The era of influencers
04 April 2018
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There's a lot of hype around influencer marketing. What exactly is this new trend? Influencer marketing basically means that brands partner with popular celebrities, athletes, and leaders to promote their offering. According to Giordano Contestabile, CEO of bloglovin, influencer marketing has exponentially expanded over the past two years. In the last couple of years, we have seen this phenomenon go from a rising marketing tactic to an essential part of most marketing budgets.

Today, influencer marketing has expanded from celebrity product placement and continues to prove that if used correctly it can be more effective than digital ads. By engaging with the brand every day on their widely followed social networks, influencers have redefined the role of the brand spokesperson. The influencer has become a multifaceted marketing tool that brands can live through... and piggyback off the hype.

Brands now collaborate with influencers to break into new markets and interact with new consumers. If managed correctly, such collaborations bring about mass exposure. When the relationship between the brand and the influencer is authentic and aligned with both party's values and beliefs, it becomes difficult to distinguish where the artist's influence starts, and where the brand's end.

There are new layers defining who and what influencers are. The focus used to be on celebrities, including well-known actors, musicians and athletes... now, the spotlight has shifted to those who have found their fame in the online space and have amassed huge audiences on social media platforms.

Influencers essentially carry a 'digital word of mouth' and have the instant ability to reach and drive consumers to a product or service to incite a relationship with the brand. According to Hookit, the largest network of athletes in the world, in 2016 Cristiano Ronaldo generated almost 500 million dollars in media value for Nike. With just 1 700 posts across social media, Ronaldo garnered 2.25 billion interactions. Since the Nike logo was featured in 347 posts, resulting in 477 million interactions, Nike generated clout from Ronaldo's posts.

In 2018 Kanye West took the concept of influencer marketing to another level by usurping fashion shows and traditional means of advertising. He deployed an army of Kim Kardashian clones to Instagram to launch his new Yeezy Season 6 apparel.
Shot paparazzi style, Kim was seen wearing outfits from Season 6 whilst out and about in LA. West and his team then deployed Kim Kardashian clones on the eve of the collection's drop - down to the precise poses and locations and platinum hair colour. The shots were then cleverly repurposed into a look book for the collection. As Yeezy no doubt thought, 'who needs a fashion show when your wife has 12% of all Instagram followers at her fingertips?'

The bottom line is that influencer marketing can be a major catalyst for business growth. So, start looking for the influencers in your space and start building relationships with them sooner rather than later.

By Xhanti Mahlangeni
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