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Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing
We are hearing the term “influencer” very often lately and it is making its way through the web of digital marketing rapidly. The real challenge is to define and find the right influencer for your brand. The image of an influencer depends on the brand or campaign.

What is an Influencer?

An influencer can be defined as an individual who is well-known for their expertise and is famous with special recognition among a certain group of people in a specific area or profession. Influencers are followed by hundreds and thousands of admirers.

Traditionally, most common influencers include politicians, movie stars, famous authors etc. But today’s influencers also include bloggers, social media experts, YouTube stars, forums etc. Sometimes, these non-traditional influencers are more effective than famous celebrities. According to Upfluence, there are four categories of influencers:
  • Celebrity - These are the individuals who are traditional movie stars or athletes who are recognizable around the world.
  • Top 5% - These are high ranking individuals whose website receive about 250k monthly visitors.
  • Top 10% - Influencers who have 250,000-25,000 recurring visitors per month.
  • Power Middle - An influencer with average influence belong to power middle. They have 2,500-25,000 recurring monthly victors. Power Middle has more influence though they have limited reach because their audience is highly targeted and intensely engaged.

An influencer can be a person, a group or a place. If a team of soccer game recommends an energy drink, the whole team will be considered as an influencer. Influencers can be at different levels. Some influencers have more reach and some have more influence on the audience. For example, celebrities are most commonly used as influencers because of their higher visibility in the society and more reach but friends and family have more influence on consumers compared to celebrities.

What is influencer marketing?

“True influence drives action, not just awareness” – Jay Baer The social media platforms are expanding and evolving unremittingly. The marketing industry has had to change and adapt the new landscape to continue to reach consumers. The growth of social media users is substantial over the years and more than two billion internet users are using social networks. This trend is going to increase considering the mobile and mobile network usage. According to recent statistics, not only the audience size is becoming larger but also the time spent on social media is also increasing. Weighing up the role of social media in consumers’ buying decision, marketers are exploring new ways to reach consumers on these platforms. One of the unique ways that is emerged out of necessity for better reach of the audience is influencer marketing. Over 92% of consumers believe reviews and feedback from family and friends over all kinds of advertising. Social media influencers are trusted as much as a friend by their followers. Marketers combine an influencer’s trust relationship with their followers’ size on social media to spread the word about their brand. In influencer marketing, you push your brand’s core message to the large set of target audience through an “influencer” in your field of business. The marketing activities are aligned around the influencers who can influence the potential buyers or customers. Instead of marketing directly to consumers, influencers get the word out for you and their popularity in the digital society leverages your efforts to reach a bigger audience. Influencer marketing intertwines with social media and content marketing. Influencers have hundreds and thousands of social media followers. Your brand can be exposed to them on their social media channels. It is a virtual word of mouth marketing, to be precise. The key for marketing through influencers is segmentation of consumer attention. The real challenge for marketers in influencer marketing is to identify ‘right influencer’ for their brand and the ‘right spot’ in purchase cycle to place them in.

Key components of influencer marketing strategy:
  • Define your business goals
  • Discover the right influencers for your brand or business
  • Create campaign aligning your goals with your influencer’s image and reach
  • Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure performance of campaign
  • Repeat

Why influencer marketing?

The increased popularity of influencer marketing is attributed to the desired results it is achieving.

