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The Influence Of Influencers

Brands need to re-think their reliance and use of influencers - are they overdoing it?

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Influencer Marissa Fuchs’ surprise engagement has upset a number of people. No, it isn’t because she’s taken, it is because her surprise engagement on Instagram was not really a surprise- especially for brands. Her engagement was pitched as a marketing exercise with an elaborate marketing deck circulated to brand heads months in advance. 

As reported by The Atlantic, Fuchs’ partner Gabriel Grossman had organized a trip for her from New York City to Montauk to Miami to Paris as a part of the surprise engagement. The marketing deck, which was circulated had a detailed itinerary of the trip. Brand marketers who were sent the deck to pitch for sponsorship opportunities along the trip knew exactly how each hour on the 48-hour trip would unfold. 

Gabriel Grossman of course insisted that Fuchs did not know about the marketing pitch, and that they did not receive any direct payments from brands. 

This elaborate marketing stunt – and that is how it seems has annoyed people as it calls into question the authenticity of influencers. When your influencer says it’s a surprise – is it really one? And by that same logic, is the brand they are endorsing really worth it?

Marketers are divided on the use of such a stunt – some feel that personal moments shouldn’t be leveraged for marketing whereas, others feel it is a personal choice. The bigger question however, is authenticity. To me as a consumer, it doesn’t matter if an influencer is pitching moments of his/ her engagement to brands. To me it matters if the influencer says it is all a surprise for them, when in fact, it is not. Wasn’t authenticity one of the tenets of influencer marketing? Or at least we were made to believe that. Yes? 

Yesterday, at the exchange4media TechManch conference, conversation veered towards influencers. Reilly Rebello, Head Marketing- Music & Live, Zee5, stated that influencers when picked properly and brand endorsement done organically by them works the best. Jahid Ahmed Head, Digital Marketing, HDFC said that for the banking industry influencers have to be advocates, they require earned media stories as opposed to paid influencers.

At the conference, I caught up with Tamara McCleary the CEO of Thulium and we spoke about influencers. According to her, because of our reliance on social media and our need for 24-hour connectedness we are creating a society of narcissists, where we stop thinking about others and everything is only about us. It seems that we care more about our following and not about our followers, which leads us to do anything to get attention. 

Brands need to re-think their reliance and use of influencers - are they overdoing it?  

It is definitely time for Influencers and brands to reevaluate the core principles of their association if they want to continue to create an impact.

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