Democratisation Of Influencer Community And Perception Building
Brands are engaging with social media influencers as its cost efficient compared to celebrity or urban influencers, provides credibility to endorsements, enjoys a rateability factor and, speak in the same language to the target audience.
The impact of social media has been constantly increasing in our lives. What started out primarily as a medium to stay connected with friends and family, slowly evolved to popular networking platforms as well. Ranging from networking with people who have similar interests, hobbies or even opinions on a certain issue, to professional networking platforms, social media is intertwined with our lives presently, to the extent that it has become indispensable. With the growing power of social media, corporates and brands were quick to realise the importance of various platforms to stay engaged with its current and potential consumers. Corporates catering to B2B as well as B2C are present on multiple social media platforms as it offers a direct line of communication with its customers. Further, unlike advertisements, this provides the opportunity for two-way communication resulting in corporates taking consumer feedback and addressing them real time, and is more credible as it comes directly from the corporate.
The advent of influencers
Like two sides of a coin, social media has its own set of challenges as well. News is not released at pre-specified times any longer. It is available on social media 24*7. Further owing to the communities that users have built on their social media profiles, an adverse news or a negative review or feedback can be escalated in a matter of few seconds and it can go viral, thereby potential disrupting the brand’s image. Further, anybody who has a presence on social media platform can become a voice to influence current and potential customers, both positively and negatively. In a bid to counter such challenges, corporates came up with a solution to build a positive image and positioning for themselves – leveraging social media influencers. This gave birth to an entirely new field of marketing – Influencer Marketing
The role of influencers
As the name suggests, influencer marketing is leveraging influencers to endorse a brand, product / service, or even an idea among their followers. Typically, social media influencers would have a few common characteristics :
· They have a high number of followers (significantly higher than an average Joe on social platforms)
· The enjoy a wide audience outreach due to their sheer popularity on various platforms
· They actively engage with their followers on social platforms by having a proper content strategy in place
· And most importantly commands trust and faith of their followers to the point of influencing their decisions, and are therefore, leveraged by brands from a marketing perspective
So, who can be an influencer?
Definitely, anybody who meets the qualities specified!
It is interesting to note that while some brands do rope in celebrities for the endorsement, there is always lesser relatability with common folks. Additionally, they question the credibility of the endorsement as they are often found to be endorsing a product of a nominal value, but in reality would be seen using a very high end variation of the product. Hence, this is considered as an eyewash by many. Gone are the days when celebrities would be the only influencers.
Gen Z of today believes in questioning things and will not settle for anything less till they have satisfactory answers. Given this quality, it is difficult to convince them with celebrity endorsements. This lead to the wave of increasing millennial social media influencers across platforms. Brands were quick to realise that there was an increased sense of relatability that millennials enjoyed with these influencers and have a higher probability of trying out products and services being endorsed by them. For instance, people on social media are more interested in watching a person with skin problems review a skincare product rather than a celebrity with flawless skin. Similarly when it comes to buying the latest gadgets available, the youth of today would rather read the blog or follow the product review by other youths like them who would have more honest or relatable concerns and needs.
The future of influencer marketing in India
Word of mouth has typically worked as a very effective marketing strategy in India through the passage of time. There is a spirit of community and trust that Indians enjoy and this extends to most facets of life, including purchase decision making. Moreover, given its close knit communities, regional languages enjoy higher popularity among its domiciles because of the diverse cultures across states.
This thought process led to the rise of local influencers on social media platforms. The social media wave in India is not just restricted to English speaking audience or audience sitting in metro and tier 1 cities. It has percolated to semi urban and rural areas as well. With the data cost as well as the cost of smart phones going down drastically over the last couple of years, social media platforms are witnessing participation across towns, districts and cities, pan-India. According Statista, 46.44% of our population was accessing social networks in 2019. In 2020, the number increased to over 50%, with the pandemic putting restrictions on entertainment avenues available in India. It is further estimated that by 2025, this penetration would be a whopping 67%! This ensured that the participation was not just restricted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn but also Whatsapp, Sharechat, Tiktok (till its ban), MineApp, Leher, MX TakaTak, Hello, among others. This has lead to a significant shift in the demographics of consumer profile. Hence, the growing popularity of such apps meant that businesses had to expand and establish their presence on these apps as well. The easy interface, entertainment quotient and relatable and engaging content is leading to a new demographic of influencers who are more relatable to the versatile Indian audience.
Brands are engaging with such influencers more and more with the passage of time as its cost efficient compared to celebrity or urban influencers, provides credibility to endorsements, enjoys a rateability factor and, speak in the same language to the target audience. Their content is engaging, easier to grasp by local audience, and entertaining which increases the engagement time spent on the brand page. This influencer community is shaping the way influencer marketing was approach in its initial stages and breaking boundaries, thereby also enhancing digital empowerment of the country.
Brands, are you listening?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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