The Power of Influencer Marketing
The 21st century has bred a new type of celebrity: the influencer. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an influencer is “a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media”. Brands often seek these types of individuals to promote their products and messages due to the loyalty of these celebrities’ followers. Many millennial consumers have preferred influencers whose opinions and ideas they value, and are thus more likely to purchase an influencer-supported product. This provides an enormous benefit to us as marketers…but is there also a drawback?
In late February of this year, television personality and social media star Kylie Jenner posted a tweet criticizing Snap Inc.’s newest update to their app. That same day, the company’s stock closed at -6%, which is a loss valued at approximately $1.3 billion. Though the app’s confusing redesign was released in the beginning of the month, the company did not see any real decrease in value until one of the apps biggest proponents claimed that the new interface made her, “…not open Snapchat anymore”. While influencers can provide a great value to brands, they also have the potential to severely damage their reputation if their opinion of the brand is to change for any reason.
Around the same time last year, Google’s video-sharing platform, YouTube, encountered a similar crisis with one of its influencer stars. Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, also known by his username PewDiePie, has amassed over 61 Million followers on his YouTube channel making it the most viewed channel of all time. His popularity can be attributed to his review of gaming content, which had previously been an untapped audience. Due to his increasing approval by the gaming community, Disney’s Maker Studios backed his channel beginning in 2012…but this would not last for long. After making both racist and anti-Semitic comments in his videos in early 2016, The Walt Disney Company dropped Felix from their network of influencers in fear that his comments would reflect poorly on their business. While PewDiePie may have been the most followed channel on YouTube, that does not necessarily mean that his content was favored by all audiences. This goes to show that before choosing influencers to partner with, their content should be fully vetted to avoid future controversy. Popularity does not always mean favorability!