The influence of ‘influencers’ on social media

In today’s day and age, if a company wants the public to buy their product, a social media influencer is the way to go. Instead of televised commercials or ads in magazines, many companies opt to spend their marketing budget on influencers. According to “Traackr”, a management platform for said influencers, 72 percent of well-known brands spends the better half of their marketing budget on influencers. These influencers consist of famous(-ish) people with a major online following.

Through striking deals with major brands, these influencers convince their followers to buy the brand’s products, receiving a payment for their services. In turn, the brands reach far more potential customers than they did in the days before cell phones and social media. The bigger the influencer, the bigger their payment ‘per post’, considering the brand they advertise for could count on an influx of customers. For instance, Kylie Jenner – daughter of Kris and Bruce Jenner, half-sister of Kim Kardashian – receives around 1.2 million USD per sponsored Instagram post, according to the BBC. The companies that request these sponsored posts, know that their products are being shown to her 221 million followers on Instagram. But how effective are these posts really? According to a study conducted by Nielsen, 86% of viewers recall a brand name after having seen a so-called ‘sponsored post’ by a well-known influencer. Whether the full 86% of viewers actually buy the products shown in the Instagram post, is not taken into account in the particular analysis, however. Regardless, it seems like a good investment of the marketing budget, nonetheless.

However, there are other forms of branding through social media platforms with the help of influencers. One example is the use of influencers for organized parties in nightclubs. This form of online branding is especially popular in the Netherlands. The use of the influencer, the form of ‘payment’ and the preferred outcome are different from the way major clothing brands operate, however. Noticeably, as the popularity of sponsored posts has grown over the past couple of years, it is not just the major brands that use Instagram and its ‘celebrities’ as their marketing strategy. In the nightclubs use their regular customers as a greeting card. Almost every nightclub in the Netherlands has an organized schedule. Certain parties are scheduled on different nights of the week, with their own fitting theme and musical genre. At every party, a photographer is hired to capture pictures of the people that attend the party. These photos are posted online to various social media platforms to give an impression of said party: with the intent of getting more customers to come out and dance the following week. The regular customers become the face of the party, and do not necessarily need a big following like with the marketing strategy of sponsored posts by influencers working with major clothing brands. The regular customers that enjoy the parties every week post their pictures to their Instagram profile. This, in turn, prompts their following to attend the same party the upcoming week, because the customer’s following generally has the same interests (otherwise they would not follow one another). Instead of nightclubs paying their ‘influencers’ for their posts, free drinks or entrance are promised. According to Rotterdam DJ and founder of “Panchi” (one of Rotterdam’s regular parties at a major nightclub) “Lennesy” Lennert Kok; ‘the interaction between the organization and the customers is dynamic, on Instagram we run a page that comments and likes pictures posted by our customers every day, as well as posting content online ourselves’.

Does this interaction actually work? DJ Lennesy is positive that this type of communication brings “Panchi” closer to the partygoers, as well as them to it: ‘“Panchi” is not just a party anymore, it is a concept. Our fans come to the party thinking as if it is theirs: they already know the line-up, the photographer and the M.C. because they had been featured on our Instagram page. The same Instagram page that liked and commented on everyone’s posted picture, but they [the fans] don’t know who runs the page: so in their mind, the entire organization of “Panchi” has seen it, as if we’re your best friend! There are so many random people that come up to me or Doris [“Doris Bae”, resident DJ for “Panchi”] and act as if we know who they are because they stood in front of the DJ booth the week before last… Or that I saw their posted picture on Insta. It’s fun though, it’s good to see that people enjoy the whole vibe of “Panchi” and return every week, which I never imagined would happen when we started the concept a couple of years ago’. Lennert does admit, however, that it is not just their influencers’ presence on social media that helps them gain attraction and costumers: ‘Every party in the Netherlands uses Insta and pictures posted by their set of influencers, but some flop. The dynamic interaction between party and attendees, in addition to the vibe, musical genre but most of all whether the party adheres to its customer’s wishes is what makes it a success. “Panchi” would not have worked in Amsterdam or Utrecht, it is very much at home in Rotterdam’. “Panchi” is a mixture of hip-hop music and has a tropical, vacation-like vibe, for any readers that are interested in going.

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that influencers on social media really do help sell the product; no matter what someone tries to sell. The approach to the use of an influencer might vary, depending on the type of product, the brand, etcetera; but the outcome is more or less the same: they bring in more customers and money in the bank.

References used:

interview with “DJ Lennesy” (Lennert Kok, Rotterdam) conducted on Sunday 19 September 2021.