Has The Influencer Cat Escaped the Bag?

The On Purpose #CriticalMatters series was started to deliberate on some hard questions. This Twitter-specific brainstorm exercise by us has its interests spread across matters relevant to the field of communications and of our larger goal of championing social change.

On July 6th, the @onpurposecomms handle hosted a tweet chat on a question that so many of us in the communications industry have been mulling over – Is this the end of the influencer era?

Clearly, there were no easy, straightforward answers to be had here! Which is why the tweet chat included three highly-experienced guests, all of whom graciously accepted to be on the panel – Karan Bhandari (@karanbhandari), Arvind Passey (@arvindpassey), and Moushumi Dutt (@moushumidutt).

Karan Bhandari, Head of Digital Marketing at Weber Shandwick and, Arvind Passey, a well-known name in the influencer circuit, aptly put forth that a majority of brands are testing the influencer waters but not many brands are willing to think out-of-the-box and bet huge monies yet.

I can immediately think of brands (in India) like Godrej, Royal Enfield and Nykaa (the e-commerce cosmetic portal) who have managed to build a very loyal community of influencers, who are also their customers. Their entire focus is nothing but enriching the brand experience for their end user. As Brian Solis writes in his research study – The Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing that “this is a call for a new era of marketing beyond influence to improve the journeys for customers and stakeholders everywhere.”

The Current Scenario:

Here’s what is happening. We’ve only become comfortable with the idea of giving access or money to the influencers with very little thought about the benefit to the end user. The impact of influencer content on their followers has reached a plateau and that’s where we’re losing the marketer’s confidence.

  1. Today’s SM savvy audience is well aware that every time an influencer is roped in by a brand, there is a monetary transaction involved and hence, it greatly compromises on the authenticity of the content and the brand. And authenticity can’t be bought. As Moushumi Dutt, a veteran in the communications industry advises brands to choose influencers with care.

  2. Each time, we select influencers for our brand engagement, we make the same mistake of going after the well-networked influencer with an envious ‘follower’ count and reach. As Arvind Passey who speaks for the influencer community states that at times, brands completely negate the maturity of content and their relevance to the end audience.
  3. Influencer engagement is not rocket science. It is like any other relationship that is based on mutual value, and a continued engagement over a period of time. Like Kate Mathews, Strategic PR Director of Stickyeyes says, “Brands need a genuine link with influencers and influencers need a genuine link with their audience, which in turn closes the loop in connecting audience and brand.”

The verdict from the experts? Influencer marketing is here to stay but here’s what needs an ear.

  • If there’s mutual value, it’ll click

  • Don’t be afraid to start a partnership and co-create content

  • Go beyond the follower count! We’ve said that enough

  • It is only prudent for brands to declare the sponsorship openly and voluntarily. It only makes you more credible

  • Keep your end user in mind, before defining your influencer strategy

If you have any thoughts about this blog, do leave your comments below. We’re always eager to chat up! 🙂