Opinion

Influencer marketing is just marketing

After a barrage of think pieces and LinkedIn posts decrying influencer marketing as 'fake' marketing, Cassandra Demasi makes the case for why separating old and new isn't the way forward.

When people ask me what I do for work, I struggle to come up with a simple response. I often start with “Oh, I’m in marketing,” Continued with “but not traditional marketing, I do online marketing – you know how there’s those ‘insta famous’ people? Well I find, manage and strategise with them on how to promote the brand.”

This is then met with either a blank stare or their eyes would light up and I’d receive an excitable “So, you Instagram all day?” Not exactly…

Influencer marketing

There is still a grey area around influencer marketing – what it is, should brands be doing it, where does a brand even begin with it? I had these same questions not too long ago when I began working in this area. Having studied a Bachelor of Marketing and Communication at The University of South Australia and having worked in a traditional marketing space for three years, I felt as though my theoretical and practical marketing knowledge had become outdated.

So, I started to do some research. I rounded up blog articles, looked at what other brands were doing, searched LinkedIn for people in the field to connect with and went right to the source – influencers themselves. What I found was, overall, there’s limited knowledge out there. This is such a fresh form of marketing that information is still largely theoretical. This being said, I didn’t quit until I had exhausted all my available resources.

A lot of blogs I read treated influencer marketing as though it were some brand new Holy Grail for brands to discover. I don’t mean to disregard the importance of influencer marketing, however, in my opinion, there was nothing exceptionally groundbreaking  about it.

What I did find was a lot of information that reinforced what I already knew; people are consuming information differently these days which has led to a shift away from traditional marketing. What hasn’t changed is the way we understand buyer and consumer behaviour. Let me explain…

How marketing was

A brand had a product that they wanted to tell the world about. The brand knows that consumers form associations with people, places and things. If they tapped into the consumers’ minds and inspired an emotional reaction enough times, people would eventually buy, right?

So, traditionally they’d invest thousands of dollars into catchy radio jingles, eye catching commercials and full page advertisements. Spoiler: This is where marketing has changed.

Marketing today

Fast forward to today, a brand still has a product that they want to tell the world about, however, consumers don’t really care about being “sold” on said product.

They’re more concerned about what influential people are saying about it on social media. Take Kylie Jenner, one of the biggest influencers in the world. Just last week she wore an outfit from an Australian brand and posted it to her Instagram account.

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

The outfit sold out within minutes and the brand gained 3,000 Instagram followers, according to The Daily Telegraph. This is a key example of new marketing. The quicker brands realise the power of influencer marketing and the positive impact it can have on raising brand awareness, the sooner it will become less of a trend and more of a shift in the way we permanently see and do marketing.

So, to answer the question centered around what I do for work; I am in marketing. I have a traditional education which allows me to understand the principles of marketing, buyer behaviour and branding. However, I’ve also allowed myself to evolve as the market does. Influencers are here to stay and taking the time to understand it will prove imperative to your marketing efforts.

Cassandra Demasi is global marketing and influencer manager at Ryderwear. This post first appeared on LinkedIn.

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