Influencer marketing is the new trend in branding, but truth is, it has been around for ever since I can remember.
Of course, influencer marketing has changed dramatically, as did the market itself. The concept usually revolves around a brand being associated with a certain person or character (blogger etc).
Someone who is truly relevant for the product’s audience.
The most important thing in this equation is the fact that the target audience needs to resonate with that influencer, look up to them in a way that not only can but will definitely influence their way of using the product/service.
The early stages of influencer marketing had nothing to do with public figures but rather with iconic characters.
Remember the cowboy from the Marlboro commercials? Probably the biggest influencer of the decade.
How about Coke’s Santa, Mcdonald’s’ Ronald or Old Spice’s manliest man alive?
Now that is what we call the ancestors of influencer marketing.
The first thing you need to take into consideration when choosing or creating your influencer is the audience. When you start a marketing campaign, or even when you try to put the first bricks of your brand wall, you need to be aware that not every contact you’ll have with a person/potential customer, will turn into a sell. And that is perfectly fine.
They say that any kind of promotion still counts as a promotion. It’s like pizza, even if it’s bad it’s good. And that’s where awareness jumps in.
In order to be able to turn as much awareness contact into sales, you need to make sure your audience is like a niche. Very specific, and goal oriented.
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE – MERGING
The whole point of social media advertising is creating a buzz around your product that will lead to awareness. Building an audience is the most common goal that most brands look to achieve. Influencer marketing does just that.
Associating yourself with a certain influencer gives your company access to a whole new target audience. It’s like syncing your contacts from your iPhone to your Macbook. It gives your brand a whole new exposure.
THE PRODUCT LIFECYCLE
Depending on which lifecycle stage, your product is at, this influencer marketing can have different effects and benefits.
For instance, if your product is the introduction stage, then you have two possibilities.
Create your marketing influencer as a character and grow together or associate your brand with a popular person.
This last option will help you accelerate the growth stage in comparison to the normal flow.
But the association with an influencer doesn’t happen exclusively in these two stages. Let’s say your brand finds itself in the maturity stage. It is already popular, you already have your loyal clients (which we all know are the most important).
Sometimes, brands and personalities unite their power to benefit them both.
Let’s take a look at L’Oreal and Eva Longoria. They’re both famous and have a large audience, but they united their power, even though neither of them was in need of growth.
WHO DO WE CALL AN “INFLUENCER”?
They are remarkable, memorable, relatable and most important, relevant for the audience. As I mentioned before, they can be characters that are created for your brand. Like you would build a character that would be the representation of what people are looking for when looking for a product like yours.
The second and most common practice is associating your brand with an already famous person, preferably in your domain, that already has a built audience. This kind of association is also known as celebrity endorsement.
The biggest and kind of the only difference between them is that celebrity endorsement uses the fame of a celebrity, while influencer marketing counts on the word of mouth.
Still, I could say that celebrity endorsement is a niche of influencer marketing, and still be right, because it’s a particular case of the same principle.
The third option would be making one of your own the influencer. What do I mean by that?
Think about Mark Zuckerberg. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when thinking about him? I bet it’s Facebook. Now that we are on the same page, think about what did you know about him before the whole Facebook story began?!
Exactly. He became an influencer and his popularity grew, together with the brand itself. And it’s exactly this, that makes him even more believable.
What about Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey or Elon Musk?
They’re all on the same boat. Both themselves and their brands have a huge influence in their domain, and that gives them power.
THE EMOTIONAL TRIGGER
It has been known for a while that emotions have a bigger impact on the consumer behavior. In a study by Psychology Today, they mention Antonio Damasio’s book, Descartes Error, in which he sustains that emotion is an essential part of all human decisions.
But this whole case scenario is influenced by the origin of the product as well. If the product is something of low involvement, such as detergent, or toothpaste, the emotional involvement is not that big. But this changes as soon as the product enters another category. Clothes, cars, mobile phones and so on.
The degree of emotional involvement in these purchases is huge, because people think that these products represent them.
