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The phenomenon of “influencers” on social media... A successful marketing method or a consumer trick?

05.11.2022 11:43 AM
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The phenomenon of “influencers” on social media... A successful marketing method or a consumer trick?
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The phenomenon of “influencers” on social media... A successful marketing method or a consumer trick?

One of the most important phenomena sweeping social media today is the “influencers” who contribute to the marketing of goods and services, especially on Instagram. They contributed to the marketing of 3.7 million ads in 2018, an increase of 43 percent over their marketing volume the previous year. This number is only recognized as advertising material, as there is an additional huge number of material that these promote without appearing as advertising material. This volume is expected to reach 6.8 million ads in 2028.

The definition of “influencer” is simply a person who has several million followers, with a minimum of 10,000 followers, on social media, who trust their evaluation of goods or services in a particular field so that companies use them to market their products in exchange for payments or gifts that you provide to them. It is a completely different field from direct advertising and media, and its owners admit to receiving direct payments for the services they provide.

The promotion of products comes through many methods, where the product appears in the background to identify it, or the “influencer” represents the role of the buyer of the product “because he trusts him” or because he knows more about this field than he knows others. Despite the ability to influence the purchase or promotion of certain products, the "influencer" is not responsible at all for the results if these products are harmful or not of the quality claimed by the influencer.

Influencers are inventive and chart internet trends known as "trends". There are many categories that can be called "influencers" such as journalists, academics, marketing experts and market analysts. There are groups without specific professions, but they were able to collect large numbers of followers. Reading what they write in their blogs or excerpts that they put on their sites attract followers.

Celebrities can also be considered influencers. In a field like football, stars such as Ronaldo, Messi and Mohamed Salah can be considered among the most influential internationally. They can also promote goods for huge sums that may exceed what they get from the clubs they play for. For example, Mohamed Salah is famous for promoting the "Pepsi Max" drink in Britain, where his picture appears on the bottles of the drink. Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, influencers are paid up front, not after the campaigns are over.

Companies are always looking for these influencers to use to promote the products or services they provide. But the impact is not limited to commercial products, but extends beyond it to other areas such as political, social and environmental activities. The greatest influence comes from influencers on youth sectors that do not care about traditional advertising.

But there are broad sectors in the market that still believe that the best method for sustainable marketing is direct recommendation face to face and not in the virtual world, with a success rate of at least 80 percent.

There are also many risks associated with the use of influencers in the marketing of certain goods, as any random behavior of the influencer can reflect on the reputation of the company and the goods it produces. There are many cases where marketing deals from influencers have been canceled due to scandals they were involved in or offensive statements.

US laws force influencers to disclose how much they get paid and to write that the content they write is sponsored by the company, while in Britain there is an amicable and voluntary agreement, signed at the beginning of this year, for influencers to comply with prevailing consumer protection laws.

As in many areas of marketing and public relations, there are also false categories of influencers who buy votes, preferences and comments from other sites to use to deceive companies and charge them to promote their products. Instagram is trying its best to shut down sites that sell follower votes.

A British advertising agency conducted a test experiment designing two fake websites for supposed influencers that it bought online votes for and promoted among companies. And the company discovered that some big companies had responded to the scam and believed it.

In another survey that included seven thousand influencers, the results proved that four out of seven sites of influencers were deceptive and false. In another study, 12 per cent of influencers in Britain bought fake votes to deceive companies and followers. Deceptive influencer fraud, including vote-buying, costs companies about $1.3 billion, or 15 percent of total annual spending in 2019 on influencers.

There is another category of supposed influencers, which are fictitious characters invented by their owners in order to resemble real characters. It may be famous characters, cartoons or mysterious characters, attracting the audience, answering questions and expressing opinions on all topics through its designers. Some consider these characters also to be deceptive influencers.

There is a lot of research in the market about the degree of trust that influencers have in many areas. Opinions differ according to the party that publishes this research. In general, the majority of research still indicates that there is a degree of trust between influencers and their followers and an increased demand for them from companies in the areas of marketing.

But research indicates the need to “clean” the virtual market of fake accounts, vote buying activity and false influencers, alert companies to wasting marketing money using fake or false influencers, and improve the degree of transparency from social media sites to help companies measure the actual degree of influence provided by influencers. .

To put things in perspective, the world of influencers is very small, compared to the international Internet audience, which has been proven by many researches that only four percent of Internet users trust influencers. More people trust governments (12 percent) than those who trust influencers.

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