By Gordon Glenister, author of Influencer Marketing Strategy and host of the Influence podcast
Influencer marketing is one of the darlings of post Pandemic advertising giving the huge rise in online engagement. The global industry is expected to top $15bn this year from just $1.6bn in 2016. So why has influencer marketing been so successful?
Evidence suggests that consumers are rejecting some forms of traditional advertising in favour of recommendations from friends, family and other social proof. This is particularly relevant among Gen Z and Millennials. When done well, influencer marketing can generate 11x more ROI than other forms of media. Influencer marketing helps build authenticity and brand trust. A higher percentage of consumers are now using adblocking software a sign that interruptive advertising is alienating them. Influencers are natural story tellers and often able to articulate the brand message in an engaging enthusiastic way which is seen as relatable to audiences. When running campaigns, if the brands website URL is being promoted this will help boost SEO and relevant traffic.
Influencer marketing is ideal for start-ups that don’t always have large marketing budgets. A gifting campaign for example to 50 influencers could create a measurable response. One should always be reminded however that a gifting strategy does not guarantee results. You are not paying the influencer after all for their time and audience value. One of the other benefits of influencer marketing is that content can often remain evergreen particularly on blogs and YouTube, giving a reoccurring return for the brand.
What can brands do to implement an influencer marketing strategy?
Recruit influencers that align with the brand and have a similar target audience through their follower base. Influencer marketing discovery platforms allow you to interrogate profiles giving details about gender, age, geolocation, income levels, education background, interest levels and quality of follower base (i.e., not fake or a robot). In addition to the follower base, the platforms will allow you to view engagement rates and follower growth, all of which are important.
The types of mechanic a brand can use depends on the industry and of course where that audience is. Instagram and YouTube remain the key focus platforms for influencer marketing. Twitter and LinkedIn for B2B influencer marketing. The most important consideration like with all marketing strategies is to have proper measurable goals. These would include:
1. Growing overall reach and brand awareness – maybe using a large follower-based influencer
2. Diving sales to websites, app downloads, conference sign ups, restaurant bookings etc through trackable links
3. Increasing social interactions likes, comments, shares, views
4. Gaining insights into brand sentiment and other feedback
1. Posts and stories on Instagram
Many brand collaborations work in this way. A good way to get a great campaign dynamic is to have a range of influencer audiences dependent on their follower size. A typical campaign may involve 20 influencers made up of a mix. Brands should make sure that they allow enough budget to run the campaigns and involve the influencers as part of the strategy not just merely as existing campaign amplifiers. The posts can be either through photos or videos. Within these posts there maybe competitions, discounted offers, Instagram live Q&As, unboxing videos to showcase new products and loads more. Brands can create their own campaign hashtags to able to track engagement.
2. Panel discussions at events either in person or online
Brands can invite influencers to support an industry issue that helps convey bring wider consumer awareness. For example, “Body Positive, Diversity matters etc. Influencers can also be involved in new store openings, personal appearances and so much more.
3. Brand research
Brands can use influencer strategies to gain valued insight on new brand/product extensions. An example of this happened when influencer agency MG Empower working with brand Amyris enlisted several influencers to an immersive 3-day process of innovation, collaboration, and a true commitment to creating a brand created for consumers, with consumers, and on social. Influencers connected with audiences to get real-time feedback and insights on their relationship with sugar while the process was going on. The innovative digital campaign including the use of interactive media as live videos and Q&A stories offered audiences an experience that they wanted to be part of. The high engagement rates and impressive number of audience insights and learnings from influencer posts indicate that this innovative approach to influencer marketing maximises the potential of generating increased interest and greater levels of brand engagement, loyalty and equity.
4. Co-creation of new brands
Influencers are becoming “brands” in their own right and accepting licensing opportunities and joint ventures. Brands are realising that creating an influencer product line could be a real money spinner giving that they have a readymade audience with the influencer. Danielle Bernstein launched her swimwear range with Onia and sold $1.8m in just 12 hours @Shopweworewhat
5. Ambassador programmes
The best results in influencer marketing campaigns often come when the brand is working on a more long-term programme which is why you are seeing influencers displaying their ambassador status on the Instagram bios. There are two types of programmes, one that could be a top VIP programme for influencers, another that could be for consumer brand fans who are super engaging but have smaller audiences. These can develop into wider online communities as well giving real value to brands. Ambassadors could be given access to company HQs/factories behind the scenes content opportunities. If a brand sponsors a music festival for example, inviting ambassadors along to that would be a great way of engaging consumers through influencer content.
6. How to videos
Influencers know how to create content, and most are actually referred to as “content creators”. Brands can use influencers to produce a series of how to videos or sponsor existing content. This has worked very well with food influencers creating recipes, drink influencers creating cocktails, gamers creating tips and tricks to play certain games, and beauty influencers creating make up tutorials.