Influencer VS Brand: Who REALLY Has The Power?
Social influencers are seen as some of the biggest players in advertising and business growth these days and the power these people have is beyond what anyone would have expected even five or six years ago.
I've met tonnes of influencers during my time working in the media and more often times than none they avoid such branding at all cost.
"I'm an... influencer, but I hate that word."
So why exactly does the term influencer leave a stale taste in our mouths?
Basically, it's a very new world and a lot of mistakes have been made that have really pissed people off. People have been lied to or have been encouraged to buy products that seem a bit... iffy.
As a result, people have developed a negative attitude toward influencers across the entire social media sphere, but is it really their fault?
It seems to me like influencers get the entire blame and nothing is said about the companies who told them what to say.
Influencers essentially own a very small business, that being their personality and social media accounts. Yes, they should know better - to develop their own brand and stick to partnerships that fall under this umbrella, of course, but let me tell you - it's a tough industry, sometimes the money's not there for the niche you've chosen. I can see why deals like this have been made - we all have to make a living.
I've talked more about this "How Having An Opinion Has Become A Risk In The Blogging World" if you'd like to learn more about this topic, but today I want to focus on the buzz word - power.
Who really has the power in this situation, the brand or the influencer?
Each situation is different, of course.
When an influencer signs a deal with a brand they will most likely receive a list of everything that needs to be covered. Some brands will give a general list, others will give a checklist that needs to be followed to a tee. The bigger and more experienced influencers will definitely have more of a say in this and be able to negotiate a happy medium for both parties - a mutualism if you will.
On many occasions however, it can be the brand with the power - they are the ones with the money after all. Some brands can be very sticky and picky so there's a lot of pressure involved in the work that needs to be done.
Let's say you're going to a hotel, it's a rare deal that you show up and take a few pictures of what you like.
Usually this is how it plays out:
(This is just a mock-up example I made)
Now I know what you're probably thinking - sure this is boujee, getting paid to stay in a hotel and have a meal and cocktails. Yes of course that's fab but having a checklist like this is exactly why people are getting fed up of influencers.
They're just covering and saying exactly what the companies want, there's so little authenticity anymore.
It's almost like putting a real-life Instagram filter over their personality, content and profile.
Even if the influencer added their own twist to the stories, they may have had to send them to the company for approval and may have been edited as a result.
On top of all of this a company could prevent you from saying certain words, promoting other brands etc.
At the end of the day, it's all business.
Problem is, followers are getting frustrated because they've probably followed their favourite influencers for their character, not their advertising skills.
Well, it's tit for tat these days - most big influencers are going to do sponsored content and that's just a matter of fact, that's how they make their income.
Is this situation ever going to improve?
Yes. I really do believe it is.
Nowadays big influencers are picking brands they would love to work with and going to them themselves - this makes for more organic and honest content because they already use and like the product they're promoting.
As well as that, the most successful influencers are the ones who've managed to keep their character and charm even when they do sponsored or paid for content - I think this is something that's improving across the board.
Brands also see the importance of working with influencers whose niche relates to their product e.g a cleaning product could work with Mrs. Hinch and clothing brand could work with Ciara O' Doherty - it's all starting to make a little more sense and appeal to the correct audience - not just most followed accounts.
I predict that micro influencers are going to be huge players in the next few years too. A lot of them have high interactions and a loyal audience. This will be an easy way for brands to connect to a concentrated community.
It will soon boil down to authenticity from both the brand and influencer - that is where the real power lies.
The next few years ahead in the influencer world will be interesting - I look forward to watching how it continues to shape how we market, reach audiences and communicate with one another.
What a crazy world we live in!