Sleeping or conducting social media sleuthing? A difficult choice perhaps, but it would appear that we are now spending more time counting our followers than we are counting sheep. Eight hours and 41 minutes is how long the average adult in the UK spends per day on media devices, according to Ofcom, compared with the average time of eight hours and 21 minutes spent asleep. Our slavish relationship with the internet provides an excellent opportunity for e-commerce companies; in 2005, speaking at the IAB conference Bill Gates declared that the, ‘future of advertising is the internet’, and who would argue with Mr Gates. With 92% of the UK population online, businesses need to capitalise effectively on our connectivity and influencer marketing is one way in which they are attempting to do so.
Retailers aiming at the younger cohort are presented with an interesting opportunity; 99.2% of 16 – 24 year olds were recent internet users, according to the Office for National Statistics in 2016. There is unbridled opportunity to market to the younger demographic, some of who have not experienced a world without the internet. One way companies are appealing to their target audience is through so called ‘influencer marketing’ which partially relies on the audience’s impressionability.
Companies are using ‘personalities’ who possess a large social media following in their product placement campaigns. Individuals who are prepared to leave their dignity at the doorway and take part in one of the numerous reality TV shows that litter the airwaves are often rewarded with the opportunity of becoming an online influencer. It would appear that any C list celebrity worth their salt is peddling various products via their social media account; Instagram is awash with ads for tea that promises to make you slimmer, teeth whitening products, and waist trainers, to name a few.
Capitalising on Celebrity Culture
Of course the aspirational nature of celebrity culture is nothing new. The incredible popularity of Friends did not come without a price, the ‘Rachel’ was spawned in imitation of the haircut of Jennifer Aniston’s character, for which we can only look back on with deep shame. But the advent of social media has driven this influence to a whole new level, one in which individuals can be paid large sums for simply posting the product on their Instagram. According to Women’s Wear Daily, a single sponsored post from Kylie Jenner can set a brand back $100,000 – $300,000.
Social media is now a career in itself, instead of just providing a platform for individuals to interact with their established fan base alongside a career in the public eye, now willingness to merely exist (and heavily promote oneself) in the public arena has allowed for the creation of such characters as Zoella and Caspar Lee. Take Zoella, for example, who started off blogging about beauty, and other things she enjoys, and now commands an empire earning a rumoured £50,000 a month.
In fact, social media is now so lucrative that a specialist boot camp has cropped up in, where else, LA. The ‘Social Star Camp Creator’ promises to equip teenagers with the tools needed to capitalise upon the platform social media provides. Founder Nichelle Rodriguez explains, ‘This is a camp for those who want success – who want to grow their audience and engagement.’
Word of Mouth Marketing
FashionNova, an online clothing retailer, has been primarily built through Instagram thanks to online influencers. In an interview with Vice, Richard Saghain, Founder and CEO of FashionNova, mentions that they work with 3000 – 5000 influences. He describes ‘the ripple effect’ of using influencers, ‘…The more people shout us out, the more their fans shout us out. Kind of like a viral YouTube video.’ This effect can be linked to ‘word of mouth marketing’ whereby revenue is increased through positive recommendations. Research conducted by McKinsey has revealed that 20 to 50% of purchasing can be attributed to ‘word of mouth’. Using highly influential personalities, often with social media followers in the millions, consumers are advertised to in a more covert way.
While we can’t promise to make you an Instagram idol, here at Spotlight we do recruit for a variety of social media roles; have a look at our job vacancies to find out more.