ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK: How much influence do 'influencers' really have?

18 March 2018 - 00:14 By ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

It has been the noisiest buzzword in marketing for the past two years. Massive budgets are being thrown at it. Yet, much of the spending on the so-called "influencer" is going to waste.
Typically, big brands recruit "celebrities" with massive followings to serve as messengers to share branded content with their online fans. For example, luxury bag brand Coach contracted singer and actor Selena Gomez to punt its products via her Instagram account, the most followed in the world.
In social media, personalities who are unknown in the mainstream often build up communities of followers that come to be regarded as communities of influence in their own right.
Brands then recruit these "micro-influencers", in effect, on the same basis as the mainstream stars: as minor celebrities within their own niches. The size of their following denotes their value.
A question that marketers cannot answer convincingly, however, is how effective their influencer marketing strategies have been. In other words, have the influencers really had an influence on perception, loyalty or sales?
Now, a new research study has lifted the veil on how influence builds in social media.
World Wide Worx, in partnership with social intelligence platform Continuon, worked with 50 major South African brands that allowed access to their social media accounts...

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