We’ve all met an influencer marketer.
You remember the cool kids in high school who started trends before you did (well, at least were noticed for the trend before you were)? When Jessica with the gorgeous hair showed off her True Religion Jeans and you thought, I should go buy a pair?
The digital marketing world has turned quite provocative for those with a large following – like Jessica from high school.
Influencers attract followers by the horde because of their FOMO beloved lifestyle. From promoting a tea that just absolutely helps you shed that last pound to promoting a can of soda, “you have to try this!” it situates one-to-one consumerism. If you see someone you know (and like) getting on board with a product and recommending it, why wouldn’t you do the same?
Instagram has been wildly beneficial to those who have that secret ingredient to turn a product into a brand. One sponsored ad from a celebrity, and you’re already reaching 80 million people.
It’s no coincidence that retail stores are now turning to such promotion. Once secondary, now essential, online marketing has found ways of connecting with buyers by buying into their social network. While there are plenty of benefits to this idea (talk about dollar signs), every form of marketing has its, potential, drawbacks.
If you’ve been active on social media this past month, you’ll have seen the shakedown from Pepsi and their commercial with Kendall Jenner. The Kardashian/Jenner family are some of the most prominent influencers out there (they have individual social followings of up to 95 million people on Instagram alone).
So, when Pepsi hired Kendall to be in their commercial, they thought they had this one in the bag. The commercial would attract millennials and generation z babies, it would speak to current issues and spark love for the brand. Instead, the tone-deaf commercial came across as shallow and insensitive.
In the commercial, Ms. Jenner is seen leaving a fashion shoot to join a protest and approaches a police officer. What solves this tense interaction? Why, handing a Pepsi to the officer, of course.
It was the marginalization that killed this commercial.
Pepsi had its sight on reaching a large audience through Kendall, but they didn’t consider her brand when hiring her. Her brand thrives off capitalism. Her entire empire is built off people buying and consuming materialistic products. Which, intrinsically, is fine. After all, we are a consumer driven society.
But, it does not bode well when you try to marry politics with capitalism. It’s paradoxical, isn’t it?
One would think an influencer marketing would allow for a more stable connection to the buyer, after all, it is delving into personal interaction. And really, it does, if done correctly.
For example, Nautica recently signed Lil Yachty to be an ambassador – he even created a clothing line with the retailer. The connection is visible, just read the two names.
While this might make for an odd pair, as Nautica’s customers don’t necessarily have red, beaded dreads or predominately listen to rap, this connection remains positive because it can attract new customers and a more youthful demographic.
Hear me out – Pepsi and Kendall Jenner could have worked if they did not choose to tread into political waters. The commercial could have presented her as another beach-goer, swinging a Pepsi in her hand and hash-tagged the post with “Live Well.” Her followers would have liked the photograph probably over 1 million times and there would be no greater discussion, only buyers.
Influencer marketers must reside at face-value – any further, and it seems like their opinion is one you didn’t want. Think back to Jessica from high school, her recommendation of jeans did not lead into a conversation beyond that initial, oh I want that. In fact, you might have resented her for her level of “coolness.”
In terms of marketing, creating a lasting connection must be made through a variety of different forms, with influencer only being a piece of that puzzle.
In a world where consumers make purchases from social media posts, the line between advertising and opinion has become blurry. The statistics don’t lie: influencers aren’t going anywhere, so make sure you are transparent and give your consumers the full story.