Think about it this way. There is a hierarchy of product needs. Some of them, we have the possibility to change so often that they are not part of a big process decision. Some are just basic needs.
Let’s say you want to buy a clock. You need it because you want to be able to set the alarm in the morning, but you don’t really care what it looks like or how expensive is it.
This situation changes quickly when we talk about high emotional involvement. Products like your watch (even though it does the same thing), or perfume, or even jewelry, are treated like an extension of the customer’s personality.
MY INFLUENCER IS GREATER THAN YOURS!
Look around you and think about your neighbors.
They are an average-income family, but still, they have a huge house, and each of the adults is driving different premium cars.
Why? Because people tend to buy items from the product category they aspire to, not the ones they actually fit in. And that is exactly why you should associate your brand with an influencer whose influence is more powerful than yours, on its own.
If you don’t feel ready to “tie the knot” with an influencer, for better or for worse, until death parts you…you should think about another common practice called celebrity endorsements.
This practice is similar to influencer marketing, but it is usually defined on a shorter period for time, and counts on the fame of a celebrity. Like the launch of a new flavor of your favorite soda, or a limited line of clothes and so on.
Think about Puma Fenty by Rihanna or Mountain Dew Ice with Morgan Freeman. Up until the point of these collaborations, these celebrities and the brand they represent had nothing to do with each other. Sometimes, these collaborations are a “once in a lifetime” kind of thing, as it probably is for Morgan & the Dews.
Other times, the grand success of the association makes it extend, such as Rihanna and Puma’s relationship. Whichever the case, it still counts as influencer marketing strategy.
INFLUENCER MARKETING PLATFORMS
Even though it is an obvious statement, the most famous social media marketing platform for influencers is….. (badum tss) Instagram.
The history of Instagram throws us back in ‘10. Long story short, Instagram aka Insta as we all know it, began as a photography app. Bingo!
Photography > Visuals > Display Advertising.
A perfect opportunity for all the brands out there to get extra exposure. And what’s better than reaching people in their free time. When they scroll through the newsfeed looking for something that interests them.
What’s better than having people reach out to you instead of being the other way around?
The perfect, most suited environment for display ads. Of course, the early ages of influencer marketing on Instagram was not as transparent as it is nowadays.
Marketers saw an opportunity of developing, what we call as “disguised advertising”. But soon, the audience caught up on that and marketers all over the world stepped up their game and went for transparency.
Last year, the FTC clarified in a press release what are the terms of sponsored collaborations. Their recommendations revolve around being honest about the association, conspicuously disclosing it.
Of course, these recommendations don’t apply exclusively to Instagram, but to all other channels, such as Youtube, Facebook and so on.
But Instagram changed the game of sponsored posts ever since it adopted a branded content policy. This is definitely a step towards transparency between the Instagram community and businesses that use branded content a way of promotion.
WHY GO FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
Around less than a year ago, NewsWhip took a look at the impact of traditional marketing efforts in comparison with the influencer campaigns and the results were, as you would expect, in the favor of the last one.
As you can see in the picture above, Instagram influencers have a bigger impact. And not only that, but the difference is huge. In the case of JetBlue, jumping from 2.363 to 241,226 can really make the difference. Improving engagement 102 times can definitely be considered a benefit of influencer marketing.
Of course, engagement rates can vary from brand to brand, industry to industry, but ratios can go up to 60% higher. Don’t try to run after the big ones. I’m talking about the social media influencers. Better look for one that matches your audience and internet marketing strategies. When speaking of ROI, TapInfluence’s study found influencer marketing is 11 times more powerful than regular marketing strategies and campaigns.
We all know that besides being a photography-inspired social media environment, Instagram is the #hashtagking.
When adopting an influencer marketing strategy the first thing you need to be aware of is the use of hashtags. You need to be as clear as possible with your potential customers. Use hashtags that reflect the nature of your collaboration, such as #sponsored, #promoted, #paid #ad,#paid #partnership, #ambassador and other variations.
