social media

Plugged in: influencers

Influencer marketing: it’s advertising born of social media, but is it more than a buzz term? And how does it relate to the residential design and building industry?


Sarah O'Donovan

Today’s consumers – particularly the upcoming home buyers, millennials – have grown up in an age characterised by commissions, inquiries, malpractice exposés, fake product reviews, and the aftermath of successful but damaging advertising campaigns from industries such as tobacco and fast food.
Understandably anyone born from the early 80s through to mid-90s (commonly referred to as millennials) don’t trust big companies. And they certainly don’t trust traditional advertisements. 
So how do you get their attention and, most importantly, capture their confidence? One way is through referrals and recommendations. Interestingly, this became apparent on Facebook a few years ago when groups began growing in popularity. Interacting with fellow consumers and bonding over shared hobbies and interests, younger consumers soon found these communities were a great resource for finding candid advice and recommendations for everything from car models through to diet regimes and even real estate. 
From this social wave of change came an industry where certain individuals stood out as being powerful enough to affect purchasing decisions by informing and engaging with their audience. All hail the birth of the influencer.
While influencers are paid by a brand or business to post their recommendations on their own pages, and local advertising standards generally advise (if not require) full disclosure where a post is a paid ad, the sponsored post is still proving to be hugely successful because it presents as a more trustworthy source of information for young consumers. 
This type of ad feels more legitimate as a recommendation because the material is not coming from the company directly, but from a secondary source who endorses the products or work of a company. It is generally trusted that an influencer should only promote products and services they have tried, tested, and believe in because their personal brand and identity is on the line should they recommend a dodgy product or service. 
Young consumers’ expectation for transparency increased and advertising standards surrounding influencer advertising were tightened after the unfolding of Fyre Festival in 2017.
The event, which sold ticket holders an idyllic dream of an island-resort-turned-music-festival party in the Bahamas, has gone down in recent history as the poster child for disastrous online and influencer advertising. 

Influencer posts made up most of the marketing campaign, with many models and celebrities being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the festival which ultimately turned out to be a farce. The celebrities were criticised, and in some cases penalised, for the lack of transparency in advertising a festival they knew very little about and had no intentions of attending. 
Since then, influencers have needed to be much more cautious about what they endorse to avoid being penalised by the local advertising standards body. Today’s influencers are more candid, with most ads clearly labelled as such, and consumers are putting even more trust in them as a result, giving them props for their honesty. 

All of this has shaped the online influencer marketplace of 2020 and it has become a lucrative and valuable method of advertising in any industry. In a way, we’ve reverted to ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising and, while it used to be the case that money couldn’t buy word-of-mouth advertising, the changing dynamics of online social interactions have made it easier than ever before for a business to advertise in a transparent way that suits its brand identity, budget and clientele. But where do you start?

Promoting through an influencer

How can you harness the power of an influencer to promote your business? With a little creativity, the influencer marketing approach can be adopted to any industry.

Influencers are particularly prominent on Instagram which is, by nature, a visual medium. Big-name figures and influencers in the residential accommodation space might typically be interior designers and real estate agents, both of whom will be able to refer followers, clients and customers to their preferred builder and architect.

A good way to find local and relevant influencers is to search hashtags within your niche, for example ‘#PerthHomes’ or ‘#ApartmentLiving’ and have a look at the names that come up multiple times in the popular posts. You can then reach out to them directly, or their agent if one is listed, to ask about partnering up. 
Following industry influencers


Following industry leaders and influencers can also help to keep you in the loop when it comes to industry updates, trends, news and more. 


Industry influencers include figures such as The Block contestants, Scott Cam and other TV personalities, Peter Maddison and Barry Du Bois to Shaynna Blaze. These public figures have come from the building industry and have each taken different routes in their careers, demonstrating the power of building a personal brand in the media. 


Make sure you’re also following local real estate sellers and interior design firms to get on their radar and stay in the loop. 


Beyond the realm of social media, podcasts are also a great way to tap into a wealth of industry knowledge. HIA’s Digital Marketing Specialist Jessica Cawsey recommends Get It Right with Undercover Architect, which regularly features industry leaders and figures along with host and Australian architect Amelia Lee. 


Lastly, be sure to join your regional Facebook page for localised updates (go to the HIA Facebook page and click the ‘groups’ tab).



Becoming an influencer


If you’re game enough, you might want to become the influencer yourself. Becoming an influencer requires some dedicated time each week to styling, photographing, editing and creating content. 


Most influencers have a noticeable style or theme to their page and they won’t often veer away from it, so it’s a good idea to update your branding strategy if you haven’t done so recently to ensure it is consistent across platforms. 


This can be as broad as ensuring you’re using the latest logo and colours on all posts, or as specific as figuring out which filters, hashtags and font you will use on your posts. 


These small details make a big difference, so finalise the details and plan before you post. 

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