10 Things You Should Know About Influencer Marketing and Tackling UN Sustainable Development Goals

By February 11, 2022News

Looking for tips and tricks regarding influencer marketing and how you as a business/consumer can use this to help tackle UN Sustainable Goals? This blog will slow down the fast-paced industry and provide information that will allow you to become more sustainably in tune.

  1. Influencer Marketing – What is it?

Firstly, we must understand the definition of Influencer Marketing and what it is being used for. This is a modern strategy that is progressively used by companies in order to promote their products or services. 

These businesses often choose those with an influential opinion such as leaders [influencers], celebrities/non-celebrities with a large amount of following over social media platforms such as Instagram. Companies aim to use this following and influence to give positive behavioural responses from their followers/customers. 

This marketing strategy is often successful due to the influencers strong foundations with their followers, the influencer is seen as trustworthy and therefore potential consumers often purchase products they advertise. 

  1. UN Sustainable Development Goals – What are they?

Once we’ve understood what Influencer Marketing is, we can start to target certain campaigns or goals in order to produce awareness on the topic. The UN Sustainable Development Agenda, aiming to be completed by 2030, was elected by the now 193 United Nations Member States in 2015. At the core are the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals which provide a footprint for all participants to aim for to ensure the safety of our planet and the people and animals within it. 

Listed below are the UN Sustainable Goals, many of which could be tackled with the help of Influencer Marketing. Ensuring Influencers are promoting ethical and sustainably sourced products/services will engage the issue with their followers and therefore they are more likely to purchase such products when next on the hunt to buy. A study from Forbes Magazine states that 77% of people want to learn to live more sustainably. This can show that with the push of influencers [especially from ages 18-25], these customers can learn more about what it is to be sustainable within day-to-day life.


  1. Social Media and Consumer Buying Habits

In recent years, more customers’ buying decisions are influenced by what they see on social media, specifically Instagram. For example, according to Statista data, investment from companies through Instagram has risen from £1.07million to £2.38million [2019]. Two main factors give reasoning behind this. 

Firstly, customers are consuming more content driven by influencers, and apps such as TikTok and Instagram are seeing more views by the day. For example, a study by Insider Intelligence predicts that TikTok will reach 755 million monthly users in 2022. Secondly, consumers now use social media platforms like Instagram to influence their buying decisions. 

Evidence of this is that 71% of consumers state that a large – named account would potentially change their buying decision based on what they promote. These statistics are one of the main reasons why 57% of companies already work alongside influencers. 

  1. The Growth of Social Media

Over the last 15 years, most of us have adapted to a life online, insomuch as Social Media and SmartPhones have become second nature. MySpace was the first social media site to reach a million monthly active users, this was achieved in 2004. Facebook soon took over and has been the market dominator for the last decade. However, with the new generation of Influencer Marketing, other platforms are beginning to flourish. Using Social Media [especially for businesses] has become a way of promoting products and targeting audiences. 

A study by Our World Data states that now, one-in-three people in the world use social media. That’s at least 3.5 Billion of us online. The graph below shows the overall growth of social media platforms from 2004-2019. This information shows just how much influence a government/influencer campaign could produce when relating back to the UN Sustainable Goals.


  1. Influencers – The Need for Change

There are now several popular influencers and celebrities already making it their goal to help the UNSDGs, including Greta Thunberg, Emma Watson and Grace Beverly. Climate Action – Sustainable Goal 13 “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” is something which Greta Thunberg has made her mission to encourage and influence. She has developed a large presence throughout social media and within physical protests. In 2018 she managed to gather 20,000 students from the UK to Japan to join her “Skipping School” protest march to draw attention to this Climate Change Crisis. 

This is a great example of how an influencer can relay vital information from the UN. Grace Beverly Forbes, an under 30 business owner, is another example of a major environmental influencer. She has produced two multi-million pound companies of which the products are 100% sustainable and recycled. Her one million followers are encouraged not to buy on every launch so that she can work towards reducing fast fashion and in turn helping to reduce climate change. 

She is a great example of how new sustainable online retailers can help in the race to achieve these UNSDGs. Gender Equality – Sustainable Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, is a goal which businesses, especially in the UK are petitioning for with the #PledgeforProgress being campaigned in over 100 organisations. This pledge is to allow the Equal Rights of Women Co- workers including pay and anti-discrimination. 

