The verb ‘influence’ stems from the Old English or Medieval Latin ‘influentia’, meaning ‘an inflow’ or ‘to flow in’. Over the years, the meaning of the word has changed; but the wheel has come full circle with the rise of the social media influencer. Brands all over the world are using Influencer Marketing – the influence of social media celebrities – to get the love to flow in (understand eh, eh?).
Some time back we wrote a post on the kinds of freelancers that you can use as part of your brand’s online marketing strategy, and influencers top that list. It’s human tendency to take recommendations from those we look up to. Even the most self-reliant among us do it. Take millennial moms for instance. Mothers are a hard TG to sell to; because they believe they know what’s best for their child. But this Forbes article shows that 46% of millennial mothers are willing to take recommendations from other parents online. Compare this to the 36% of mothers who did the same a generation ago, and you can see the potential of influencer marketing.
But, does Influencer Marketing really work?
Marketing experts from various domains, including fashion, lifestyle, tech, beauty, F&B, education and Digital Marketing agencies recently participated in a survey taken by Spoina, an Indian influencer platform. Here are a few takeaways we found most interesting:
- Influencer Marketing is effective! More than ninety percent of those who used influencer marketing believe the channel to be useful.
- But the ROI can be hard to gauge. About 78 percent of the participants said that calculating the long term Return Of Investment of IM is hard due to lack of analytical infrastructure.
- When it works, it works great! Influencer marketing’s top advantages are creating innovative millennial oriented content about a brand (77 percent), driving engagement around a brand (87 percent), and driving traffic to brand websites or landing pages (56 percent).
- The commercials vary a lot. Most marketers spend between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 3,00,00,000 per influencer marketing program. The range of campaign ideas and the disparity of available resources make strategizing the hardest part.
- But a lot of brands don’t mind spending more. The survey emphasized on the fact that brands are willing to explore this form of marketing with a more detailed approach.
- Instagram, Youtube and Snapchat rule! Marketers overwhelmingly said that Instagram and Youtube were their most important platforms for influencer marketing.
- Blogs are also important, mind you. The next most important channel is blogs, with nearly half the respondents utilizing them.
Whoah! That’s a lot of conviction…
…which is why we are giving you the other side of the story, too. Sometimes, brands are so eager to get an influencer on board that they forget that a particular influencer may not be the best representative of their brand’s ethos. Or, that influencer marketing does not refute the need for good content.
Case in point: the Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner, which had to be finally removed from the internet because it so obviously ‘missed the mark’.
As this post from Kissmetrics reminds us, when a brand brings an influencer on board, the influencer’s network, too, comes along for the ride. This is why it’s very important to choose influencers that fit in with your brand and all that it stands for.
Most importantly – do not forget that good content and useful products still rule the roost. No amount of virtual loyalty can make someone buy your product if they just do not find it useful!
So, how does someone choose an influencer?
Do understand that the influencer posts have to fit in with your brand’s existing marketing strategy. Do not treat them like standalone assets; because they are not. Only by treating it as part of a whole will you be able to get the ROI that you expect from your influencers.
If you look at this checklist below, you will realize that choosing the right influencer is not very hard. It has to do with finding the right balance between what the influencer usually does and what the brand wants them to do.
An ideal influencer should, therefore:
- Fit in with your brand values: Influencers have a large following because of their uniqueness. Your brand, too, has its own USPs. Find someone who propounds the same values as your brand, and the collaboration will seem as natural as wine and cheese.
- Fit in with the context of the campaign: If you are doing a campaign for travelers, you would not pick someone who is a high-street fashionista. Not even if they can guarantee you a million likes (yes, a girl can dream!). Niche campaigns need standout voices; not a cacophony of noise.
- Should have a good online following: Well, this goes without saying. But the added caveat, as we mentioned above, is that this following should include a big chunk of your brand’s TG as well. Or, it’s all going to go kaput!
- Should have proven actionability: What is that you need your influencer to do? Get people to follow your blog? Ask their followers to try out your product? Direct more likes and social love towards your brand’s online handles? Make sure you choose someone who has a proven record of doing the same before you hire.
- Should have the right personality type: Klout has a huge matrix for calculating social influence but if you, like us, find this confusing don’t worry! There is a simple way of understanding the basic personality types online, and how they fit in with your brand. According to Lisa Barone, co-founder of the New York firm Outspoken Media, there are five types of social media influencers:
- Social Butterfly – They are the ones who love using all the social media platforms and have a huge network. Need more likes – they might be able to help.
- The Thought Leader – They are the ones with strong opinions, and their tweets and write-ups go viral in seconds! They make very strong brand advocates.
- The Trendsetter – Always the first to try out something new and have a reputation for experimenting. If you are looking for someone to try out your out-of-the-box products, ask them.
- The Sharer – These people report news as it happens and share important updates (giveaways, contests, product launches) with their network.
- The Regular User – They may have a medium-sized following and may not be an internet craze, but they are the best representatives of your end consumers. These are real people who love a good hour or two on social media between work, and whose network can help you connect with your TG at the grassroots level.
Ahem… don’t we compensate the influencers?
Yes, you do. And there’s no need to be shy about it. There are many ways you can pay back the influencers who help your brand win the social media battle. As long as the compensation is mutually agreed upon, you have nothing to worry about.
You can either strike up a financial agreement, which makes sense if you’re asking social influencers to send a lot of their followers your way. You can incentivize your team of influencers and brand ambassadors with freebies and discounts on your products. And of course, reciprocate their love for your brand with shout outs, retweets, and likes. After all, a
Lannister brand always pays its debts! (GoT reference? Check!).
Now that we have given you all the help you need finding influencers, maybe it’s time you got started on creating a kickass marketing strategy for your brand. And if you find yourself lost on ‘Low Inspiration’ lane, just holler and we’ll steer your back on track!
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