In the golden age of advertising (think Mad Men, think 1950s) it was the brands telling the consumers how to think, what to do, and how to live.

Over the decades though, the general public has come to revolt against the idea that a faceless entity should be able to dictate to them – that a brand’s opinion should automatically be trusted just because the brand says so.

So, the question is, if we aren’t listening to what brands are saying about themselves, then who are we listening to?

 

Consumers want a real life opinion from a real life person

Wondering why the golden age of advertising ended? There are two main reasons:

1. Consumers got burned by false promises
2. The internet and then social media allowed consumers to have their own voice – a voice that often directly contradicted a brand’s message with real life anecdotes

Not only is it easier to hold a real, contactable, person accountable for what they claim, but their opinions are more believable, since they risk their reputation by claiming something. You may say that bloggers and the like who accept money to promote a brand lose their credibility to rather become an extension of the brand’s voice, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Influencers
Consumers will take their peer’s word over that of a brand.

Authenticity breeds credibility

As with everything, influencer marketing had its teething problems, with bloggers and similar influential people losing credibility within their circles after being found out for having been paid for their “real” opinion on a brand or product. But most have corrected this practice so that they can still get paid for their endorsement, but are upfront with their community about the sponsorship.

Most influencers also claim that they still won’t endorse a brand they don’t believe in – this goes a long way to bringing back authenticity, while the blogger is still able to make a living. What this also shows though, is how far reaching the mistrust of a brand’s voice can be. It’s not enough to simply change the face in front of the microphone, but to fully embrace influencer marketing, brands must relinquish control and simply let the influencer express their real life experience with the brand.

 

Marketing has to become more naturally integrated

Along with Millennials craving authenticity, they also don’t want in-your-face advertising. They are sceptical of people telling them how to feel about something, and rather want to see it in action and feel like they came to their own conclusion.

Once again, this is why it’s so important to let an influencer embrace the brand how they want, to increase their authenticity, and not just become a puppet of the brand. It’s scary for a brand to give up control of their carefully crafted image, but the whole point of embracing real people’s opinions to become more real – and thus more seamlessly integrated into your target audiences lives.

 

Influencers are accepted where Brands don’t make it through the door

Another good point? People have influence over a certain crowd because they are intrinsically part of that crowd. A brand alone will always be an outsider. Embracing an influencer means that your brand can more easily be embraced by the very audience you are after.

This also changes the whole ball game, because the whole viewpoint changes – your brand is no longer constantly pushing and convincing, but rather your target audience can take your brand on as an important part of their lifestyle and effectively do your marketing for you. There are upsides to relinquishing a little control and embracing the collaboration.

 

Brands still have to find the right voice

This will make or break your foray into influencer marketing. Before approaching someone with a million Instagram followers, first do your research. There’s no point in reaching a million people who aren’t your target market.

With influencer marketing, it’s all about quality over quantity. Your brand has the opportunity to reach your target audience in a way that advertising alone could never do – it’s pointless to waste that on going for numbers and reach, over honest to goodness influence, even if it’s over a smaller (but right) audience.