The Marketing landscape has been dynamically shaped as we revolutionize the manner we go through our day with technology. We face ads. As marketing professionals, we constantly address concerns over which is better - Influencer Marketing or Paid Ads.
First of all, we clarify the intention of both. They function to connect Brands to potential opportunities. They are promotional materials that enable Brands to achieve a direct impact on sales and awareness to build loyalty and advocacy.
The main differentiating element is that Influencer Marketing goes through a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) while, Paid Ads are by the Brand itself. However, there are sub-categories that break down the intrincity of each strategy.
At ground-level, we are concerned with the impact each can amount to. Influencer Marketing opens up a direct communication channel between a Brand and its group of audience. Done through affirmations by Key Opinion Leaders, they are your word-of-mouth advocacy even though it is paid. The idea is that if an authoritative figure promotes the Brand, there is credibility there. Essentially, Influencers risk their reputation if they are placing their branding on something they do not believe in.
Paid advertising is understood as a form of information dissemination that has framed with a negative impression. Understandably, it lacks the authenticity and relatability that Influencer Marketing has. For Paid Ads, it requires a significant amount of effort to really cut through various competitors' ads and impress people who have never interacted with your offerings. It is less curated, but, it generates general awareness which is beneficial if you have a diverse offering or are experimenting.
aka. Promotional content. In Paid Ads, these are realised by a Team that is dedicated to supplying a surplus of content to assist with their outreach. These can be draining to conceptualize and there is pressure to produce creative content that produces results.
Influencer Marketing is borrowed help of an authoritative individual that understands their climate for authentic content. They in return, increase engagement value and convert warm leads to actual performance indicators.
These may be repurposed by the Brand to suit their angles on different platforms. Influencers alleviate the creative process stress for Brands to focus on the Big Picture. For eg. If you are a health and wellness Brand, you can onboard yoga practitioners, gym leaders, nutritionists etc. to assist in your brand advocacy. This manner of approach enables your Team to focus on strategizing entering new markets.
However, it is challenging to evaluate the effectiveness of the content back end. At face value, we see engagement rate through likes and comments. These can be faked with imposter accounts or friends and families. Other than the influencer, no one can actually tell how many genuine interactions came as a result of the post-performance.
Influencer Marketing is an act of creating social proof. Engaging an Instagram influencer as a Brand’s extension means that you are trusting that the person is aligned enough to communicate their stamp of approval. They essentially become the spokesperson of the Brand, an association that could potentially be memorable. Which is why their personal brand image matters.
On the flip side, they are able to generate genuine connections that your Brand will take 2x the effort to archive with Paid Ads. The manner in which Influencers typically function - on ad-hoc basis, assists to create flexible budgets and allocations for peak performance periods.
There is never a one-size-fits-all Marketing Strategy (and there should not be too!). Some prefer the old school, while others favour a dynamic framework. Brands today are recognizing that our diverse world requires a hybrid and adaptable blueprint. Flexibility is often highly desired because it enables a Marketer to respond in accordance with the climate for a campaign’s full potential. It is a constant balancing act that keeps the advertising realm exciting, refreshing and creative. An external pair of eyes auditing objectively may bring surprising insights and tactics that will strengthen your Brand!