A Launchmetrics study suggests Social Media Influencers' impact will mainly be felt in the future
Every generation has their new Go To jobs. Back when Yves, Pierre and Karl were starting out, many young ladies dreamt of being airline hostesses and seeing the world. Hard to believe when reading about United Airlines that was ever the case? Over the decades it's varied from foreign correspondent to gallery owner to TV presenter to museum curator. Today, judging from the deluge of information people put up about themselves on Facebook and Instagram, the Go To job of our era has to be being named a Social Media Influencer. Especially in fashion.
But just how influential are influencers? And how much attention do consumers pay to them when actually shopping? A new study by Launchmetrics suggests that while growing rapidly, influencers primary importance is probably far more in brand building rather than actual spending.
“There’s is a growing importance in fashion, luxury and beauty of influencers. Brands tell us they will invest 70% more next year – probably double – on social media influencers. They all claim it is cheaper even though they are not sure of the effect!” explains Michael Jais, CEO of Launchmetrics and a professor of Fashion Luxury Business at French university Sciences Po. Launchmetrics boasts 1,700 brands as clients, including some 90% of European and North America runway brands, luxury marques, watch brands and cosmetics label – who collectively have total annual marketing spending over €200 billion. Its study sampled 600 marketing, PR and communications professionals.
The study defines an Influencer – from the Latin influentia, meaning gaining power from the stars – as someone with at least 10,000 followers on Instagram; with Echo, meaning their ideas, stories and posts are propagated on social media, and with Expertise, in that they are recognized as connoisseurs.
“It’s still very hard to estimate how influencers affect the revenue side. But we see they can have a huge influence on propagating the right information on a brand to consumers. Surprisingly, the way that brands best use influencers is in real life events. It is not about just sharing imagery. It is inviting them to product exchanges and launches. Real life is still very important,” says Jais.
Launchmetrics is a B to B business joint venture between an American company GPS – known for connecting all guests to NYC fashion week to reach shows - and Augure, a French specialist on data, which monitors some 100 million people on social networks interacting with fashion.
“Our study is about understanding how influencers reconnect to your audience. Take a luxury brand with 200,000 customers; they don’t know their clients at all as they buy online. Our goal is to match and find out who is influential – and, in actual fact, a lot of them are sportsmen, actors and stars who are buying the brand’s product, unbeknownst to the brand!”
The study reveals that 82% of brands compensate influencers financially. Given the pecuniary award are they not just mercenaries?
“Yes, I say many are. And the actual figure is higher. Why is it so? Because media is collapsing and can no longer pay people. So maybe the future is brands becoming media. The challenge today is that things are not transparent. It’s hard to know who has a contract with a brand and who [does] not! Today, most influencer campaigns are driven not by the PR department but by the media division. Before PR people spoke to journalists and no money exchanged hands. Now the media department speaks to influencers’ agents and they ask what is your budget? But I don’t think the audience is stupid – they realize that whatever is said and written by an influencer is ultimately an ad!” Jais opines.
What’s most surprising is that many brands' followers on Instagram or Facebook are infinitely different from its actual consumers. Consider this: "If one overlaps the social media fan base and the customer base of most luxury brands, the overlap is 0.016 percent. Which means online fans buy practically nothing. The customers are generally people who are not on Facebook. Obviously brands believe that in the future these fans will be their customers – but today the ROI is tiny!” concludes the quietly-spoken Jais.
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