Social Media Advertising…or Influencing?

Brands are utilizing social media more and more for advertising, and not just in the conventional sense that we as viewers may look past. They are teaming up with social media influencers that we as consumers have grown to trust and adore in order to advertise merchandise in a way that feels natural, youthful, and engaging.

Companies are shifting their advertising strategies from traditional and print advertising to social media as it is more cost efficient, easier to monitor, less static, and more malleable. With the rise of social media and those who make their living off of social media followings, brands are learning to utilize these “influencers” to market their products to specific audiences while building brand loyalty and brand personality.

Alexis Ren and Jay Alvarrez are both Instagram famous models who recently partnered with Hyundai to produce an advertisement for the 2017 Tucson that revitalized the company’s brand image. The advertisements were youthful, dare-devilish, and “Full of life,” fitting their mantra, no doubt assisted by the bright young faces of Alexis and Jay. See one of the advertisements here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8ykXSbQRLw

It’s not only car companies that are taking advantage of social media stardom; “beauty gurus” are a class of YouTube and Instagram influencers that post makeup tutorials and reviews, and occasionally partner with large beauty brands for sponsorships and paid advertising campaigns. Putting a public face on these brands allows for them to seem personable, and it is more believable that these influencers actually use and enjoy the products they endorse, rather than celebrities.

Product placements are not the only way that brands and influencers work together to promote new items. Brands are also using allotted PR budgets to take influencers on extravagant vacations and spoiling them with free product in return for social media broadcasting and publicity. These influencers, like beauty gurus Desi Perkins and Katy “Lustrelux” DeGroot vlog and post about their trips and the new merchandise which connects the future consumers to the brand as well as the content creators themselves. This assures that the advertisement— if we can even call it that— is being sent to precisely the people who would potentially purchase the goods, rather than just sending the message out to space and hoping it reaches a desired audience. Check out a vlog from a recent PR vacation here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUNTM67whxE

My prediction is that we will be seeing an influx of research into the effectiveness of influencer advertising in the next decade, as there is little out there academically that can explain this phenomenon. As many students and social media whizzes are trying to become “influencers,” it will be exciting to see how the industry keeps up with the demands of consumers of media to see creative and intriguing content.

-Shaleigh

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