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How the Rise of Influencer Marketing Has Affected the PR and Advertising Industry

By: Ava Glassen, Erin Wyatt, Alex Awad, Alex Castleberry, Coley Warren, Phoebe Finch, Savannah Harris, and Stephanie Jones

Many consumers have grown resentful of traditional marketing, such as ads interrupting YouTube videos or breaking up their favorite show. It is no secret that our generation has completely turned digital. Podcasts are a part of our daily routine, TikTok fills our free time, and Instagram has turned into a video sharing and shopping platform. Whenever it is an option, consumers opt out of being exposed to an advertisement. Whether traditional media outlets want to accept this or not, consumers do not want to see advertising and this has posed a challenge to many brands. They have since altered the way that they promote their products. Thanks to social media, consumers are now able to choose what they listen to and who they trust. This is the main reason why influencer marketing has been able to dominate the advertising and PR field.

Over the past couple of years, a popular career path is becoming a social media influencer. Influencer marketing is defined as content-driven marketing campaigns that usually consist of collaborations between brands and influencers. Social media apps such as Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat have allowed people to create content, gain a large following, and be paid to promote products. The popularity and amount of people they will reach are determined by how many followers they have. Brands have noticed that the opinions of these influencers hold a lot of weight on their audience. Public relations and influencer marketing often go hand in hand because they can be implemented in a PR campaign. There is a lot of power with influencer marketing and it has recently become the most effective way to increase brand awareness.

Something that has been instrumental to the increase of influencer marketing within the past couple of years is an audience’s loyalty to the influencer. For example, we choose who we want to follow and support online. Whether we feel as if we have similarities to the influencer or we admire them in some way, users on social media sites make an active choice to customize who they follow based on their own personal interests. Brands have noticed that if our favorite online influencers are promoting a product, the user will most likely pay attention to the endorsement and maybe even want to buy it because someone they admire said to. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. Savvy, up-to-date companies understand that if they find an influencer who has a target audience similar to that of the brand, they will be able to promote their product to an audience who trusts the opinion of the person they are listening to. However, not every viewer will buy the product based on the opinion of the influencer they follow.

There has been a huge push for authenticity in the advertising world. If the consumer notices that the influencer is passionate about the brand and is genuinely excited about the partnership, it will add a level of credibility to the great value of the product. Another important aspect of influencer marketing is the brands being able to give the influencer freedom to implement the endorsement into the style of their own content. Consumers will be persuaded more if they feel the advertisement is sincere and aligned with the content they are used to the influencer posting. If influencer content is perceived as authentic, it will result in higher conversion and engagement rates.

Influencer marketing will continue to shape the PR and advertising industry as it is a great way for brands to build brand awareness, target specific audiences, and maintain a good reputation among consumers. The opposite can be true as well. If an influencer has a negative opinion about a product, it could cause sales to rapidly decrease and leave a bad impression in the consumer's mind. It is fascinating to see how the digital world is always evolving and how brands that do not keep up with these changing times will suffer the consequences. Influencer marketing is evidence that advertising will never go away and big businesses will always find creative ways to make sure consumers are exposed to their product.

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