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How to harness the power of influencers

The increasing power of influencers means that marketers need to understand how best to communicate with them as influencer marketing is a $1 billion industry on Instagram alone. The relationship between brands and influencers, and whether or not this is paid for, can be confusing. Research from digital insights company Toluna looks at what consumers really think of influencers and which ones they find most trustworthy. To help marketers better influence influencers, the panel describes a study which finds out what influencers think of both in-house and agency PROs.

Analysing the study of consumers underlines the power influencers have over them. Key findings are:

  • Over half (60%) of respondents either regularly follow or have followed influencers to some extent
  • Almost 61% of respondents said that they have bought products after viewing an influencer’s recommendation once or twice and 21% said they almost always make purchase decisions based on this
  • Just under 55% of respondents said they find is easy to tell if an influencer is being paid to recommend a product
  • Nearly half (46%) said that they trust a recommendation made by an influencer after it has been disclosed that they are being compensated by a brand
  • Yet 70% said that they trust an influencer’s opinion more if they are independent
  • Facebook was the most popular social media site for following influencers (at 62%) and food and cooking was the most popular subject area (at 56%)
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they would be more inclined to buy a product if it was recommended by an influencer
  • Yet 54% did not think brands should work with influencers

How likely are you to buy following an influencer’s recommendation?

What is your favourite social media site for following influencers?

PROs must court influencers
Discussing why marketers cannot afford to ignore influencers, Paul Twite, UK managing director of Toluna, says: “With 61% of respondents making at least one purchase inspired by influencer recommendations, it is more important than ever for communications professionals to harness the potential of influencers across various platforms, establishing positive relationships to raise their profile in new and growing markets.”

Transparency is vital
However, Twite highlights a key problem: how freely should an influencer disclose the nature of their relationship with a certain brand? “Brand-influencer relationships often encompass paid-product placements and sponsored content, making it difficult to tell when an influencer is genuinely recommending a product based on its quality. This lack of transparency can damage consumer relations; 70% of respondents said that they trusted an influencer’s opinion more if they were independent, and not sponsored by a brand.

“Instagram is already making a move to address this issue through the addition of its ‘paid partnership’ feature in June 2017. However, this rule is not enforced – it is implemented at the discretion of the influencer – and there is currently no legal impetus to add such tools.”

You must build trust
Twite concludes that fostering organic relations with influencers is the way forward, as this allows marketers to reach new audiences and gain endorsement whilst prioritising the consumer’s trust in the quality and authenticity of their brand. “If a brand really does have faith in its product, then the growing desire for transparent influencer marketing could prove to be a welcome trend.”

500 UK respondents were surveyed between May and July 2017.

How influencers view PROs
A recent study looking at what influencers think of PROs and finds a big difference in their feelings towards agency and in-house professionals. Lauren Henley, digital PR manager at marketing agency every1 discusses the findings:

“I recently surveyed influencers which offered an insight into how they work with brands. I found that most influencers and bloggers cultivate their following mainly as a hobby and just less than half made enough of an income from PR work to consider it as their full-time job. 69% of influencers enjoyed reviewing PR samples, but interestingly only 20% of them liked sponsored Vlogging.

In-house PROs are more polite
“One of the most eye-opening findings was how influencers see big differences between in-house marketers and PR agencies. Influencers said that they found in-house PRs to be flexible, polite and more interested in a long-term working relationship. Whereas agencies had a better understanding of how collaborations should be run; therefore working together was sometimes quicker and easier to understand.

Why influencers don’t like working with brands
“Whilst a lot of influencers were happy with their collaboration experiences, there were a large proportion who said they had felt negatively while working with a brand. 76% of those who responded said they had felt disappointed or unappreciated by a PRO citing unreliability, impatience and lack of payment as biggest bugbears.”

The every1 Blogger and Brand Survey was conducted over six weeks starting in April 2017. The survey was open to all UK influencers who had worked on sponsored collaborations and the 300 respondents were split into groups based on how well established they were online and what sectors they cover. The questions asked were a combination of tick boxes and free form answers. Supported by partner PRIME Research.

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