According to the INCA India Influencer Report, the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow by 25 per cent annually to become a Rs 2,200 crore industry by 2025. Several reports on influencer marketing show that an increasing number of brands and business organisations are investing heavily in it. The advancement of social media and high internet penetration has further enabled various influencers to generate influence power way higher than a lot of famous celebrities within the same niche.
Are they slowly turning into powerful brands?
According to Sushmita Sinha, Senior Manager- Client Servicing, TheSmallBigIdea, influencers carved their niche and have become ambassadors of the content category. If I say high-end brands or any other category, the respective influencers’ names will pop up in the audience’s mind in no time. This is the power of social media.
“Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that influencers have become brands, famous celebrities have become a part of hit projects and are waiting for the next big thing, which nobody knew when would happen. There was a gap between celebrities and the audience, but social media has bridged that by opening doors for everyone to celebrityhood. People are now a part of the influencers’ journey to the top. Influencers show up every single day through posts or stories and stay connected to their niche. Even though famous celebrities are influencers too, they have to keep a balance between showing too much or too little,” she adds.
“This is due to the relatability aspect that an influencer holds. These influencers have followers who have seen them grow and have built an unbreakable bond, which eventually makes an influencer powerful. The connection is so powerful that we often see followers fighting for their influencers in the comment section. These, with some more elements, make a creator a powerful brand and, hence, other brands want to collaborate and therefore leverage on it,” observes Akshae Golekar, Co-Founder, Optiminastic Media.
While the influencer wave began with “light weights” like entertainment and lifestyle segments, their impact steadily made a move towards some comparatively sensitive, niche, and complex categories such as BFSI, health, and women’s issues.
“While there are two sides to every coin, I believe that influencers are able to convey the intended message in a very simple, relatable manner, and brands should collaborate with nano, micro, and macro influencers in order to engage with their target audiences,” says Misbah Quadri, Founder & CEO, Monofys.
“Influencers are also able to make intelligent use of humour, music, and everyday subjects to weave in a topic which would otherwise be quite mundane and uninteresting for the general population. I myself run a social media page wherein I routinely speak with other young men and women who are looking for a way ahead in the communications industry,” she adds.
Should brands smartly utilise brand influencers over celebrities for their campaigns to get the best results?
“Yes, brands and other business organisations should use influencers over celebrities as they have a very loyal fan base, which is very beneficial. Collaboration with the right influencer can do wonders for the brand. The audience trusts influencers and takes their word for it,” says Sushmita Sinha.
According to Akshae Golekar, many brands have realised this really well and have signed influencers exclusively for their niche through agencies like theirs.
“Moreover, the power of micro influencers cannot be missed here. There is a simple math-the fewer the followers, the higher the engagement and the lesser the reach, and the higher the followers, the more the engagement and the higher the reach. Agencies like ours help over time with at least a basic umbrella model, which helps set up a mega influencer campaign by following up with highly engaging nano to micro influencers, which gives an impressive result thereafter,” he adds.
Should influencers be aware of the role they play in consumer outreach?
“Yes, influencers need to be cautious with the brands they associate themselves with. It’s important for them to be honest about what they promote, as the audience is very smart. As easy as it has become to climb higher, it can also cause you to fall harder with one mistake,” says Sinha.
“I also do think that influencers must take responsibility for the role they play in reaching out towards thousands and at times lakhs of unassuming youngsters at one click. It is, hence, imperative that they remain grounded, unbiased, and objective in their analysis of brands and industries. Endorsements should ideally be done with brands and values that one believes in, practices, and is able to share constructive information about. As they say, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility!’,” concludes Misbah.
Brands planning to implement influencer marketing as part of their marketing and ad strategies should fully take note of the emerging trends in the sector to strategize their campaigns. As a mix of content marketing and native advertising, influencer marketing can have a larger impact among the consumers. Influencers are here to stay, though as the supply increases, pricing will eventually go down. We may see a functioning marketplace soon, though currently many are trying to build one..