Customers rely more on family and friend’s recommendations than on direct advertisement of a brand. It is quite natural if we look at it from personal context. If a sales guy shows up at your doorstep and start explaining the benefits of a product, he cannot convince you to buy it, but if your neighbor recommends the same product it will influence your buying decision. An influencer connects your brand with target customers. Influencer marketing provides greater reach because an influencer not only brings their audience but also their audience’s network as well. This will bring more traffic to your site and more awareness about your brand on social media. This generation consumers are keeping visual ads out of their sight and avoiding commercials. According to a report by Digital News Report, 47% online customers use ad block technology. Today’s customers are self-equipped to research about a brand or product on their own and majority of the time they want to hear about the product from the trustworthy person before they buy it. This is where influencer marketing is becoming more effective when traditional outbound marketing is going through the downfall. Here are some key statistics about social media and influencer marketing put together by Eric Burgess for 2016:
  • Customers using ad block technology - 47%
  • People trust recommendations from individuals over brands - 92%
  • Amount of web traffic driven by Facebook alone - 25%
  • Pace of Instagram’s annual user growth - 50%
  • Snapchat’s Annual user growth - 56%
  • Consumers using social media to make purchase decisions - 74%
  • Marketers judged influencer marketing to be effective - 81%
  • Marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing - 51%
  • Retention of customers acquired through word-of-mouth advertising - 37%
  • Marketers increasing budget for influencer marketing - 59%
According to a research study published by Kirkpatrick, influencer marketing can initiate 11 times more return on investment (in terms of reach, engagement, and sales) than other forms of advertising annually. Marketers use influencers in a variety of ways such as content promotion, product launch, content creation etc.

How to define an “influencer” for your brand?

Influencer marketing can be a wasted investment if you do not choose the right one. It is important to look beyond just unique visitors or twitter followers while you attempt to find an influencer to work with. Few key points to consider to select an influencer:

Relevance

Influencers vary for every brand because they are contextual fit. Relevancy is very important characteristic when targeting the right influencer for your brand. It is crucial to consider your brand personality, whether it is reverent or provocative, matches the image of an influencer. The audience of a female popular singer cannot relate her talking about a gaming app. Just because a blogger posts his experiences while taking world tour doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good match for your Tours & Travels business. Place the context in the center and align your choices of influencers around it to choose the right one for your business or brand.

Engagement

Engagement indicates how actively the audience interacts with blogger’s posts or content. Their engagement can be assessed based on their response, comments, and shares. A good measure to look at is the percentage of returning audience vs new visitors.

Reach

Reach of an influencer is another valid metric to consider. Reach should be measured in terms of unique visitors rather than looking at the whole fan base of an influencer. Another smart consideration is to look at what other social platforms your target audience visit. A moderate size of followers of a relevant influencer on Pinterest or Instagram might be more valuable than a large crowd of admirers of a celebrity on Facebook.

Actionability

This is an influencer’s competence to cause action by their audience in the purchase cycle. Influencers who are contextually aligned with your brand or products and who have good reach of audience naturally initiates action.

Frequency

Amount of traffic to a website and the rate of return visitors directly correlates with how often blogger posts. Readers are more likely to return and share when a blogger consistently posts high-quality content on regular basis.

Authenticity

A personal story from an influencer that talks about the genuine use of a service or product gain more thrust than a direct product review. Compelling and engaging stories with personal touch get more shares and comments than promotions and deals or product reviews. A fashion brand could engage a model to talk about tips on appropriate attire for different occasions and colors and styles to choose for different professionals according to their physique. This type of content is highly engaging to readers and authentic for the influencer. It connects the fashion brand to the large audience in most loyal and personalized way. Decide the type of personality of an influencer like you need an informer or an authority to promote your product or campaign. Pick influencers from one or two genres which are relevant to your business. Select your niche to reach for audience and pick topics that your influencer can talk about on their social media platforms. And finally, decide the type of reach that works for you,
  • Is it website traffic you want to increase or social media followers?
  • Does your influencer blog?
  • Need your influencer to be part of your visually driven campaign?
  • Is it tweets you are after?
Narrow down your options and the followers for better reach.

Influencer’s Outreach

Once you are done with identifying key individuals, it is time to make them familiar with you. To successfully contact and work with influencers you need to build a relationship with them, which is mutually beneficial. A good influencer relationship grows your reach naturally while providing them with something in return for their efforts. Few key steps to follow to build a seamless campaign with an influencer:

Connect

Once you choose your influencer, start following them. Enter their vicinity by following them on the social media channels. Let them know your presence by liking their posts, leaving a comment etc. Be observant about their response to different followers and their comments, to get familiarize about your influencers personality.

