We’ve seen a significant number of digital professionals exploring influencer marketing during the past years, as more brands enjoy its short and long term benefits.
Influencer marketing is an extension to the original concept of word-of-mouth marketing, focusing on a social context and performed in a more professional way.
Its popularity is attributed to the rise of social media and the creation of a new generation of influencers who may even overshadow celebrities nowadays, due to their increasing online fame and the authority they have built.
Brands gradually realised that it may be more effective to collaborate with this new generation of influencers as they certainly know how to grab the power of social media and use their credibility to affect their followers’ views (and even their purchasing decisions).
Defining influencer marketing
Influencer marketing can be defined as a process of identifying and activating individuals who have an influence over a specific target audience or medium, in order to be part of a brand’s campaign towards increased reach, sales, or engagement.
It is a form of relationship building which may be very helpful for brands that seek to expand their audience and turn them into loyal customers through trust and authenticity.
Focusing on individuals
The rise of influencer marketing has helped brands understand that there needs to be a shift of focus.
As people trust influencers more than any brand for the promotion of a product, direct marketing is not as effective anymore as it was in the past, which creates the need for the assessment of a branded content strategy.
And it gets even more challenging when trying to target the younger generation, as millennials are more demanding for the advertised content they get exposed to.
In fact, they don’t even get convinced from the traditionally popular celebrities, as 70% of them prefer non-celebrity influencers for product endorsements. This means that a brand starting with influencer marketing needs to understand its audience, in order to enjoy the benefits of an effective campaign with an influencer.
Here’s an example of a travel influencer who also works with the brand @zipkick
How do brands benefit from influencer marketing?
There are many reasons a brand should consider the idea of influencer marketing as part of its marketing strategy, with the benefits depending on the set goals:
- Brand awareness
- Building trust
- Client acquisition
- Sales leads
- Accesss to more content
Brand awareness is the main reason many brands focus on influencer marketing, as it is an effective way to reach a wider audience and use an influencer’s (extensive) social reach to promote a product, without being directly involved in its promotion.
People value influencers for their authenticity, as their endorsement matters to them and this helps a brand increase its human element on the wider marketing strategy. It’s the authenticity that allows them to build trust with the newly discovered audience, all due to the help of the right influencer.
What’s more, a social influencer is usually asked to create new content for the collaboration with a brand, which means that the brand gets access to additional (branded) content of high quality. After all, new content is always welcome.
Yes, influencer marketing may lead to an extended (and relevant) reach, but then, it’s up to the brand to turn the new audience into customers by offering the right incentives to increase its client acquisition rate. And that’s when the challenges in influencer marketing start.
What’s the biggest challenge with influencer marketing?
There are many challenges related to influencer marketing that a brand needs to face in order to create a successful campaign.
According to eMarketer, the most popular ones are finding the right influencers, picking the best engagement tactic and measuring the performance of an influencer marketing campaign.
In fact, the measurement of an influncer’s campaign has been a widely discussed topic among marketers during the past year, as we are not at a point yet where we can all agree on the best ways to analyse the success of a campaign. (After all, how can we easily measure social influence?)
Up to now, the most popular metrics are:
- Brand sentiment
- Conversion rates (and/or sales)
- Time spent (for example watching the video)
These depend on the goal each brand sets for its campaign and they reflect its ROI and whether each campaign can be considered successful.
Examples of influencer marketing
Guess has collaborated with fashion bloggers to showcase its products, in order to create new content, boost its brand awareness, but also to encourage users to post their own content with the use of the hashtag #loveguess.
There is a difference between a brand talking about its products and an influencer promoting a brand’s products and that’s why Guess decided to promote its hashtag (and the encouragement for the creation of user-generated content) through a third person to increase the chances to have its message heard.
Netflix has joined the game of influencer marketing by recruiting “Grammasters”, or else Instagram users who happen to love photography and travelling, with the selected ones turning their interests into a profession, as they will be paid around $4000.
ASOS has created a special section on its site named “ASOS Insiders” and it features popular fashion influencers and models who promote the brand’s products, both at the site, but also through their social accounts.
This way influencers feel part of a team, while they appreciate the fact that their opinion is valued so much, both by the brand, but also by their followers.
All Insiders has a unique page with all their looks and they also use their Instagram accounts as another way to promote the products and the brand, which means that ASOS maximises the chances to increase its exposure and its sales.
As everyday users keep turning into the new online celebrities, influencer marketing is not expected to disappear and brands are becoming aware of this.
Marketers are already planning to increase their budgets this year for influencer marketing, since it is considered the most cost-effective method for client acquisition (along with email), with an impressive return of investment of 650%, or else, a profit of $6.50 for every dollar spent.
If you’d like to read more about influencer marketing and how to create a successful campaign, here are 5 tips for an effective influencer marketing campaign, as suggested by Mike O’Brien.
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