Social Media companies Google, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok took the UN Vow to battle against the abuse of women online. The UN Paris took the influencer media by storm and popular actress and women’s rights activist Emma Watson shared #HeforShe hashtags encouraging men to get on board with women’s rights and equal eay. As of July 2020, the hashtag has been shared just under 1 million times. Since these hashtags first appeared, over half of the corporate partners now have at least 40% of their board made up of women. These figures show that social media campaigns performed by large influencers can make a great difference to the EUSDGs, consumers and businesses listen to and idolise these people so their options influence and change decisions all over the globe. 

  1. Producing/Purchasing Sustainable Products

When delving into the life of becoming more sustainable, it is important to research what the businesses you are using stand for and support. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, 90% of CEOs state that sustainability is important to their companies’ success. For Example, MCH London is a sustainable and responsible advertising agency. They work behind the scenes supporting both environmental and ethical campaigns to ensure they are doing all they can to push for a cleaner world. 

They are one of 5,227 businesses in the Race to Zero Campaign. The objective of this environmental campaign is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.  This will send governments a signal that business, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals and creating a more inclusive and resilient economy. MCH also works with The Conscious Advertising Network. This is a voluntary coalition of over 70 companies to ensure that industry ethics catches up with the technology of today’s advertising. 

The group aims to stop advertising abuse by engaging with the participating organisations and giving them information about choices they can make to perform good practice. Finally, MCH works with B Lab. This is a nonprofit network which is transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet. B Lab is known for certifying B Corporations which are companies that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. All in all, when buying products or services it is vital that we are using companies like MCH London who are actively seeking ways in which to benefit the planet and the people and animals within it.

  1. Followers Trust in the Influencer

If Influencer Marketing is going to work for your business, it is important that the followers of said influencer trust them. The Influencer industry is set to reach £15 billion by 2022, a study by Forbes suggested. Data from MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. That statistic suggests that most, if not all companies promoting sustainable and ethical products should seek an influencer that people can trust which will allow for more sustainable purchasing. A study comparing influencer shopping recommendations v. friends and family shopping recommendations by Gen, states that 33% said they would trust an influencer over friends and family but only 17% say they would trust family and friends more. 

  1. Having Your Voice 

Although we are not all social media influencers with millions of followers, it does not mean that 3.5 billion of us do not have a voice. Sharing and petitioning online can draw attention no matter how many followers you have. For example, “share to plant a tree” was posted by a group called PlantATreeCo – an environmental organisation that was set up with the aim of planting a million trees by the end of 2021. The trend consisted of sharing a photo of your pet to plant a tree. 

The post blew up and has since been shared over 4 million times on Instagram. Although the organisation came out and said that they did not expect this much media attention from the post, their aim is to use the publicity generated to gather financial backing for this to be executed. This goes to show that anyone can take part in the social media environmental trend and the more people follow it, the more businesses and governments will back campaigns like this. 

  1. Potential Backlash

Now we’ve looked at the positives of having Influencer Marketing within a business, we must now unfortunately look at some backlashes. Although Influencers’ lives [especially through Instagram and Youtube] look perfect, they are still human. When influencers make mistakes there can be a backlash towards them and the brands they work with. There are a few common mistakes that Influencers make which in turn affect their following and their credibility. These include, saying ‘yes’ to each and every brand that approaches them which can mean that their opinion/beliefs can be mixed and therefore followers can become confused or angry about why they are supporting certain brands. 

For example, they may promote ethical and unethical brands, meaning that they could lose followers if they are being contradictive. Another major mistake is voicing strong or discriminatory opinions online which will often lose followers or cause brands not to work with them. Often, if old comments/posts appear with these opinions come to light, it may tarnish the influencers name and the brands they work with. For example, in recent months, a famous Instagram and Youtube Influencer was called out for racist and other discriminatory tweets found by followers from 10 years ago. In the space of a week she lost over 200,000 followers [Instagram] and succumbed to extreme hate over social media. 

This caused her brand and the people she worked with also to have the same tarnished opinion by her followers. Relating this to the EUSDGs, it is vital that the brands working to support this campaign, work with influencers who do as well. If something like this influencer’s case were to happen to someone supporting these EU Goals, then followers could also turn against fighting for these to be completed.

  1. Instagram Paid Promotions

Instagram Influencers are paid depending on how many overall followers they have, for example, if you have 10,000 followers the average pay is around £80 per post. However, if an influencer has 1million followers or more they are averaging £600- 800 per post. 

A great example, to put into perspective, of just how much an influencer can make is Zoella. A recent article by Influencer Marketing Hub estimates that she can earn anywhere from £18,138 -30,230 per Instagram grid post. These figures and the ones displayed below [celebrities with the highest average earnings per sponsored Instagram post in 2021], just show how much money the Social Media /Instagram Market can make an influencer or celebrity. 




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Ella Lewis

Author Ella Lewis

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