Even though one of them is in theory enough to disclose your paid content, some of these may not be as suggestive as the others. That is why most social media influencers use a combination of hashtags and sometimes even all of the ones mentioned above.
Whichever hashtag combo you’re going for, remember that the most important thing is to not fool your audience. And even if you think you didn’t, they might think differently. So, remember to take into consideration your customers’ perspective.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT INFLUENCER FOR YOUR BRAND?
The social media influencer definition revolves around the affiliation between:
- A brand/product
- A person or personality with a wide target audience in a particular domain
It is also worth mentioning that the person mentioned above, has to have a high authority and authenticity level, in the social media environment.
Reach is less important than relevance. Never ever let yourself be fooled by numbers. You know what I like to say?!
Relevance outnumbers, when numbers aren’t relevant.
And it’s true! No matter how big and wide is your reach, if they are not relevant, they won’t mean a thing. Reduce your reach and go for authenticity. Choose somebody that your potential clients resonate with.
It’s like playing poker. It needs to be a match between A, K, Q, J and 10, all the same suit in order to be a match.
In the run for choosing the right influencer for you, I suggest you take a look at the competition. Dig a little bit into the matter and see you they allied with and what’s the response, so you know what to expect.
Speaking of competitors, there are tons of tools out there that can help you check on them and their performance. Keeping an Instagram competitors report can help you learn from their mistakes and be one step ahead of the game.
WHAT ABOUT COST? HOW MUCH DOES TOP INFLUENCER MARKETING COST?
It depends. As always, there isn’t a clear and set recipe that you can follow in order to reach your goal/s. But there are certain specifics that will influence the prince of your social media influencer marketing campaign.
First thing’s first, the number of followers. As you probably expected it to be, the audience of the influencer will directly influence the cost.
The more well known your influencer is, the pricier it will get. And that’s because awareness, authenticity, and influence take constant effort, time, and money to build. Isn’t that why you’re going for a social media influencer campaign?
You want to be able to do all that, but skip some steps and quickly reach their level of influence, right? So you will need to contribute to that, in a financial way. It’s like a boost of exposure for your brand, by combining it with somebody that already has it.
Also, there are other influencers in this influencer marketing campaign cost estimation, like social media channel and whether or not it’s a direct partnership or through an agency. So, keep that in mind.
GOALS, RESULTS AND METRICS
Before you start an influencer marketing based campaign you need to establish a strategy and some goals. Most influencer internet marketing strategies include brand awareness (increase exposure). This usually goes hand in hand with bringing in new customers and sales.
Awareness/Exposure - > New Customers -> Profit.
HOW TO MEASURE AND INFLUENCER MARKETING CAMPAIGN?
When you associate your brand with an influencer, there a few techniques that Instagram mentions, all of which can be tracked to the last click. The first and the most common one is the recommendation.
If we’re talking about a public post, you can track the engagement yourself. If it’s a story, the influencer will provide you with the performance data.
I further have to mention referral links for which you can track the number of click and conversions from each and every one of the links.
Influencers usually offer discount codes, which is another great technique. This one is easily trackable, reflected by the total number of codes used.
The awareness impact is going to be reflected by the number of new followers, from the date you started the campaign, until the end of it.
And last, but not least, we need to talk about the profit. This aspect is of course indicated by the total number of new purchases in the period of time in which the campaign was on-going.
That being said, you need to start working on your influencer marketing campaign, like yesterday! Keep in mind, this kind of marketing effort is not supposed to be a stand-alone and exclusive campaign.
Social media influencer marketing is usually an ongoing effort, that comes out as an additional gimmick to support the brand. So, keep that in mind when starting an influencer marketing campaign, otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.
Also, make sure to remember that influencer marketing doesn’t work the same for everybody. The same influencer might not get you the same results as it did for somebody else, as well as, different influencers will bring you different results.
Try out diverse combinations, different influencers, and various techniques. Measure the impact and stick to the most favorable one. And always remember: don’t get fooled by empty numbers, but instead, make the numbers count and be relevant.