Are We Over-Influenced?

Hello Darling!

Lets chat. In this day of social media and sharing 24/7, have we become over-influenced? We are bombarded with advertising and sponsored content all day, every day. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, television, magazines - does it ever stop?

Listen, I'm a Consumer. Capital C. Always have been - trying to change, but it's a hard sell. One thing that's always been important to me is sustainability - not necessarily because of climate change (though that's reason enough) but because I like to spend my hard-earned money on things that will last. Not on a trend that I'll be done with ith after a season or two.

I love advertising, branding, and marketing. These days, though, we are being marketed to by everyone - not just the brands themselves. Everyone has a side-hustle. What's great about this is that more women (and men) are taking their passions and turning them into moneymakers. This does, however, add family and friends to the list with many work-from-home opportunities.

Years ago, we had advertising primarily from magazines and television. Celebrities had sponsorships but you knew they were just that - sponsored. These days it's way more ambiguous. The last decade has brought not only social media but influencers into the forefront. We receive ads on all the previously-named social media platforms but they now know exactly what we've searched and talked about. This is brilliant for business but is it for the average consumer? Probably yes and no.

Influencers are a big part of marketing these days.
- 65% of influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2020
- 20% of marketers will spend $100,000-500,000 in the next year while 10% will spend over a million dollars.
- 20% spend over half their marketing budget on influencers.

Are influencers organic (authentic) in what they promote? I think it's probably different based on each person. I know people who accept every collaboration they get, and others who are very particular.
How does one tell the difference? If every quarter they're telling you which robotic vacuum is their favorite - they probably aren't. But sometimes it's not so easy to tell.

The main part of doing sponsored campaigns is letting your audience know it's just that. Sponsored. The FTC requires that this is disclosed in every post. You must disclose if you have any financial, employment, personal, or family relationship to a brand. Posting about your brother-in-law's local gym? You must disclose. If you've received free or discounted products/services, you must disclose it. Readers must be able to see and easily understand your relationship with the brand.

The problem with not disclosing is that your followers are unsure if you were compensated to promote. I see people all the time who state "This is NOT sponsored" when referring to a product/service in their feed or stories. What does this mean? That everything else they promote IS sponsored? There is no need to ever say this unless you don't properly disclose.

I  believe that influencers (especially) have the responsibility to make this known. It doesn't mean that they don't love the product they're posting about. It just makes it ambiguous. I decline many pitches daily. If the product isn't something I LOVE, you guys will know (and call me out on it.) That's the relationship we have - and I love. I've been sent products that I end up not loving and always have a stipulation that won't post if that's the case.

I've always been influenced by my friends. They are a great resource, often sharing a similar style and taste level - and have authentic opinions. There has been a trend lately of brands themselves participating in the fake review scam. Most recently Sunday Riley and Drunk Elephant have admitted to this with Sunday Riley going so far as to requiring employees to do this as "homework." Even giving them instructions on how to hide their IP address and post at least 3 reviews on Sephora while mentioning specific qualities of the product that has been maligned in previous reviews. Therefore making the 'influencing' completely fake as opposed to simply biased. As a person that does copious amounts of research about skin care products, this makes for a minefield to sift through.

I digress....
Most of my favorite brands don't really post on social and most definitely do not have people posting/promoting them. I buy from them because I adore them and don't need to be told that by anyone.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying all this is bad. We are so lucky to have the resources available to us to check out everything, everywhere - be informed, and buy the best products we can. I've learned and been introduced to so many wonderful things thanks to social media.

Store catalogs were back then what online shopping is now. A way to see what stores had in stock without ever getting in your car. I wanted every toy and cereal that ran commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. At that time there were only a few ways to get your brand before consumers. Now that opportunity is unlimited.

Are you over-influenced? Do you base your purchases on what you see on social media? Are you more apt to buy if it's a retailer direct ad?

When does it become too much? Can it ever? Is this the same culture that was prevalent 20-30 years ago? Or is it just what the world of marketing is now?
Let me know your thoughts.

Until next time,


Sutton said...

I’m so glad you finally found the words to share this: so eloquently! We are 100% ‘over influenced’. Many of the brands I see EVERY Influencer posting about I won’t even CONSIDER because how great is your product REEEEALLLY if you need 200 people sharing it daily with promo codes?

Quality > Quantity every day of the year.

Amanda said...

One of my favorite topics!

Big YES to what Sutton said. As both a consumer and a marketer, I am not a huge fan of the constant barrage approach. When every influencer is posting about one brand, the overload makes my brain shut down a little (same if I see a commercial on television over and over again in a short period of time).

I also generally won't read a review with a headline that says it's an "HONEST" review of a product (especially if 15 "honest" reviews show up in my search results). I would hope the review is honest, and telling me (instead of showing me through the balanced quality of the review) immediately sends up a red flag.

With that said, there are influencers I follow, listen to and have attended or purchased something because of. However, that's because their recommendations are high quality/less frequent quantity, and their non-promotional posts have given me something to connect to that builds my trust in their recommendations.

Crystal said...

Great post! I definitely see a lot of examples of influencers not properly disclosing. They feel that if they don't get paid cash that they're off the hook. It's super frustrating.

I feel that when EVERYTHING that someone does is sponsored, or is being linked so you buy it, that they lose credibility.

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