Picture: 123RF / RAWPIXEL
Picture: 123RF / RAWPIXEL

Using brand influencers on social media platforms has become one of the most effective ways to deliver messages that resonate with audiences. But there’s a skill to getting it right, and getting it wrong may actually work against a brand. Interpretation and authenticity are key if the influencer is going to align with the brand in a believable way and ensure that the consumer will buy into the messaging and purchase the product.

Tami Ruschin, MD at Stylista, a social media space for fashion, beauty and lifestyle, believes there must be room for an influencer to covey the messaging in a way that will make sense to the audience. In the social media space, where millennials are inundated with media vying for their attention, audiences are discerning and can smell forced advertising a mile away, she says.

The big take-out: The key to using influencers effectively lies in how naturally they align with a brand and how well the audience can relate to them and what they’re saying.

Ruschin advises that brands should look to align with influencers who embody the brand ethos and are aligned to its values, in order to ensure authenticity. “This is what makes all the difference when it comes to successful influencer marketing – audiences can see the correlation between the brand and the influencer and will readily engage with the content,” she says.

For Ruschin, the definition of an influencer is someone who not only understands a niche topic or audience, but represents the aspirations of that audience to get to a certain level in life. If influencer marketing is used effectively, the same influencer will be able to align with multiple brands in a natural way.

Niche content, says Ruschin, works extremely effectively in SA, where audiences are widely diverse. Blanket-coating content simply doesn’t work in this country – it doesn’t celebrate the subcultures and diversity that make SA what it is.

“Millennials don’t look to celebrities to inform their purchasing decisions, and influencers are not celebrities. Micro-influencers, as they have become known, evolved through blogging – the blogger either resonated with a niche audience or conveyed a lifestyle that the audience aspired to in some way. It makes this lifestyle seem more attainable and relatable because the influencer isn’t a celebrity living a life most people can only dream of – influencers are real people living real lives and are very similar to their audiences in many ways,” Ruschin says, adding that this is what creates the connection.

When it comes to providing influencer content that has the highest chance of touching the audience in some way, Ruschin advises that content should inspire the audience – people should walk away with the feeling that they have learned something new.

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