Influencer Marketing-What is it & how to devise its strategy?
By Gunjan Chandok
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories, you tell” — King of Marketing Seth Godin.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for brands to get attention on the internet. This is largely because every business, big or small, has invaded the online world creating an insurmountable amount of noise.
This has made consumers extremely skeptical about brands that indulge in self-promotion. That is why the demand for new, innovative digital marketing strategies has been on the rise.
Let us take a look at the concept in greater detail.
Influencer Marketing Decoded
Influencer marketing involves collaborating with popular and relevant influencers in your niche to promote your brand and increase your revenue.
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing which focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire/pay influencers to get out the word for you.
Influencer marketing often goes hand-in-hand with two other forms of marketing:
- social-media marketing
- content marketing.
Most influencer campaigns have some sort of social-media component, whereby influencers are expected to spread the word through their personal social channels. Many influencer campaigns also carry a content element in which either you create content for the influencers, or they create the content themselves.
At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.
Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
It is basically a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people and organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field. It increases brand awareness, thereby, driving more traffic to your website.
Influencers are often real-life consumers who have in-depth knowledge about certain subjects. They are characterized by a large number of loyal and dedicated social media followers. They are perceived as experts in their niches and their recommendations are often highly regarded by their followers.
This gives them certain leverage and empowers them to motivate their followers to take desired actions.
Depending on ones’ marketing objective, one can work with influencers to
- create engaging content
- announce giveaways
- host Q & A sessions, etc.
A successful influencer marketing campaign requires solid planning and a deep understanding of the target audience and marketing objectives.
According to a recent study, in 2018, Google received 61,000 search queries for the term “influencer marketing”. The same study also revealed that influencer marketing was considered effective by 92% of the respondents. 86% of the respondents were also willing to dedicate a specific budget for their influencer marketing campaigns. This clearly indicates that influencer marketing is gaining acceptance and popularity among business owners and marketers.
Framing the influencer marketing strategy
Digital marketing pioneer, writer, speaker Ann Handley has said
“Good content always has an objective; it’s created with intent. It, therefore, carries triggers to action.”
Influencer marketing is an effective way
- to increase brand exposure
- drive website traffic
- build your audience
- ultimately drive more sales for products and services
But you can only achieve these results if you have a strong, organized, and data-driven influencer marketing strategy.
Building a successful influencer strategy is all about being goal-oriented. To do that, you’ve got to determine your goals and KPIs while also making a conscious effort to understand the influencer landscape.
Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes deliberate targeting and planning. You won’t find strategic success just by sending free things out to everyone who asks or to your existing friends and acquaintances, there is a good amount of investment of timely planning and critical thinking involved.
Without a clear destination in mind, you’ll never know which path has the least resistance, is the most cost-effective, and provides the best results.
Certain steps that need to be pondered over are listed below
1. Document Your Goals and Key Performance Indicators.
The first time brands invest in influencer marketing, it can certainly feel like a gamble — one that may or may not ever generate any ROI.
2. How to find influencers and what to pay them
Much like any strategy, research is the first step. Choose the network that one wants to focus on first. One can always expand to other networks later but if you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, the brand should already have a presence on this network or be looking to expand into it. Demographics vary on each network.
The industry you’re in also matters when you’re planning to implement an influencer marketing strategy. Beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube. The video game industry dominates on Twitch.
During the research phase, look into the type of influencers your company might be interested in.
- Are you going for celebrities with massive followings?
- Micro-influencers with less than 2000 followers?
- Perhaps something in between in the 5–10k follower range is more your preference.
Whatever you decide to focus on will determine the budget.
The compensation varies wildly, too, so be sure to look at common rates for those influencer types. Micro-influencers tend to be focused on a few topics and accept products. Some micro-influencers work independently while others may be represented by an agency or network. Whereas, larger accounts and celebrities will need compensation and might even go through a talent agency.
One needs to think about the expected ROI of your social influencer marketing campaign:
- how will you gauge the contributions of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals? One approach might be to compare your expectations for influencers to other firms — look at how you might gauge the budget for a video production firm’s work in creating an ad for you versus an influencer creating a video on an authentic video-driven platform like Hobo.Video for you.
3. Set a budget and management strategy
Now that you have some idea of what to pay influencers, you need to create your budget. Be sure to also factor in time for planning, executing and reviewing your influencer program. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-go type of strategy. It’ll involve careful monitoring and follow up.
Unlike a more automated ad strategy, influencers are human and frequently balancing multiple partnerships, so some may fall behind in their commitments to post on time or make errors in your requested tags or calls to action. You’ll need to have the time to be more hands-on with these relationships to cultivate them and refine your approach through experience about what works and what doesn’t in your niche.
If you have the time and money, consider setting up a formal ambassador program. Fujifilm utilizes its ambassadors in new product launches and in supplementing their content. With a variety of photographers and videographers at their disposal, the company is able to diversify its feed to showcase what their equipment can do.
For brands that need a wider pool of influencers, hiring an influencer marketing agency who will do the research and coordination for you is a good bet.
4. Decide on goals and message
The two most common reasons for using influencer marketing are
- to elevate brand awareness
- Increase in sales.
However, instead of setting these broad targets as your two goals, it will be more effective to kick off on your strategy by honing in on what your brand’s needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base in a younger demographic. Or you want to expand into a new user group with a new product. Or you want to skip trends and utilize influencers to talk about your brand values.
5. Review and refine your strategy
Even if your influencer marketing campaign is ongoing, you should still have pre-determined dates where you’ll measure its progress. The next part of this guide will go into how to track your results. Not all campaigns are successful but hopefully, you’ll learn with each one you create.
The digital landscape is shifting rapidly, and those not keeping up are wasting their ad budgets, losing customers, and shrinking their market share.
Luckily, influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Someone has rightly said
“The great thing about influencer marketing is that you can kill three birds with one stone — create great content, earn credibility, and gain exposure through the influencer’s network.”
As long as your influencer has a solid reputation and genuine clout, follower numbers are relatively unimportant. What really matters is that their community favourably reacts and responds to their recommendations.
If you want influencer marketing to be more influential, then have a ‘less is more’ mindset.
- Look closely at true brand enthusiasts.
- Work on cultivating a rock-solid relationship with them and leave room for them to be the genius creators they are at their core.
Then, and only then will their true talents shine through and influence their following, allowing you to embrace your audience in an authentic voice that provokes emotion, and, more importantly, action.