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The Downsides of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a relatively new trend in digital marketing and advertising; but not a new marketing communication strategy when it comes to outdoor marketing and advertising in Ghana. Influencer marketing is one of the effective marketing communication tools by which companies and even political parties use celebrities and respected public figures to advertise and promote their brands or political parties.  In Ghana, the use of influencer marketing via outdoor publicity as old as three decades or even more. But with the advent of digital technology and social media, this trend of adverting has become huge across the world, and it is speedily growing in Ghana too.

Statistics show that the amount of funds pumped into influencer marketing has more than doubled since 2019, and stood at an estimated amount of 21.1 billion US dollars in 2023. According to statistics on influencer marketing conducted by HubSpot, 25% of marketers and advertisers work with influencers to promote their goods, services and brands. The study found that 69% of consumers stated that they trust a brand or product when an influencer recommends it. This trend is making influencer marketing morph into one of the most effective and powerful marketing communication channels to watch, going into the near future.

Influencer advertising has surely become an effective channel to give product brands and services a strong exposure to both existing and potential consumers or customers. Partnering with the different levels of influencers – be it nano influencers (those with 1k to 10k followers), micro influencers (with 10k to 100k followers), macro influencers (with 100k to 1 million followers) or mega influencers (with 1 million+ followers), has been proved, by statistics, to be increasingly efficient, especially on digital platforms. The following are some of the reasons why influencers have become effective marketing channels themselves:

  • They Create Good Content and Visual Appeals

Influencers come from diverse backgrounds: movies, music, socialites, media personalities, politicians, etc. Since they have come to understand the power of the number of followers they have, they engage professional photographers, cinematographers and publicists to enrich the images and comments they post online. The powerful images and controversial issues they post on make them attract their followers. Advertisers and marketing Communication experts hire them to make posts about their brands, products or services or produce attractive images in relation to the brand they are hired to promote.

  • They Give Advertisers Access to their Followers

Hiring an influencer is equal to gaining unrestricted access to their followers, audience and viewers. This also means that the attributes of the product, service or brand being promoted must align with the kind of influencer the advertiser engages. The endorsements, posts, and messaging are directly targeted at the influencer’s followers online. But that influence even transcends their online followers to the general public if the advertiser uses other channels such as outdoor, radio, TV or print media.

These benefits of influencer marketing, not withstanding, there are potentially damning consequences that advertising practitioners should be aware of. 

  • Effects of Damning Scandals Involving the Influencer

Influencers are real-life or digital media socialites who have private lives and human weaknesses. They surely will give your brand access to the target audience or eye balls you desire for your brand; but their personal lives, values and beliefs cannot easily be controlled by the organizations that hire them or their services. If your target audience love the influencer; but are not aware of their personal weaknesses, the danger is that when a scandal breaks out about them those same people they influence could turn against them and anything they are associated with, including the brands, product or services they have endorsed. There are times when the personal and private values of the influencer can spark up problems for the brand they represent. A recent example is the case of Bud light, a top beer brand in the United States. The sales of the product and its mother company plummeted badly when American conservatives boycotted the product beginning from April 2023. The boycott was in response to an advertising campaign in which the company used an actress and TikTok personality, Dylan Mulvaney, who is also a publicly-known transgender activist.

  • Influencer Posts that Conflict with the Brand and Product Values

Every brand or product has some intended values that are attached to it. Those values are the bright sides of the product that attract customers within the intended category. If the influencer makes a post or says things that conflict with the values of the brand and those it appeals to, there will certainly be a problem.  For instance, if an influencer of a product that attracts the Gen Zs posts or says things that attack the values and belief system of the Gen Zs, then you are sure to see a massive boycott from that target group.

  • Managing The Ego of an Influencer

Most influencers have big egos, just like most super stars. They are aware of their influence and the impact they wield on their followers and the general public. That kind of ego is difficult to manage. Such influencers will not want to be dictated to by brand owners, advertising practitioners or marketing managers. They may have signed a contract with the advertising organization, but they frown on their personal lives being micro-managed, especially when they know the kind of value they bring to the brand that hires them.

Concluding Thoughts

I will recommend influencer marketing any day, especially in today’s digital and social media environment that has become a busy marketplace that touches every aspect of life. Even for traditional media like TV, radio, print and outdoor, influencer advertising is a huge thing. Perhaps advertising agencies and the organizations that own the brands or products will have to weigh the commercial value and impact of using a particular influencer they choose so they can opt for providing special publicists, personal brand managers or PR experts to manage them. This is so because there is a critical mass of consumers and clients that are swayed positively, more personally, and more effectively through influencer marketing communication than any other means.

Isaac Cudjoe
Executive Director, AAG

Originally published on

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