This is a guest post provided by Laura Oberbüscher from Squarelovin.
At the beginning of the 2010s it seems, they appeared out of thin air and soon became the number one topic of discussion: Influencers. Influencer marketing quickly established itself as the new secret weapon in the marketing mix – and rightly so. Influencers opened up new opportunities for authentic and customer-oriented marketing at a comparatively low price. Countless studies show that customers are often influenced in their purchasing decisions by recommendations from peers. But exactly this honest recommendation from a friend that influencers embodied at first, is slowly beginning to fade. In fact, 61% of marketers are struggling to find influencers that really match their brand.
From faking co-operations to increase credibility, over staged motorcycle accidents including product placement, to the major disaster named Fyre Festival, influencers have recently been making quite some negative headlines. This has been heavily affecting their credibility. Less and less consumers consider recommendations made by influencers to be honest and trustworthy. Hence, a new group is moving into focus: Organic influencers.
What reads like a contradiction at first glance, actually describes users who buy products out of their own interest and share content related to the respective brand. With Organic Influencers, the numbers of followers are not of great importance. Instead, creativity, passion, and inspiration are what counts, regardless of 20 or 2,000 likes per post. This also marks the biggest difference to classic influencers: while traditional influencers are commissioned by brands to generate content, organic influencers become creative on their own and thus automatically appear more authentic. This is also echoed by various studies on the effect of User-Generated Content: a strong 92% of consumers state that they trust UGC more than branded content. In addition, 81% agree that UGC influences their buying decisions.
WORST PRACTICE CASES INFLUENCER
Influencers are increasingly being criticized for entering into collaborations purely out of the motivation to snatch free products or earning money without actually giving thought to what they are advertising. And indeed, the examples undermining this are countless.
One of these has been provided by Carmen Kroll, aka @carmushka, one of Germany’s most popular Influencers. For a co-operation with Artdeco Cosmetics, carmushka shared images with a caption that stated her love for dramatic lashes. The only problem with that: her eyes were hidden behind dark black sunglasses.
Or Ebru Yildirim, known on Instagram as @nazjuju, who shared an image with the caption “hey, let’s save our planet”, while waiting on her plane from Stuttgart to Hamburg (ca. 500km distance) and wearing a sweater from ZARA, a brand known for being part of the fast fashion industry.
Initially, Influencers became popular because they were close to consumers for one, but also very creative when it comes to taking photos and videos. Sometimes, however, influencers get a bit too creative and drift away from reality, which ultimately makes their posts unauthentic. Natalie, also known as @nallilore for example, shared a gorgeous shot of herself in a hotel pool while on vacation once..with her electric OralB toothbrush.
One last worst-case example is the laundry detergent brand Coral, which ran an influencer marketing campaign a little while back. Sure, laundry detergent is not the easiest product to get creative with, but many influencers that were part of the campaign took it completely out of context. Whether it was sitting in a public spot, posing with a bottle of coral or having the detergent right there in the middle of the bed while having morning coffee with a loved one.
BEST PRACTICE CASES ORGANIC INFLUENCERS
Dwindling credibility, however, is not the only reason consumers are losing connection to Influencers. Many, especially large, Influencers are by now leading a lifestyle far from that of the average Instagram user, which leads to a significant loss of proximity and potential for identification. This is why organic influencers and user-generated content are becoming increasingly popular in the marketing mix of many brands.
The snowboard brand NITRO has recently begun incorporating precisely such user-generated content in the form of an inspirational gallery on the brand website. The gallery provided by squarelovin offers a wide variety of customer pictures, sometimes shot with professional equipment, sometimes snapshots from a smartphone camera. Each one of them serves authentic impressions of the NITRO brand, underlines the brand image and gives personality to the respective products.
Jack Wolfskin is one of the leading brands in the field of outdoor gear and clothing and has been around for many years. With the goal to attract younger customers and spark desire for adventure, they began investing in UGC campaigns around 2018. Today, a large gallery filled with Instagram posts shared by Jack Wolfskin customers is now an essential part of their website and shows countless breathtaking expressions of people enjoying the outdoors with Jack Wolfskin.
The northern German jewelry brand Paul Hewitt can be considered an early adopter when it comes to investing in organic influencers and focussing on user generated content marketing. Early on, the brand cooperated with a bunch of influencers, to set the tone for their visual identity. Soon, the customer community adopted this style and began sharing content that looked very much alike. Today, visuals created by the brand are sometimes even hard to distinguish from their UGC, as it all blends in so well. This way, Paul Hewitt has successfully used organic influencers to create a close relationship between consumer and brand.
UGC DRIVES AD PERFORMANCE
User-generated content is authentic and personal, which makes it particularly suitable for social ads. Unlike perfectly posed photos from expensive shoots or isolated product images, UGC offers a high potential for identification and thus automatically catches the eye of customers who fall into the respective target group. squarelovin’s UGC Management Tool allows brands to find this authentic content and make it usable for marketing purposes. For each individual image and video, individual usage rights are requested. Thus, UGC obtained via squarelovin can be easily placed in advertisements, for example, social ads. A great way to create highly engaging social ads is to integrate user-generated content in short animated video sequences. In order to ensure the best possible performance for your ads, it’s important to create eye-catching visuals that grab your audience’s attention. This can best be done with a little help from professionals, for example, the team at Performante, which specializes in the creation of video ads.