Influencer Marketing: What Happens when what shouldn’t Happen, Happens?

Influencer marketing is here to stay. In this article, we offer some thoughts to keep in mind.

In a context where ad revenues are threatened by the presence of ad blockers, brands are forced to find new ways to reach their audiences.

One alternative is to seek out influential people on social media to carry the advertisers’ message, in exchange for some kind of compensation for the influencer.

In so doing, the product appears "organically" integrated into the daily content created by the influencer to communicate with his or her followers on social media.

Up to this point, everything ties in seamlessly— on the one hand, brands can reach their audiences in an environment related to their values (through a legitimate voice that is respected by users), and on the other hand, influencers can profit from the hours they spend maintaining their relationship with their followers (which they would do anyway, just for the fun of it).

In other words, it’s as if the brands selected certain popular voices on social media and paid them to be themselves (who wouldn’t want to make money for being oneself?).

The dilemma arises when the brand "forces" this spontaneity, worrying more about plausibility than the credibility of the influencer selected to carry its message.

The Axe case

A similar scenario happened in Argentina recently. Axe, within the framework of the #VosTenesLoTuyo campaign, apparently created a supposed relationship between a homely boy and a popular “It” Girl (both of them well-known thanks to their participation in different highly-rated reality shows on open television).

The uproar on social media was such that both of them were forced to reveal the truth behind their alleged romantic encounters published on Instagram.

What is not clear is whether this confession was all part of the brand's plan, or whether it was due to the influencers’ lack of experience (which means no one would have subsequently wanted to hire them as influencers if this "suicide confession" had not been part of the original plan).

For its part, the brand circulated a video in which it gave its version of events, although it is impossible to know if this was carried out as part of its strategy reveal, or whether it was a release of liability in response to breaching the confidentiality agreement of the influencers contracted to carry out this action.

Some thoughts

There are various questions that arise from this scenario. Should we underestimate the users’ intelligence by expecting them to not differentiate between paid and organic messages? Is there a disadvantage to hiring an influencer to convey a brand’s message, as long as the influencer agrees with the brand’s values and considering they would use the product in question anyway? Is it questionable for brands to openly reveal that they encountered some marketing action by influencers to reach their consumers in a novel way?

Users’ behavior makes Influencer Marketing one of the key strategies for 2017. However, before embarking on any action of this kind, it is important to keep possible repercussions in mind and be prepared to respond to any contingencies that arise.


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