The flight of the influencer… nothing to declare?4th September, 2018 by Rob Waldon
Social media is like the ultimate freedom of speech platform. Without making it sound like a mythical video game or some kind of futuristic zoo, there are trolls, catfish, keyboard warriors and ghost followers… all sharing their opinion on anything and everything.
For the right or wrong reasons, social channels present the opportunity for everyone – you and I, and celebrities alike – to share their views on the news, given an insight into what they’re up to, and shout about the products/services they’re using.
So, when it comes to a brand endorsement, the rise of social media presented a genuine platform for everyone, giving celebrities and influencers more control to align themselves with the things they love. The move instigated a new wave of brand fandom, a step away from glossy ad photoshoots and television campaigns that seemed to force a celebrity’s face on their product in a clear financial endorsement.
But while social media can present a genuine opportunity for authentic brand synergy (in fact, it’s the topic of our last blog post, Love at First Swipe), news broke recently that some of Britain’s biggest household names are misleading their followers. The Competition and Markets Authority launched a major investigation (it’s on the Government website, so you know it’s pretty serious) after finding evidence that posts by “influencers” may be endorsing goods or services without declaring they are being paid to do so. Basically, on face value, followers are being duped into thinking these posts are the real opinion of the poster, and not carefully crafted captions from a copywriting genius. Not cool. Not cool for the brand, not cool for the influencers involved and certainly not cool for trusting followers.
What does it all meme?
The social space is becoming more crowded than the northern line in rush hour (I would kn0w). And in certain cases, #ad is being crammed in a bit too much like an armpit in the face… and just like that, it’s being noticed.
People have been
taking the pi- parodying the notion of influencers for a while now. Whether that’s with KFC clean eating campaign, with fictional Figgy Poppleton-Rice co-create a KFC clean cauliflower burger, or ‘Deliciously Stella’ (lol I laugh every time), developed by comedian Bella Younger who full-on satirised clean eating and wellbeing trends. (My personal fave was when she ‘oil pulled’ with Bounty spread during the coconut oil craze). Stella was such a hit in her prime that I’m pretty sure she even ended up doing some brand collaborations… I definitely saw #AD once or twice. Or, maybe that was ironic? There’s also ‘Blogger-off‘ who describes herself as the ANTI-INFLUENCER. Her posts are centred on existing #ad content, and recreating them in a comedic way, in order to show just how forced these posts can be.
And apparently, now it’s meme accounts that are the way forward… that’s according to the latest campaign for Hayu streaming service which used meme accounts to amplify the latest series of KUWTK.
With the rise of meme accounts posting more and more branded content (like the below example from ‘Bros Being Basic’), is it a matter of time before this avenue becomes too saturated, too? Plus, these accounts are not typically run by professionals. Maybe that makes it more genuine, or perhaps that means there’s less control for brands.
The real trick is to carefully scope out influencers for authentic collaborations, remembering that it’s their audience you’re communicating with. That’s what we do at R&T. By building up a close and genuine rapport with key influencers, we’re know what will work on different people’s platforms: we recognise if it’s true to their aesthetic and above all, relevant to their followers.
It’s important to keep that in mind and not fall into the trap of producing lovely pictures, but ones which no one really cares about. Remember: social media was created to be a two way street, not another push-advertising platform. Beautiful content is beautiful, but at the end of the day will their followers want to see it if it doesn’t feel natural? My guess is: probably not.