Picture: 123RF/SKDESIGN
Picture: 123RF/SKDESIGN

If the pandemic has shown us one thing, it’s that we crave the personal touch. In a time of quarantine, isolation and social distancing, we are seeking out person-to-person contact to remind us of our humanity. Influencer marketing is changing how we view our communications and our messages during this time – and this time of crisis is in turn changing how we model influencer marketing.

Social media changed the landscape

The days of engineered endorsements are rapidly ending. Globally we are seeing – and feeling – a trend towards human interaction. We are looking for real people with real messages and a real connection with a brand or product. Social media has laid the lives of everybody open to scrutiny, and we know, just by following someone and seeing them live their lives, whether or not their endorsement is real. And this impacts our opinion.

The Covid-19 crisis is showing us just how prevalent this trend towards human connections is. By showing us how influencers are suffering during this time, just like us, it is creating a bond between us. A travel influencer, for example, stuck at home during a lockdown, posts about how much they miss their travels, shows us pictures of places they have been and mentions how, as soon as they are able, they will be going straight to XYZ Travel Agents to book their next journey.

Relatable. Resonant. Real. We have a human connection. We feel their pain because we feel that pain too. And, when we next think of travelling, we will be thinking of XYZ Travel Agents.

It’s blurring the lines between local and global

The old thinking of local versus global is falling by the wayside in the face of the new digital trends. SA is a perfect example of how easy access to mobile devices and mobile internet is changing the narrative from “us and them” to “me and we”. While we still retain our country identity, we’re also following people from across the globe (particularly during the pandemic) and experiencing things through their filters as well as our own.

This is why influencer marketing sets the trend for authentic connections. People follow the influencer. This makes the influencer the focal point, not the brand. By effectively using the influencer’s voice you are associating the brand to the influencer, not the influencer to the brand, giving it far more impact for the audience. An audience, by the way, that is not constrained by borders or boundaries.

This is not to say that there is no place for localisation. Local/global is a separation along imaginary boundaries. Localisation is taking your message, finding the perfect influencer within a market and promoting it using their own voice, language and culture. This is absolutely critical to ensure that you’re speaking in the context of your audience’s immediate reality, but also understanding their engagement with a global reality.

It’s changing how marketing, and business, is run

This trend towards a more humanistic approach to communications and a more holistic approach to our audience is leading to a more synergistic relationship between marketing agencies, and between business and agencies.

Influencer marketing has become an integral part of any successful strategy. And this is changing how agencies work together. Far from supplanting the big above-the-line TV and outdoor campaigns from advertising agencies, influencer marketing is now enhancing them by taking the broad message and giving it a personal voice. It’s making the message more personal and more effective, and at the same time creating relationships that are truly collaborative and synergistic, that take the expert skills of different disciplines and sync them for maximum success.

Combined with the trend for personal connections, influencer marketing is showing businesses that they must be authentic in what they offer and what they say. Because the alternative is losing all credibility and all resonance in a world actively seeking out falsehoods.

And it’s only growing.

The leading experts in influencer marketing are working closely with paid media and other channels to amplify how we communicate and where we communicate for brands. A great example of the changing trends in modern influencer marketing is how we are driving the person-to-person speciality of influencers into a wider world by enhancing the channels they can use through syndicated partnerships with paid media. Paid media is potent in bringing reach, influencer marketing’s superpower is creating resonance. If paid media channels are selected cleverly, the authenticity of the influencer’s message is not compromised. They are still showcased, with their style, tone and narrative – just to a bigger audience.

Syndicated thinking and working amplifies a brand’s message exponentially. Bringing influencer marketing into the paid media sphere of influence allows us to create a personal connection to a wider audience. In the same way, bringing paid media into the influencer marketing sphere of influence gives us greater reach and potentially, for both the brand and the influencer, a bigger following.

The partnership also enhances the influencer’s offering through performance marketing and programmatic with new channels like digital out of home, and further monetises the influencer while growing product sales through shoppable banners and social posts.

Through it all there is an emphasis on real engagement and authentic messages. This, after all, is the unique benefit of influencer marketing. Paid media syndication is not a channel that changes what we are at our core – it merely allows us to show more people who we are. Because it’s all about that all-important human connection.

  • Stephane Rogovsky is the founder and CEO of R-Squared


the big take-out:

Influencer marketing is setting the trend for authentic connections

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