Social Media Influencers – the magic key to solve brand woes?

Written by

The Hook Team

Published on

August 31, 2018



Time to read: 4 minutes
Social Media Influencers

It’s 2018 and the media landscape is unrecognisable compared to what it once was. SVOD services have replaced Blockbuster, Instagram has replaced photo booths and now social media influencers are taking over the celebrity sphere.

For those of you that haven’t been paying attention, social media influencers are people (or sometimes pets) with strong fan-bases on popular social media applications like YouTube and Instagram. There are two types of influencer – micro and macro. Micro influencers usually have a small yet loyal base of followers whereas their macro counterparts are famous social media giants with huge followings.

Much has been written about the way these figures can build stronger connections with consumers and, ultimately, shift products – with some marketers reporting up to 11x returns on their investments in this space. That’s pretty huge.

But with these positive write-ups come some pushback against influencers as well – questions about the actual value they bring to marketing strategies. So are these brand-influencer collabs really as good as some marketers claim? Or is it just old snake-oil in new bottles?

Beyond Online – Influencers Enter the Mainstream

Let’s begin this conversation with a look at one recent event involving social media influencers that has really struck a chord with the UK public: the recent, much-heralded boxing match between Logan Paul and KSI.

Paul initially found fame on Vine, the gone-but-never-forgotten 6-second video app, and KSI is a British YouTube personality. Their fight took place in Manchester Arena following months of online feuding between the pair. Over 15,000 fans attended the match and a further 2 million tuned into the live stream online, 40% of whom paid £7.50 while the rest watched pirated Twitch streams. The punch-up was accompanied by viral Fortnite dances and theatrical chants from the crowd and eventually ended in a draw with the two YouTubers agreeing on a rematch in early 2019.

Social Media InfluencersThis hyped-up brawl was no great feat of sporting prowess, but it does tell us a lot about social media influencers and what engages young audiences in the digital world.

The fight night generated an estimated $11 million, proving the cross-platform and ‘offline’ potential of these online superstars. It seems that they are now coming into the real-life world of celebrity.

And boxing is just the latest ‘offline’ venture for social media influencers in 2018. For instance, Joe Sugg, Zoella’s younger brother and a popular YouTuber in his own right, was recently announced as a member of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing line-up. On top of that, massive influencer conferences from VidCon to BeautyCon have sprung up across the world in the past few years. These conferences showcase the diverse content creators produce on YouTube and other social media, and have attracted high-profile celebrities including Drew Barrymore and Hillary Clinton.

It’s clear that the cult of the YouTuber is now entering the mainstream. But how and why have these influencers become so incredibly popular?

Gen Z Rock Stars: YouTubers as Kids’ Idols

Today, YouTube is one of kids’ main sources of entertainment. With the opportunity to watch their favourite gaming vloggers, laugh at prank videos and discover the latest viral dance challenge, kids can easily access a huge variety of content in one place using the platform.

YouTube’s relationship with kids hasn’t been all plain-sailing though.

As the digital world becomes integrated into kids’ everyday lives, parents are increasingly concerned about the online safety of their children. And in recent years numerous stories about inappropriate, extreme content appearing on YouTube have damaged the site’s reputation with parents.

With YouTube controversies left right and centre, a number of big brands removed their ads and abandoned the site last year, bringing the platform’s reliability into question. Similar difficulties have arisen with the influencers themselves, with entertainer-cum-amateur boxer Logan Paul causing uproar by posting racist and offensive content on his YouTube channel earlier this year.

When dealing with these live-wire individuals, brands have got to ask themselves: is the investment worth the risk?

Social Media InfluencersIs it really worth it? Brands wrangle with influencer marketing

Marketers certainly think it is – 39% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2018 and sponsored ads are on the rise across social media platforms. Unlike other forms of marketing there is a feeling that influencers can build real connections with audiences in a way that other forms of marketing cannot (to be precise, 89% of marketers feel like the authenticity influencers bring to campaigns is a powerful reason to use them).

As with many things digital, the true value of social media influencers is dependent on a number of factors unique to each brand: are the influencers engaging the right audiences? Do consumers think they are a right fit for your brand? Are you willing to tolerate some risk to your image in return for (the perception of) authentic endorsement? Marketers need to have answers to these crucial questions before sinking significant spend into these assets.

Regardless, as the trend towards increased social media usage and influencers entering the mainstream continues, this is an area that brands need to be considering very, very seriously. Influencers may not be clear champions of digital marketing right now, but they are certainly putting up a fight for the title.

Enjoy this blog? Take a look at our blog on Striking a Balance Between New and Proven Media for more insights. And while you’re at it, subscribe to our newsletter and follow our updates on LinkedIn and Twitter!


You should probably settle….

It’s Autumn which only means one thing – Married At First Sight (MAFS) UK on E4. Whilst undeniably entertaining, MAFS crystallises a point about dating and life made by Oliver Burkeman in his book Four Thousand Weeks. That point is that people should be more...

Spider-Man: The Ultimate Origin Story

In the vast universe of superheroes, one name stands out as an emblem of relatability, resilience, and redemptive power: Spider-Man. So, it makes sense that he's the cultural phenomenon we have chosen as this months Hook Top Trump! Since 1962, Peter Parker’s everyman...

A new era of Big Brother

When Big Brother launched last century it was totally new and authentic. Contestants had no idea that Big Brother would pull in huge audiences, and acted accordingly: some contestants were comfortingly humdrum feeding chickens and reading books; and some, like Nasty...

Hook’s Iconic Animated Male Leads for Kids

As promised, following last week's non- animated and animated iconic female leads we have the male leads. All of us at Hook Towers have collaboratively put these lists together in response to The Guardian's top 50 kids' shows to binge over the summer. There were so...

Creating Little Happy Learners with Sophie David

Little Happy Learners was founded by Sophie David, an ex primary school teacher and Early Years Foundation Stage specialist. Using her expertise in education, Sophie launched Little Happy Learners in 2019. She now has over 170k followers on her Instagram page, a...

Ninja Turtles: A Timeless Pop Culture Phenomenon

The world of pop culture is riddled with iconic characters, but few have stood the test of time quite like the Ninja Turtles.  And their blend of martial arts, mutant animals, heroism pizza eating and catchphrases.At its core, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the DNA...

Team Hook’s Favourite Books

September is always a big month for parents and kids alike, because it always means one thing: back to school. There are a lot of things that can be associated with the start of a new school year; for kids it’s the excitement (and sometimes nervousness) of new...

Free Resources to Support Learning at Home

To help welcome children in primary aged groups back to school, we’ve put together ten free resources. These can be used at home to support your child with different areas of learning. Area of learning: Managing stress and worries Resource: @TheMindfulnessTeacher Age:...

Hook’s Iconic Non-Animated Male Leads for Kids

As promised, following our recent post and in response to The Guardian's top 50 kids' shows to binge over the summer... we have the non-animated male leads. A lot of tough choices and some disagreements here at Hook Towers... especially over The Suite Life of Zack and...

More posts in this category

get a digest of our latest thoughts delivered to your inbox


Don't Miss Out!

Each month, Hook's experts create a roundup of hot takes and insights into the Kids and Media industries...for free!

This information will never be shared with third parties