Influencer Marketing: Humm Kombucha on Instagram
Social media is a key way for kombucha companies to reach customers and prospects. As we’ve shown, Instagram is by far the most popular social media channel. Fully 99% of brands in our worldwide directory have an account.
Social media marketers tout the effectiveness of ‘Influencer Marketing’ on Instagram, and claim it is an $8 billion business:
Instagram influencer marketing removes the barriers of traditional advertising because customers are introduced to your brand from a trusted source (the influencer) on an authentic, casual platform (Instagram). When an influencer recommends a product or service on their channels, it can come across as a trusted recommendation from a friend.
Back in February 2019 we saw that Juneshine listed brand ambassadors (influencers) on their website and we analyzed the reach these key individuals had on Instagram by the number of followers.
While not as upfront as Juneshine (there’s no list of brand ambassadors on their site), it’s easy to see that Humm is currently employing a number of influencers on Instagram. Search for #hummkombucha and you’ll find a somewhat repetitive set of pictures of (mostly) slender young women (and a couple of guys) holding the product.
Some of the influencers state that their post is a “Paid partnership with Humm Kombucha”
It’s fascinating to see that most of the influencers post text which they have obviously modified from boilerplate supplied by the company. Many mention that the drink contains B12 (“for more energy and a brighter mood”), is rich in probiotics and can be ordered from Amazon.
Friends of friends
While the marketers claim that these posts come across as a “trusted recommendation from a friend” it’s interesting to see the friends of friends who add comments. For while the original post is often by someone with just a few thousand followers (and presumably paid accordingly) the subsequent endorsements in the Comments are often from heavy hitters.
Here’s the exmaple of a post by @lifeanista who is a “Lifestyle blogger” based in New York with 7,863 followers. Her post is one that reveals it’s a paid partnership:
The number of comments that arrive simultaneously a few hours after the original post points to some kind of automated process. The tone of the comments also seems suspiciously inauthentic: “try some of these”, “Oh I might need to try…”, “Oh I’d like to try…”
In fact, it seems clear that some of the influencers are using what is known as Comment Bots that allow users to write comments for one another that are then automatically posted. Users of these tools let others know that they would like to receive targeted comments. The paid bots range in price from under $10 to $85 per 100
spam automated comments.
Dangers of Influencer Marketing
While there are obvious advantages to engaging with the public on social media (especially interactive platforms like Facebook and Twitter) there are a number of dangers to be aware of. These include posts that are at risk of seeming inauthentic (“try some of these”) and don’t declare they are in fact sponsored.
Indeed A study from Bazaarvoice reports that 47% of customers are tired of influencer content that appears inauthentic and 62% of customers believe that influencer endorsements take advantage of impressionable audiences.
At the end of the day, Humm Kombucha’s 34,1000 Instagram followers are probably better served by posts describing the awesome work the company is doing to provide refreshments to healthcare workers battling the current COVID-19 pandemic than by dubious influencers.