Brands on Social Media: Using Influencers to Spread the Message

Have you ever wondered why the Kardashians constantly Instagram the same products over and over again? The answer is not “because they really love waist trainers and the product has changed their life, so they NEED to share it with the world”. The answer is “they are being paid to do so”. Plain and simple.

Marketing channels have changed with the advent of social networks. According to Mashable, we are spending more and more time on our mobile devices, browsing through our social feeds than we are watching TV. And let’s face it, even when we are watching TV, we’re either fast forwarding through commercials (I could kiss the person who invented DVRs) or we are looking through our phones while watching TV. The focus is no longer 100% on the televisions screens, magazines or other traditional ad platforms. This has changed the way brands market to their consumers.

While sponsorships and endorsements are not a new phenomena, the way brands are now using every day people to market is. Think about it. 15 years ago, endorsements were reserved only for the elite: athletes, supermodels and hollywood stars. Today, any blogger with a big enough following can be paid to endorse a product. Yes, it’s true.

Not only that, but these “endorsements” are different. They don’t look the same as they used to either. They are very subtle and at times may seem like the endorsee really loves the product. That’s the beauty of social media – brands are using the intimacy of influencers every day lives to market their products. This is quite different from the old method of a high cost, professionally produced advertisement. There are a few variations of endorsements. For example, you can see below that Kylie is endorsing waist gang society and Lyfe Tea. This is the more blatant of them, as most people would be able to discern that this is a promotional message. In this scenario, the brands want the influencer to overtly promote their product. It’s also worth noting that some influencers are more honest and mention that the post is an ad or sponsored.

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There are also other types of brand messaging that are more subtle and aren’t always as obvious. You can see below that Kylie has obvious product placement with both the Saint Laurent and the Givenchy bag, but it’s unclear whether she is fully endorsing these products. In this case, the brands may want it to seem like the influencer uses this product on a daily basis and for it to seem less like an ad. I’m not sure as to which scenario would be more expensive for the brand, but in my opinion, the more subtle placement may be more valuable over time, potentially leading to trends.

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Another popular method used by some brands is to ask the influencer to review their product. Below are two examples of Gal Meets Glam’s Julia Engel. In both cases she writes a blog post about her experience with the products, complete with lots of imagery.

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While countless example of these types of sponsorships can be found in my Instagram feed on any given day, for a lay person, the way brands are using influencers to get across their messaging may not always be so obvious. That is what makes this type of marketing so effective.