by Gary Knight

Why Influencers are no longer ‘Waste Cadets’.
What a melt! Unless you have been visiting your Great Auntie Edith in the upper reaches of the Orinoco, then the real event of the summer has begun…no, not the World Cup but Love Island! With over 85,000 hopefuls applying for the show (apparently more candidates than apply to get into Oxbridge) then this season promises to eclipse the dizzy heights the series reached in 2017. In fact, the first episode reached 3.5 million people, more than last year’s grand finale.
So, aside from putting down your list of irregular French verbs & learning the ‘new language of Love Island, ‘ have you been in the ‘Blazin’Squad ? ‘, then the other phenomenon the show raises is the modern world of ‘ Influencers’ & how they are interacting with brands.
Since I have been working with Champions, The Brand Agency & their highly regarded Influencers Team , I have been amazed at how this genre has moved on from its origins of ‘YouTube videos in my bedroom ‘, with Zoella & her crowd promoting make up, fashion items etc, to a robust & often mainstream marketing activity that is proving highly profitable & effective for client companies.
So, let’s explore a little deeper & uncover the real truth about the Influencer Market.
Straight out of the blocks is the fact that this market is already huge. In 2017, Influencer marketing carried an estimated worth of $2bn. But in just two years, we will see it bring in $10bn, as Influencers continue to take the market to new heights.
Influencer marketing is the digital alternative to word-of-mouth marketing. By using an individual with a vast social media following, brands can communicate a message, product, opinion or campaign to a mass audience.
Influencers are no longer land locked on social media sites as brands have begun to utilise their power across the whole Multiplatform ecosystem, from PR, to Experiential to Direct Marketing.
I am also greatly encouraged by some of the unified creativity in play across various Influencer led campaigns. Some of my favourite recent examples are :
Microsoft ‘Real People: Emma Gannon’ – part of a TV ad and online videos. One of the first major TV ads using an influencer.
Here is another brilliant example, with a very different twist :
L’Oréal and The Princes Trust campaign ‘All Worth It’ – wanting to have a bigger purpose then just selling products and giving back to the community. Using Influencer and brand ambassadors from all walks of life to talk about challenges they have faced; (example of the content one of the influencers has produced) (another example)

So why is this ‘gang’ so popular with brands & consumers alike?
– They are leaders of their tribe: Influencers have become experts in their industry. Categorising their videos and content makes it far easier for consumers to find them & attach themselves to the ongoing dialogue.
– They are brilliant storytellers: while simply mentioning a brand in a video or blog can be beneficial, it often lacks authenticity between brand and Influencer.
So, Influencers often create a narrative around a brand they collaborate with. They show followers how the brand slots into their personal lifestyle.
Both of these key benefits link into our Human DNA, as at out heart we are a ‘social’ species & we crave contact with each other. Being part of & accepted into a ‘tribe’ lives at the very of our being.
– They have 24-hour access to target audiences: Influencer marketing is an industry that never sleeps. No matter what time of day it is, there is always content to be read and watched.
This means Influencers, and subsequently the brands they work with, have an endless opportunity to reach out to their audiences in all four corners of the world. After all, while one audience sleeps, the other is awake and ready to engage.
This sounds all fab, but is there any real evidence that client companies get ‘real payback’ from their association with this talent ?
Indeed, there is! Recent research has found that for every £1 spent on a talent-led campaign, brands are getting back £17.21 – making their move into Influencer marketing an extremely financially sound choice.
Of course, there are hurdles along the path & it is vital that brands find the right influencers & build campaigns with them that have an ‘authentic voice’. Even ardent fans will spot a mile off an Influencer who is ‘flogging’ a brand that is completely out of sync with their own personality/values/core area of expertise.
Managing Influencer campaigns needs to rest in expert hands & 84% of clients recently surveyed stated that it was vital to use a specialist agency, such as Champions, to maximise the effectiveness of these relationships.
Brands desperately need to create emotional attachments with consumers & in my mind’s eye I believe Influencers can become ‘ the ultimate marketing machine’.
I’m off to catch up on last night’s Love Island, otherwise everyone will think I have gone all ‘muggy’.

Gary Knight
About Gary Knight
Why Influencers are no longer ‘Waste Cadets’.