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Before I became VP of Sales here at Sway Group, I spent many years in traditional media advertising, primarily in the broadcast television space. If you’re not familiar with that industry and you’re curious about how much money is still being spent on ads most of us stopped watching years ago, the answer is … a lot.

I mean, a LOT.

Traditional Advertising vs Influencer Marketing

Even though social platforms and other tech advancements have revolutionized how brands can connect with customers, there are plenty of companies who aren’t ready to break away from old-school advertising methods.

Sadly for them, this is largely an investment with no good return.

Not only are there much better options for reaching today’s consumers, studies are showing that people no longer trust traditional ads (and in fact are mostly skipping them whenever possible). With reports like Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising saying that 83 percent of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over traditional ads, it’s time to stop pouring cash into marketing methods that don’t pay off.

Ads in Traditional Media Are Annoying

Now that I have Sirius XM and Spotify, I don’t listen to radio ads. I read most of my news and entertainment online, rather than via print publications. I recycle the direct mail before it even makes it into my house. I record all of my favorite television shows so I can skip the commercials.

Generic ads that interrupt my viewing/listening/reading experience are intrusive and annoying. But sponsored posts from an influencer? That’s a different story. I realize I’m not exactly an impartial observer, but research shows that this type of native advertising is far less intrusive and bypasses ad blockers and “banner blindness.”  Not only is the product or service promoted by an influencer far more likely to be relevant to my interests, the promotion (when done correctly) isn’t an interruption — it’s a seamless extension of the influencer’s typical content.

If you look to the younger demographics, the move away from traditional media is even more dramatic. Recent studies show that 84% of polled millennials stated they did not like traditional marketing and, what’s more, they didn’t trust it, while 87% do approve product placements in content created by their favorite digital personalities.

Influencers Have Built-in Credibility

When I follow someone on Instagram, I am opting in to what they have to say. There’s something about them that I find to be valuable (whether that’s entertainment, inspiration, education, etc.) and that feeling extends to their sponsored content.

why influencer marketing works

When an influencer I follow shares a brand message, it’s coming from someone I’m interested in, whose recommendations routinely resonate with me. The best kind of influencer marketing feels like a helpful hint from a friend. Because we all curate our feeds to match our interests, there’s a high likelihood that a sponsored post will be relevant to the people who see it.

Influencers Are More Cost-Effective (Usually!)

Now, using Chrissy Teigen as an example, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s pretty expensive to work with her, what with her 24.1m followers and all. (Chrissy, if I’m wrong, call me!)

Most influencers don’t come with this celebrity-level price tag, though. It can be quite affordable to work with nano and micro influencers who have a smaller but loyal and engaged following. Even large-scale campaigns usually cost much less than traditional content creation and media buys.

With traditional marketing, you need a pretty hefty budget right from the start. Influencer marketing is scalable: begin with a few influencers, and expand your efforts to match your growth.

Bottom line: Old-school advertising just doesn’t measure up to influencer marketing. Ads are a conversational dead end, while influencer content is highly interactive. Ads often operate by the “spray and pray” method, while influencer posts are extremely targeted. Traditional advertising is difficult to measure. Influencer marketing lets you track every single point of engagement in order to understand the impact.

the role of influencers in digital marketing quote

Influencer marketing works because it doesn’t just advertise a product, it offers true value to readers. In the end, people trust people, not commercials — and that’s why influencer marketing is here to stay.

Are you ready to make a bigger impact with your marketing? Let’s talk. I’d love to have the chance to tell you more about what Sway can do for you.