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What’s the deal with influencers? How Instagram influencers are changing the traditional ad narrative

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Advertising is evolving. The ongoing trend of user-generated content on social media websites means that brands should be reflecting on the best possible ways to reach their target audiences. That’s where influencer marketing comes in. 

Instagram sees nearly 800 million monthly users. The accessibility and visual nature of the app serves as a unique opportunity for brands to market their product to almost anyone. In fact, nearly 75 per cent of users will take action after seeing a sponsored post.

Influencers often have niche followings in various different markets. These individuals ultimately bridge the gap between a brand and consumers, and have the power to affect their audience’s purchasing decisions due to their knowledge, position or relationship with their audiences. 

Nicole Rodger of @lovenicolerae, a Hamilton-based beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger and McMaster graduate has worked with various companies to share their message through Instagram. To her, being an influencer means being in a position to have her voice heard. 

“Being an influencer is more than being ‘a person that gets free stuff’,” said Rodger. “In the marketing world, it is a real life person that can give opinions on an item that can possibly making someone else want to buy it or participate in something.

Rodger has worked with a wide range of companies, from Kiehls, Aerie and Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival. When it comes down to deciding who to work with, Rodger makes sure that the company is one that aligns with her own beliefs.

“I have really put a lot more into my decisions on partnering up with brands this year, said Rodger. “If it’s something that aligns with my lifestyle, then I will likely move forward with a campaign. If it is something that is out of my realm of comfort, I likely will pass up on the offer, hoping it goes to someone more fitting for the role.”

For most influencers, developing a personal brand starts initially as a hobby. In a report from influencer marketing platform, Mavrck, sharing a passion, creative expression, inspiring and connecting with others are the main topics that inspire influencers to create content. 

 Krystle Ng-A-Mann of @dineandfash, a Toronto-based food, fashion and travel blogger started blogging as an offshoot of what she enjoyed doing already. She was eventually able to turn this into a full time career. 

“I was a lawyer for nine years before I quit my job and started to do this full time,” said Ng-A-Mann.”This was really like my creative outlet but it started getting a lot more serious and I got more traction. When I first started, I didn’t necessarily know that whether I wanted to take it full time, but it grew a lot faster than I expected it to. So, it really got to a point where it became viable for me to be able to do this as a full time career.”

The trend of influencer marketing seems to keep growing. Over 50 per cent of influencers started producing content for brands within the past two years, while a third started this past year.  Further, 90 per cent of professionals consider influencer marketing to be effective when we speak about brand awareness, while 73 per cent say that influencers help to build customer loyalty.

“[Instagram marketing] is a really an area that grew in a short period of time over the last few years,” said Ng-A-Mann. “It’s really a privilege to be able to make money from it and to be able to sustain yourself and pay your mortgage and have fun it while setting your own schedule and really doing what you love.”

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Author: Emily O'Rourke

Emily is a recent Communication Studies grad. Now you can find her in the big seat as Editor-in-Chief. She mostly talks about PR, meme culture, coffee and dogs. Emily was also voted biggest klutz in her high school's graduating class, FYI.