When it comes to social media advertising, influencer marketing isn’t a new concept—especially for the Millennial and Generation Z consumer. Influencer posts created by celebrities, athletes and dedicated enthusiasts are easy to spot on Instagram feeds and the buzz they’ve created in the media can’t be ignored.  Wondering about the power of influencer marketing? Let’s look at the Fyre Festival fiasco.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, in December of 2016, 63 influencers posted vague graphics to their Instagram pages with the hashtag, #FyreFest. In the first 24 hours, these combined posts garnered over 300 million impressions. Wired magazine and The New York Times both condemned influencer marketing as the impetus that persuaded thousands of people to buy tickets and show up to an island for a debauched music festival so poorly executed that organizers were charged with fraudulent behavior.

As influencers rose from ashes of Fyre Fest, one truth remained: influencer marketing is a powerful tool for every industry and it’s just getting started.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing can be defined as the practice of partnering with personalities and individuals whose content and voice have built an influence with a group of potential consumers, providing a source of entertainment, information and inspiration.

The benefits of influencer marketing are expanding. When combined with an integrated marketing approach influencers drive organic brand engagement, possess exceptional credibility with consumers and create large repositories for branded content.

Driving Organic Brand Engagement with Social Media Influencers

It’s become increasingly important to find creative ways to get in front of consumers with the shift to all things digital. It’s even more critical to impact Millennials, the largest consumer demographic with a projected $1.4 trillion in buying power by 2020.

The Econsultancy Influencer Marketing 2020 report found that 61% of consumers between the ages of 18-34 have been swayed in their purchase decision-making by digital influencers. The reason is simple: when these consumers engage with their favorite influencers on Instagram, they expect, and almost always receive a response.

This flow of communication builds trust and authenticity. When that influencer posts content endorsing a product or service, it’s more likely to capture their followers’ attention and encourage engagement. The consumer feels an emotional bond with the influencer, and by relation, the brand.

Gaining Credibility and Trust

The consumer/influencer relationship is established because there is an inherent element of trust. Influencers appear more human, and their lifestyles appear attainable, interesting and relevant. Their willingness to engage their followers by responding to comments, posting Q&As, and asking for feedback ultimately makes them more trustworthy in the eyes of the consumer.

In a study conducted by the McCarthy Group, 84% of Millennials stated that they did not like or trust traditional advertising. Instead, they rely on social media and their favorite lifestyle influencers to inform their purchase decisions. Why? They’ve deemed these outlets more credible and authentic.

Consumers often think of influencers as an extension of their friend group, so when they see an influencer posting about a product or service, they believe it’s genuinely a brand they use and recommend.

Creating Large-Scale Repository of Branded Content

In addition to driving brand awareness and consideration (and in many cases sales), influencers generate a large volume of high-quality, engaging content. They’re also more likely to provide brands with a wide variety of assets at an efficient cost.

Traditional production shoots to build a versatile content repository are expensive. A shoot designed to capture quality images of products, lifestyle photos with talent and promotional content would require a large team and several days.

Alternatively, influencers who meet a brand’s requirements are much more economical and oftentimes successful. With a smaller budget, brands can provide influencers with a creative brief and negotiate usage rights to the assets they create. There’s always a time and place for production shoots, but when they’re not feasible influencer campaigns can augment traditional marketing efforts with a rather high return on investment.

Influencers also have another advantage: they can leverage their expertise of social media to deliver unique content they know will perform well across platforms. According to a study by Linqia, 51% of brands say influencer content outperforms brand-created assets.

While influencer marketing suffers from challenges such as follower fraud and measurement debates, most will agree that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. With growing pains in mind, the influencer industry continues to experience exponential expansion and a strong resonance with consumers. Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere, and it’s becoming a tactic that your brand can’t ignore.