Contact

Once you are confident about the right time to contact your influencer, prepare a personalized message. Use your knowledge about them and their posts. Give them a reason why you chose them to be your influencer. Find out the best way to contact them (via email or phone call etc).

Be specific & professional

Be specific about your business goals clearly and honestly. Give them a brief about your vision, goals, what you are expecting from them and how the collaboration is mutually beneficial. Once the influencer agrees to work with you, solidify the agreement with how they want to be compensated.

Create valuable content

Do not give your influencer a poor impression with weak content. This may be stating the obvious, but if your content is not relevant and if it does not add any value to the reader it might get rejected. Influencers do not want to share poor content, which will damage their reputation among the audience.

Segregate your influencers (if working with multiple influencers)

The same formula cannot be applied everywhere. The same approach will not win every influencer. Different ways motivate different people. Segment your influencers based on their industry expertise, reach, their interests etc. Combining these metrics with demographic data like gender, age, the location will enhance your results.

Incentives

Incentivize your influencer with your products or services for free. Free trials make them better understand your product. Face-to-face interaction with them builds more trust and strengthen your relationship. Find professional ways to meet them in person such as product launch invitations. Occasional gifts with some thought put into them also a good way to make your bonding strong.

Do not burn the bridges

Keep in touch with them even after your campaign term is done. Continue to nurture your relationship with them to show your values. This will enable them to realize how you value your customers and this may earn you an ambassador who may continue to talk about your brand. Where to look for influencers:
  • Buzzsumo
  • Little Bird
  • EmailHunter.co
  • ContentMarketer.io
  • RightRelevance
  • Social media
  • Research Hashtags
  • Google alerts
  • Social mention
  • Followerwonk
  • Klear

Influencer Marketing Trends in 2017

Influencer marketing has earned the undivided attention of marketers with its magnificence in delivering incredible results, from exceptional ROIs to exclusive audience engagement in 2016. Influencer recommendations have become the driving force for purchasing decisions for the majority of customers lately. Two major factors contributing to his trend are:
  • Influencers are consumers too and honest opinion from friends and family wins over any effective advertisement.
  • The rise in ad blocking
Advertisers/marketers realized the significant impact of these factors and quickly adopted the influencer marketing to reach an audience on a broad scale, especially on social media platforms. According to a report (November 2016) from Sprout Social, 74% consumers have followed influencer’s recommendations for their purchasing decision. Here are few trends that are predicted for 2017:

Impact of the power middle

The impact of micro and macro influencers is going to be on the rise, considering their effect in 2016. Limited audience range of Power Middle influencers has the advantage of connecting with them more closely than celebrities, making them more effective than celebrities.

Development of differential measurement of metrics

The primary criteria to select an influencer is no longer their reach or followers. If they cannot engage audience significantly, influencer marketing can fail to reach a business’s goals. Measuring cross-channel metrics will be on the rise to find the effectiveness of an influencer marketing campaign. Measurement of influence is going to be a diversified concept to be adopted. Time has come to develop proprietary formulas to measure an influencer’s score and the potential of their influence on each channel. This will help to create campaigns with more precise goals.

Changing landscape of content marketing

Live content seems to be gaining more engagement compared to other traditional ways of content marketing. Customers prefer to watch a 30 seconds video over reading a 300 words article or blog about a product. Live videos of influencers presenting their genuine experience with a product or service will be more effective among social media users.

Optimization of marketing tools

The need of the hour is to measure the metrics of influencer marketing campaign. New tools will be devised to measure the full potential of an influencer campaign. Multifaceted tools with platforms for influencer discovery, audience engagement specifications, cross-channel influence measurement etc will emerge for more focused campaigns. Influencer marketing is going to be more data-driven and transparent with these novel tools.