How influential are influencers?

Firstly, it’s a word being bandied around but what exactly is an influencer? Merriam-webster dictionary describes an influencer as one who exerts influence: a person who inspires or guides the actions of others. In 2020 this term influencer could relate to an TikTok Instagram, YouTube, TV or Radio personality who has a huge fan base and loyal followers on whom they exert influence.

Influencer marketing or social media influencer activity is a form of marketing, this is a style of testimonial advertising. According to Adweek, the influencer marketing industry is set to reach $10 billion in worth this year.

The best and most simple example of Influencer Marketing is action is a GAA Star who influences their fans or followers to buy a product with their testimonial. An influencer can monetize this power by influencing their fans or followers to buy a product they endorse like a sports drink.
According to Forbes, influencers are uniquely positioned to tell authentic, relatable stories on how they use products. This creates the "why should I care?" moment for consumers that drives sales. Forbes also references a TapInfluence study performed by Nielsen Catalina which found that sales from a food-centred influencer program performed about 11 times better than a typical banner advertising campaign.

In order to get the best return on investment, it’s all about matching the right influencer with the right product so that the endorsement looks authentic. A TV personality with no interest in sports or fitness endorsing athleisure wear might not make sense, whereas a personal trainer endorsing athleisure does. It’s a simple win.

Does influencer marketing fall under advertising? Yes, the Advertising Standards Authority Ireland (ASAI) for Ireland calls on bloggers and influencers to fully declare marketing communications in their posts.

According to the ASAI, a website where celebrities or influencers are sponsored by brands or paid directly to promote a product, it must be clear these posts are marketing communications. To achieve this, the ASAI is encouraging the use of a clearly identifiable hashtag such as #Ad or #Sp. The chosen identifier must also be immediately included and clear from the beginning of the content. Disclaimers should be visible for consumers to see before they interact with / read the relevant material. A disclaimer, for example, below-the-fold on websites, in terms and conditions, or at the end of the marketing communication is not sufficient.