There’s a lot of buzz around influencer marketing at the moment, it’s a hot topic in the marketing world and lots of brands are sitting up and taking notice. But there’s one worrying aspect – everyone seems to think we’re all online, all the time.
Before someone thought up the natty title of influencer marketing it was called word of mouth marketing. It’s about the oldest form of advertising there is – one person telling another person to try something out. And it existed long before paid for media.
Despite the intervening years and advances in marketing, word of mouth still remains the most credible form of advertising. 83% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family.
Depending on which figure you choose to believe we’re subjected to 2000-5000 messages a day. With every new platform, app or advertising invention that number grows and lessens a brand’s ability to cut through the noise and win consumer attention. So using trusted connections and word of mouth becomes more important and should be a key marketing activity.
Lots of clever brands have cottoned onto this (and have some brilliant agencies helping them) but many seem to have forgotten the roots of word of mouth marketing – real people talking to each other.
It’s easy to understand why influencer marketing has an online focus – the top line stats are overwhelming – The Family Panel carried out research with 3000 families and found 90% had a Facebook account and 60% a Twitter account. It’s also, unlike ‘real world’ influencer marketing, easy to measure. You can see how many followers people have and measure the overall reach of a campaign. And finding people in real life is harder, it takes a lot of leg work to build up connections you can go to.
Should influencer marketing just be online?
But what if those overwhelming stats hide a truth? Maybe not all family members with purchasing power are online. The Family Panel research found 70% of parents that have a Facebook or Twitter account don’t really use it much. (Certainly, not as much as those working in advertising and marketing).
So even if you get the right influencers online and have the right message that’s a boat load of people who still aren’t getting the message. Sure they’ll hear it through other mediums if you’re using them but they aren’t getting an authentic message from a source they trust.
If you think that statistic sounds high think about your own Facebook page (if you have one). Keep in mind we’re talking about families here, not 19 year old singletons. It’s probably a bit like mine – the same 10-20 people posting most of the time and the rest you hardly see. Or the people you message on Facebook and then meet face to face and they say ‘oh don’t bother, I never go on there’.
There’s a gap here, a world away from social media and constant connection. It’s a world where mums chat at the school gate about what to put in lunchboxes, where people at work discuss where they are going on holiday, where friends discuss car purchases at an exercise class. And in all those conversations recommendations are happening all the time. These are messages from people we know and trust and they won’t get lost in ever moving timeline, algorithm update or overnight social platform shutdown.
One thing we can be sure of is that people still talk to people, and the online world hasn’t entirely eaten us up yet. So before you turn to your screen for influencers maybe it’s worth looking out the window to check you’re not missing out on where your audience really is.