Thoughts on the value traditional influencers provide to brands, and alternative ways to leverage authenticity through customer advocacy.

Blog, Our Thinking

Brands are looking in the wrong place for influencers

influencer and UGC marketing

Traditional influencers are losing trust amongst consumers

Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective as a trusted and authentic marketing source. With so many paid posts finding their way onto your Instagram feed, it’s becoming easy for them to blur into one, and be dismissed after “#ad”, or “in paid partnership with…”. 

Stricter guidelines and rules around promotional posts removes much of the authenticity and personal touch that existed in the first place, which has left only 2% of consumers trusting typical celebrity influencer recommendations. 

This, combined with more and more emphasis around ‘fake followers’, makes you question how valuable a marketing channel this is for enterprise brands – at least when looking for channels with real potential for long term success.

That doubt and shift in perspective is fast becoming a consumer standard, with 61% of consumers now finding content from micro-influencers the most relatable, a format quickly overtaking traditional influencer marketing. The name may sound similar, but the medium and principal is quite dramatically different, with micro influencers typically having a smaller, but much more engaged audience, and following a particular interest or niche.

Authentic marketing is key

90% of marketers believe that proving authenticity is critical to the future of influencer marketing. Are traditional influencers the ones actually influencing car purchasing decisions? Or, are the people with the most influence the ones who are genuine customers of the brand, with a true belief and connection to the brand.  Although they may be sharing content to a smaller number of people, the content being shared is more emotional, more genuine, and being shared with a much more engaged audience.

Make your customers your influencers

Marketing using genuine user generated content (UGC) solves the problems of trust and authenticity that influencer marketing has – an approach that gets as close as possible to a scaled version of recommendations from friends – a format which is trusted around 5 times more than celebrity recommendations.

Aside from the huge difference in consumer trust, there’s also a real difference in the content, with UGC being more true to life, relatable and real. Here’s one example from Porsche, where the brand has sought dedicated advocates of it’s 992 model across the world and is publishing those customer stories via a dynamic web experience – a campaign providing the brand with masses of long form high quality UGC marketing content. Compare that to a traditional influencer campaign and the feeling of authenticity is starkly different.

UGC marketing examples

Micro influencers and UGG marketing is about far more than just gathering better quality content. Brands have an opportunity to open a long term dialogue with their customers, and content creators, if they can find them at scale. It’s a case of balancing scaled technology and workflows so that those more personal relationships have the best chance of being uncovered, surfaced and then nurtured over time.

A change in mindset

The fast changing automotive landscape calls for brands to find new ways to create customer centric marketing, across the channels consumers want to engage with. Most brands already do a great job of being present on social channels but the shift that’s needed is one in mindset to recognise that true influencers are not a separate and newly emerging marketing medium, but in fact the brands existing customers, who are out there below the surface already representing the brand. For example, the parent who has purchased from the same automotive brand for the last 20 years and praises their models to friends over every coffee or to family at every gathering, or the newly qualified driver sharing photos of their first car to their 300+ followers on social media.

Find your best influencers, share their stories

The approach that’s needed is to begin seeing influencers not as a separate channel sitting within social media external to the brand, but as an effort to start recognising and engaging with those hidden, unsung advocates whose loyalty and enthusiasm exist not because of one campaign to encourage it, because of the long term focus on customers satisfaction the brand has already invested in.