Navigating Legal and Ethical Considerations in Influencer Marketing

By Johann van Zyl
Influencer marketing has become one of the most frequently discussed topics in boardrooms today.
These discussions vary from the evolution of influencer categories; how nano influencers can be best described, to additional categories being developed as new niches evolve, to how the various social channels are changing and offering influencers new and innovative options to use in brand campaigns. Discussions can get quite granular about the diverse tactics and the use of different social platforms, combined with campaign elements that are at play, to achieve optimal results for clients.
These discussions and debates, although valuable, have to some degree distracted the attention from the real shift in influencer marketing about where it has transitioned from a highly effective tactic to generate talkability, positive sentiment and general word of mouth, to a highly impactful media channel with real returns in terms of measurability
Influencers have consistently been improving their ability to deliver high-quality content. With content fatigue in social media channels being a real threat to the success of any branded piece of content, their relatability and relevance have made them more valuable than ever. The relevance and relatability of content have further moved nano and micro influencers into the limelight as they offer brands the ability for much tighter profiling due to data points available (if platform tools are in place) as well as the relative cost per piece of content.
When making media decisions you need to consider multiple options and the rationale as to why certain media formats or channels might be best suited to effectively reach the target audience. With the ever-changing media landscape, this has become more and more challenging and assuming you have the necessary creative assets, you need the best distribution channels. Influencer marketing covers both.
How can influencer marketing challenge traditional channels or even the more established digital channels? “No, this most certainly can’t be seen as a real option from a media perspective!”, is the sentiment of a lot of marketers.
Influencer marketing has and is making huge inroads in proving its efficacy within the competitor landscape. Firstly, daily time spent on social media platforms is higher than on any other platforms, including streaming. This means you have a captive audience choosing to spend time on their favourite social media channels. Influencer marketing, as a distribution channel, has become incredibly effective at delivering targeted content, but more importantly, it has been able to prove its worth by driving huge improvement on most benchmarks down the conversion funnel.
The below example showcases the shift in traditional organic forms of influencer marketing to a channel that combines User Generated Content (UGC) with Performance Media.
It is crystal clear that the needle has shifted! The combination of UGC + Performance Media has created a model where brands/businesses/services can generate a variety of content (catering to numerous variables including cultural diversity, life stages and geographical targeting) and distribute it to a very specific targeted audience to gain the best impact versus the old model which was purely focused on organic distribution. This old model offered a fewer number of content pieces which meant you had all your eggs in one basket to connect with consumers. Furthermore, it left you at the mercy of the algorithm hoping that a sliver of the influencer’s audience reached by the content closely matches your consumer archetype.
This evolution of the influencer channel has made it a real contender when clients and agencies alike are doing their media planning. The above example highlights how influencer marketing has become a real option as an effective media channel. The cherry on top is that the original benefits of influencer marketing, amazing talkability, positive sentiment and word of mouth are still benefits that further enhance its value.
This, in my personal opinion, has been the shift in influencer marketing, going from an impact channel to precisely targeted impact at scale.
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Johann van Zyl
Johann is currently a Director at Nfinity Influencer Division, and channels include theSalt, Webfluential, EchoCast, theIntern-ship and Nfluential. Johann spent 15 years in Brand Marketing as Head of Marketing: Prestige Brands as well as Head of Trade Marketing at Pernod Ricard South Africa.