If you are active on Instagram, you probably are familiar with so called ‘influencers’. Influencers are people that are extremely active on Instagram and have built a certain credibility in a specific industry. Influencers post a lot of authentic content on Instagram and have often generated large numbers of engaged followers who trust them (Pixlee, 2019). Influencers have the power to affect the opinions and purchase decisions of their followers and more and more businesses are starting to work with them. The influencers post content featuring certain brands in exchange for money or gifts.
In the last couple of years, the influencer marketing industry has grown immensely. In the image below you can see that the industry value this year will be double compared to the value of two years ago (Influencer MarketingHub, 2019).
Why is this marketing channel so popular? On Instagram, people have endless choices on what they would like to see. This is creating a problem for businesses as it is getting harder to reach their desirable audience. Influencer marketing offers a solution because businesses can target large audiences by letting influencers promote their product to their followers (Mathew, 2018). Nowadays consumers are becoming more sceptical about ads created by brands so another advantage of Instagram marketing is the fact that followers trust the influencers (Mathew, 2018).
Influencer marketing might be the perfect solution for large, international businesses who have a large amount of funds but it might be too expensive for small, local businesses. Popular influencers also have an audience consisting from people all over the world which means that the reach is too broad. There is some research that even suggests that a cooperation with influencers that have a large number of followers can be negative for a business as it decreases the perceived uniqueness of the business (De Veirman, Cauberghe & Hudders, 2017)
As a result, a growing amount of businesses is starting to work with micro-influencers, which are influencers with less than 3000 followers. It is less expensive to collaborate with them, they have higher follower engagement and businesses can specifically target the niche that they operate in (Influencer MarketingHub, 2019).
So, Influencer marketing is on the rise, but there is also countermovement that argues that people reached a peak of trust in online influencers. Influencers are moving closer towards traditional media brands. The distinction between sponsorships and authentic recommendations is becoming vague and people do not know who to trust (Quoc, 2017). This is where Cirkle comes in and offers a solution.
What is Cirkle?
Think about your own Instagram behaviour, you’ve probably posted a picture of yourself and your friends in your favourite restaurant or in your new clothes just for fun. But what if you could get a reward for doing it?
Cirkle is a Dutch marketing- and loyalty platform where customers or visitors can promote and recommend their favourite businesses in exchange for discount on their next purchase. Cirkle’s vision is that everybody counts; it doesn’t matter whether you have 10 or 10.000 followers. Everyone on Instagram has a unique reach which can be valuable to businesses. Their idea is that businesses can outsource their social media marketing via the Cirkle platform to their own customers (Cirkle, 2019a).
How does it work for users?
Instagram users can download the Cirkle app and view which businesses participate on the platform. Whenever users create authentic content featuring one of the participating businesses, they can post this content on their Instagram via the Cirkle app and recommend it to their own ‘inner circle’. The Cirkle app will make sure that the user will enclose the right tags and hashtags so the content is on point. As a reward for promoting the business, the user receives a discount. The discount depends on the reach and engagement on the user’s Instagram profile. The user can spend this discount the next time he or she visits the store (Cirkle, 2019b). So basically, users can get rewards for fun pictures they would normally post just by using the Cirkle app.
How does it work for businesses?
Businesses can register themselves on the platform for free and whenever someone posts content via the Cirkle app, the businesses pay a fixed fee of two euros. Cirkle helps businesses to increase their brand awareness and to create more instore traffic. Their own customers or visitors recommend the business on their Instagram which means that businesses reach new potential customers. Next to this, Cirkle also encourages customers or visitors to return to the business as they have discount that they can spend there. Cirkle also enables businesses to accurately track their Instagram presence by offering them data insights via their own dashboard. This way, companies can keep track of their social media presence. In order to make the platform accessible to all businesses, businesses can set a maximum amount of discount that a Cirkle user can earn. This way, it will be affordable for all businesses (Cirkle, 2019c).
I think that the platform is an innovative way to respond to the influencer marketing trend. Users can get rewarded for posting pictures they would post anyway which sounds extremely good. Businesses can outsource their marketing to their own customers, reach a larger audience and gets more loyal customers. Next to this, people on Instagram will get recommendations from their friends who they probably trust more than an influencer who was paid to promote the product.
Currently, Cirkle is still testing their platform so it is not yet available to the public. From 15 March 2019, it will be available to the public and around 500 businesses spread across Amsterdam and Rotterdam already joined the platform. So, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming an Instagram influencer, this is your chance!
Cirkle (2019a) Over ons. Accessed via https://www.cirkle.social/about-cirkle/
Cirkle (2019b) User. Accessed via https://www.cirkle.social/user/
Cirkle (2019c) Business. Accessed via https://www.cirkle.social/business/
De Veirman, M., Cauberghe, V., & Hudders, L. (2017). Marketing through Instagram influencers: the impact of number of followers and product divergence on brand attitude. International Journal of Advertising, 36(5), 798-828.
Influencer MarketingHub (2019). Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report: 2019. Accessed via https://influencermarketinghub.com/IM_Benchmark_Report_2019.pdf
Mathew, J (2018, 30 July). Understanding Influencer Marketing And Why It Is So Effective. Accessed via https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/07/30/understanding-influencer-marketing-and-why-it-is-so-effective/#d35a9b871a94
Pixlee (2019). What is a social media influencer? Accessed via https://www.pixlee.com/definitions/definition-social-media-influencer
Quoc, M. (2017, 15 Dec) Millenials Are Losing Trust in Online Influencers. Here’s What Marketers Can Do. Accessed via https://medium.com/dealspotr/influencer-marketing-tips-millennials-trust-da946f0bce18