Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA Viewpoints – Future of Influencer Marketing: The dismantling of ‘pay to shout’

By Somachi Egejuru, Brand Strategist, Limitless Influence  

With the big, social platforms reaching a high stage of maturity, this ‘influencer marketing’ industry has seemed to explode out of nowhere. But here’s the thing, it was always there.

People have always gravitated towards others they feel they can relate to, whether that is through physical resemblance, background, story or interests. However, outlets for expression used to be limited to traditional media, which operate at a completely different scale.

Pages were limited and it just didn’t make sense to consistently push someone who may appeal to 200,000 people in something that you want to circulate to a million people.

What do you do instead? Choose the athlete, actor or entertainer that has that recognition in the millions.

Pay to shout

The power in influencers comes from them being discovered by their audiences on the platforms, rather than pushed upon them. This could be just from the workings of the algorithms that we will never truly understand, or the even more coveted ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations.

Companies recognised the value in the strength of those relationships and saw it as an opportunity to get their products in front of new, engaged audiences, often in exchange of free products or monetary compensation. We’ve all seen the posts: Weight-loss tea, watches, supplements…

These are often short-term relationships that have quick, isolated payback periods and the post content carries little value beyond its optimal engagement window.

We term this method of brands engaging with influencers as ‘Pay to Shout’. Quite simply, you pay for the recognition and association with your brand, as well as a message distributed to their followers.

It can produce short-term results but this is where you see a lot of fraud and disappointment or questions surrounding effectiveness, as marketers often pay fees based on expected outcomes estimated by ‘engagement rates’ or ‘follower count’.

With pay to shout, everybody is on a level playing field and the main variable often is how much a brand is willing to pay for a post. Of course, access to creators is dependent on the size of one’s marketing budget, with big brands having the most advantage.

However, you end up with a situation where brands with budgets in the millions are essentially competing and using the same strategies as those with literally fractions of that — with both working towards the same type of payback periods. Let that sink in.

Future Thinking

The future lies in recognising the constants. People will always look to others, whether that’s for inspiration or in admiration. People will continue to consume and be influenced by content, especially now we have access to it on demand. Video is the most immersive form of content, Cisco predicts that by 2022  over 80% of internet traffic  will be through video.

At Limitless, we specialise in creating branded video content that resembles a mini box set rather than a traditional advertisement.

The aim is to produce content that people would want to actively watch, as opposed to ads that people are forced to sit through, by creatively integrating media personalities’ focus areas with a brand’s core offering. This way, the content has value far beyond any product they are looking to push, which means more longevity, contrasting with today’s ‘quick-hits’ and disappearing story content.

Now, instead of amplifying a specific product of yours through their channels, the influencer has a vested interest in the content performing well and generating a positive reaction with their audience.

You only need to look at Gymshark and analyse its rise to witness the power of this dynamic between brand, influencer and end consumer.

Mailchimp’s Mark DiCristina summarised it best, “It felt like, as long as we’re sponsoring shows, we’re paying rent to get in front of people. We’re interrupting the thing that they want to be engaged with. And we go away the minute we stop paying”.

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