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GETTING PAID TO POST: THE DOWNFALL OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER-OR IS IT?

We all know them. From glitzy, impossibly-perfect pics on Instagram and Twitter to flaunting the latest trends and brands, they seem to have it all. In case you’re unaccustomed to this phenomenon, let me just say: Welcome to the world of social media influencers. Since the arrival of social media, there have been numerous innovations and developments in the way brands communicate with their audiences. One of many effective discoveries in social media marketing has been the use of social media influencers. These are people who are active on social media and blogs and are brand advocates and niche promoters.

Social media influencers can be effective partners for brands who are looking to extend their digital reach. But these partnerships aren’t automatically beneficial; like any marriage, communication and being on the same page is vital. To marketers, one of the most attractive outcomes of influencer marketing is the opportunity to build more meaningful relationships with consumers through a trusted third party, i.e. influencers. Partnering with influencers is a powerful way to boost the success of your content marketing strategy and according to Forbes writer Kyle Wong, 2015 was the year of influencer marketing.

Some of the most successful influencers are practically businesses themselves, with large followings and engaged users. Perhaps most importantly, the best social media influencers are genuine and authentic — or at least they appear to be — unlike many modern marketing strategies. Directly and through affiliate networks, these influencers help companies market their products in new ways, and the relationships usually benefit both sides of the equation. However, there might be a dark side to what was once perceived as a hobby attributed to harmless online-sharing. Today’s savvy fashion marketers are increasingly making use of social media influencers to pitch their products in various (and sometimes misleading) ways. Such initiatives are usually low-cost, low-risk marketing tactics.

Like everything else, moderation is key. Overdoing any marketing tactic could negatively affect results, and influencer marketing is no exception to the rule.  The use of social media influencers is booming and most brands and influencers are overdoing it. Even if the influencer is credible, the target audience must have confidence in him/her. Without trust, any information from the influencer will be downgraded by the target. In engaging with influencers, organizations are starting to treat influencers as employees. They are even being paid and blatantly promoted. This is slowly leading to the influencers losing credibility.

While social media influencers are a powerful and cost-effective marketing strategy for any brand, the bad side of it can easily be remedied, for example, by co-creating value with influencers through their connection with the community. The community will help provide an audience for influencers and amplify their impact. This way, the brand sponsoring the community gets the benefit of effective word-of-mouth through these influencers, resulting in a win-win situation for everyone.