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Who should brands partner with: Celebrity influencers or everyday influentials?

Platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter are losing appeal with influencers and brands as many turn away. So, is it time for a rethink on influencer marketing?
Written by Eileen Brown on

Video: Do social networks influence perception?

Recent research has found that 86 percent of marketers and 89 percent of influencers are using Snapchat less for influencer marketing campaigns than they did last year.

The influencer marketing study was conducted by New York-based influencer marketing network Activate (previously called Bloglovin').

Read also: What trends will dominate influencer marketing in 2018

It interviewed over 800 social media influencers and 100 marketers to find out about the influencer marketing industry.

The study showed that Instagram and blogs are the two social channels that are experiencing the most activity.

Instagram continues to rise with 92 percent of marketers and 88 percent of influencers using Instagram for more campaigns than last year.

Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have had no major increases or decreases, whereas Snapchat and YouTube have experienced serious declines in usage.

Although Snapchat has a low barrier to entry for influencers who can easily post content, there are concerns from brands and influencers. This is due to the lack of an ecosystem for influencers and challenges with tracking metrics.

Micro-influencers have been leaving YouTube for other platforms, partly due to regulations, and although video is growing year on year, the challenges for ordinary influencers on YouTube are high.

High-quality YouTube videos require considerably more production skills and access to good quality video equipment.

Influencers -- especially those with a significant number of followers -- can be a risk when tied to a brand. If consumers feel negative toward an influencer, because of a media issue, the influencer can often redeem themselves fairly quickly.

However, brands could suffer the fallout from a scandal for much longer. In the past, influencer scandals have made brands wary of being associated with certain individual's opinions or comments that do not align with company principles.

Read also: Twitter's bot problem draws greater scrutiny (CNET)

So should companies consider influentials as a good alternative for brand safety, engagement, and impact -- or influencers? Micro-influencers can change the way that brands can engage socially.

Influentials, or micro-influencers, tend to be everyday people. They are not influencers with a huge following -- and are not celebrities. Influentials have a highly engaged follower base of friends, family, and other connections.

The impact of influentials amongst their social circles enables them to spread a brand message far across their networks.

Influentials do not have the same association with the brand as top-tier influencers, which makes them less of a risk to brand reputation. Influentials could be a safer alternative.

Micro-influencers do not work for the brand; they share content which unlocks a digital reward for them. Brands that offer incentivized social referral marketing campaigns can take utilise influentials without fear of celebrity scandals that sometimes befall influencers.

The best results occur when marketers and influencers partner up and tell compelling brand stories. The influencer-brand partnership will thrive. However, the study showed that less than a third (29 percent) of influencers are asked for their opinion on content direction.

In fact, over half (55 percent) of marketers have decided on content strategy and direction has been decided before influencers are chosen.

Why would an influencer work with a brand?

Who should brands partner with - celebrity influencers or everyday influentials ZDNet

Most influencers do not work with a brand just to get paid. The primary reason that influencers will partner with a brand is because they love the brand and often organically post about them.

The desire to introduce a new product or brand to their audience followed closely behind as the second reason. But not many brands have integrated campaigns.

Read also: How to tackle influencer fraud (TechRepublic)

Almost half of marketers work with influencers for six months or longer and almost four in ten Influencers have established long-term partnerships with a brand.

Brands can work with individuals who can become an enthusiastic brand ambassador for the long term. Large, or small, this micro-influencer trend can bring benefits for both in the longer term.

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Previous and related coverage

Influencer marketing cuts through noise and drives sales for brands

Across the hyper-competitive retail climate, brands constantly look for ways to drive sales. Influencer marketing could be a key tactic to gain that competitive edge.

Study shows non-celebrity influencers are 10 times more likely to drive in store purchases

What do Tom Brady and Ugg, Charlize Theron and Dior, and Beyoncé and Pepsi all have in common? They are all A-lister endorsements, who are getting an "F" with millennial consumers who prefer peer endorsements to those of celebrities according to a new survey.

Brands that use influencer marketing can boost returns and conversions

Word-of-mouth recommendations from influencers effectively turn prospects into customers, who trust the people they interact with on a daily basis.

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