Aldo Agostinelli

A few days ago I was talking to some friends and colleagues about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemics would have on influencer marketing. Some claimed this latter has been in a sort of coma for a while, whereas others, me included, totally disagreed. Everybody being locked inside their houses with a lot more time to spend online, in my opinion, two elements were likely to appear: an increase in e-commerce and more power assigned to influencers – not all of them, only the good ones! – within their community.

With regard to the first point, data can be found everywhere (E-commerce is rocketing: sales have increased by 80%); when it comes to the second, it is enough to give a look at  social media, Instagram in primis. When a crisis strikes, like now, communities rally up either around brands or the influencers who may better represent such brands. People want to be reassured, entertained, taken back to some sort of normality. The best influencers – see Ferragni-Fedez – also know how to convey a sense of protection and proactivity (Coronavirus, Ferragni and Fedez: “A new intensive therapy has opened, thanks to all of you”).

However, we know it far too well: not all influencers are good and correct. Some cheat about figures, followers and data needed by brands to understand whether they are investing on the right testimonials (Operation clean social marketing: let’s kick fake influencers out).

Moreover, some deceive their followers by advertising products without declaring it openly through a hashtag, as per the Digital Chart, the Advertising Self-regulatory Institute code. Every time influencers, VIPs or a celebrities comment on a product with the purpose to advertise it, indeed, they need to ( or at least they should! ) comply with some rules.

Influencer Marketing transparency

An analysis conducted by Buzzoole referring to 2019 aims at clarifying the situation concerning Influencer Marketing.

In Italy posts containing the #Ad, #Adv, #sponsorizzato, #sponsored, #inserzioneapagamento, #prodottofornitoda, #pubblicità, #advertising hashtags published on Instagram have increased by 49% against 2018.

IG is still Influencer Marketing  preferred domain, with 69% of posts and 98% of interactions (25% Twitter, 6% Facebook- underestimated data).

The sectors which use the transparency # are: fashion with 30% of the published posts, the  beauty industry, 17,4% (losing three points), accessories 11% (-2,4 points), entertainment 9%, beverages 6,4% and food 5,9%  followed by the automotive sector 9% and tourism 2%.

Honesty pays back

By the way, transparency pays back: last year the Italian post generating the highest engagement was published by Fedez and Chiara Ferragni who, thanks to a gallery sponsored by Fendi, obtained 570 thousand likes. Fedez also created the second most engaging post, with an ironic picture of Samsung Galaxy S10 (540.000 likes).

The users’ role

All in all, despite the cheaters, according to the above mentioned survey, there is a higher awareness of how important transparency is in Influencer Marketing. Indeed, cheating backlashes by jeopardizing the relationship existing between the cheaters and  their community. It is known that social media are merciless. You may get by once but if you are caught red-handed more than one time, recovering is going to be hard.

However, while transparency increases, Buzzoole white paper points out that tracking dishonest Influencer Marketing volumes, especially on platforms such as YouTube, is hard.

The victims of such dishonesty, i.e. users/followers, have an ace up their sleeve, though: if they realize that an influencer is presenting a sponsorship as if it were just a regular post, they can  notify the Control Committee of the Advertising Self- Regulatory Institute which, after having made sure the notification is truthful, will promptly intervene. Dishonest influencers be warned.

What do you think about influencer marketing? Do you think it is a valid instrument for promoting products?  Tweet @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book entitled: “People Are Media” 

If you liked this post, you may also like “Influencers on Tik Tok: who they are and who their followers are

Aldo Agostinelli