Over the last year the influencer industry has garnered a plethora of negative connotations from both the general public and brands, with many people struggling to understand why these ‘influencers’ are so-called ‘famous’. But, with the ASA cracking down on influencer marketing and consumers demanding authenticity and credibility on social media, it begs the question: What does the future hold for influencer marketing?

To help tackle the big questions and negative perceptions surrounding the relatively premature industry, Talent Village hosted a discussion ‘Influence v Talent’ which brought together a panel of industry professionals to debate both the faults and promise of the influencer space.

These were our major take outs from the talk:

1. Co-create, don’t dictate

For Instagram fitness-blogger, Flora Beverley, known on Instagram as @FoodFitnessFlora, the term ‘influencer’ has become almost a dirty word with people unable to see the talent behind online content. Flora, along with many other influencers, now refer to themselves as content creators as it gives them more credibility and allows them to distance themselves from the ‘one size fits all’ term. The food-fitness blogger expressed that the best campaigns she has worked on are the ones where brands include you in the beginning processes. By being involved in the early stages of the campaign brief, content creators can suggest ideas and concepts that they know will resonate with their own audience. Many content creators are specialists in their fields, from food blogging to interior design, so it’s no surprise that influencers are tired of receiving prescriptive briefs telling them exactly what their caption should say and how they should capture their content. I think it’s safe to say we are all tired of seeing ex-Love Islanders pose with charcoal toothpaste and hair vitamins?

2. Push for always-on content

In an overly saturated market, consumers want to feel they are being sold trustworthy recommendations and advice. To tackle the issue of ingenuine content, William Soulier, CEO & Co-founder at Talent Village, believes that the key to growing the influencer industry is that brands need to think long term. Too often do we see brands have a huge spike in influencer marketing over the Christmas period for 2 weeks with little thought behind the influencers and the content itself. Instead, brands should consider running an influencer campaign for far longer periods of time and building that relationship between brand and influencer. Yes, these longer-term campaigns will have fewer influencers and inevitably incur higher costs but with higher quality content that will be able to cut-through the mundane sponsored posts over an extended period, why would brands think otherwise?

3. Goodbye vanity measures

A common misconception among both brands and general public is that influencers with large followings must be valuable and therefore worth splashing the cash. However, brands (and agencies) are now realising, thankfully, that these vanity measures are not the holy grail of influencer marketing. Think about it, you may run a parent-blog and have 1000 extremely loyal followers who trust your ethos and honest content, therefore are probably far more likely to purchase a product you recommend. The industry is becoming less concerned about vanity measures but more about how well you know your audience to influence their purchase decisions.

So, with all that being said, if brands and agencies learn to co-create with influencers for better quality content, opt for long-term campaigns instead of short bursts of influencer activity and think more about the influencers following than vanity numbers, could the industry start to shed its negative connotation and redeem itself?

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