about only for trade and money opportunities. That posting an #ad does not in any way confirm the product works or the quality is impeccable. There is a fuzzy line in do these products actually work or are you being almost brainwashed into trying them because Kylie Jenner swears she can never leave her house without her Fit Tea.

  8. Desiree Dahlson says:

    Love this post! I have definitely been influenced through social media via influencer posts. And I think this happens often, whether consciously or subconsciously.

    The line between genuine promotion and reviews of products and paid promotions and reviews has definitely become very blurred. This can cause misleading information from influencers that audiences may not realize is really paid content. I would hope that even if influencers are making money, that they would choose not to promote things the do not actually like or have never tried. But the facade SM can create makes that almost impossible to determine! That’s why the regulations that are being put in place are so important and make influencer marketing hopefully more honest.

  9. McKenzie Edgar says:

    I am definitely a sucker for influencers on Instagram specifically. I always look at products celebrities that I like are posting. Ever since the lecture on the law of using “#Ad” in a visible spot for a sponsored product, I notice the hashtag even more on the accounts that I follow. I tend to look at certain products posted by my favorite accounts but I have yet to buy something off of Instagram yet. I also think that influencers should be upfront and alert their audiences to the fact that they are being paid to promote a product. If they post something about a product that they use without hinting or pointing out they are being paid for that, I think their post is sincere. If I see the #Ad then I wonder if the product really works as well as the celebrity says it does. Great post, it was very interesting to read.

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