What was once a new and cutting-edge way for brands to reach consumers’ eyes and pockets has become a standard, modern marketing tool. Growing exponentially in the past years, influencer marketing is a tried and true strategy.
Nowadays, every company seems to be trying its hand at employing influencers.
As a means that has become more common practice than merely supplementary, how do brands and influencers manage to keep engagement fresh and innovative? This article will explore every fabric of this question, proposing three ways in which influencer marketing can innovate beyond its oversaturated landscape.
Examining the Industry
Before diving into how to best utilize influencer marketing, we should iron out some definitions. What exactly is an influencer? Or, more accurately, who is an influencer?
According to an Elon University study, a social influencer:
- Is a third-party endorser with the ability to affect audience attitudes
- Gains popularity through social networking and online media
- Acquires a following by making their personal narrative accessible to audiences
- Is viewed as more “organic” than high-profile actors or celebrities
Quality Over Quantity
65% of influencers expect some form of compensation for their services, so influencer marketing undoubtedly comes with a cost. Thus, before investing allocated money in an influencer, it is crucial to select the influencer(s) that aligns with your brand and intention.
Establish Your Goal
Not every business has the same objective. The top three goals that influencers are most frequently used for are:
- Brand advocacy
- Building awareness of a product, brand, or service
- Appealing to new target audiences
Depending on your company’s specific goal, particular influencers may be more suitable to achieve the desired outcome, especially once you have established a budget.
Finding Your Influencer
Where can you begin the search for your influencer?
- Agencies – If there was any doubt about the role of influencers, they have been dismantled by the existence of influencer talent agencies. Unable to connect with an influencer? Use an agency to make contact.
- Blogs – Similar to celebrity tabloids, keeping track of names who frequent blogs relevant to your niche may give you a good starting ground.
- Influencer Software – Solely relying on the word of an individual may not be enough. Install specific software to view social media trends and verify potential ROI.
- Referrals – There is no better time to make use of your network than now. Discover candidates through connections.
- Social Media – When completing background research, you will surely use social media. Straight from the source, you may use it to explore influencers and their work directly.
Here are a few tips to take into consideration before committing to particular individuals:
- Enlist a handful of long-term, highly-targeted influencers who have impeccable and consistent engagement.
- Ensure their audience aligns with your desired demographic by looking for overlap with their followers’ geographical distribution, age range, gender, tax brackets, and language.
- Influencers should only post about one or two brands on their account.
- Evaluate their relatability, knowledge, helpfulness, confidence, and articulation.
- Utilize a third-party tool to discover the influencer’s reach.
Micro-influencers with Big Results
Contrary to what might be a business’s first instinct, it isn’t necessarily the best move to immediately seek out the most prominent celebrity. Instead of relinquishing a hefty chunk of your marketing campaign funds to a macro-influencer, consider the following statistics about micro-influencers:
- Micro-influencers charge $1,000 at most per sponsored post.
- A HelloSociety study found that micro-influencers generate 60% greater engagement than other campaigns.
- Micro-influencer content is 6.7 times more effective at engaging than macro-influencers.
But, who exactly is considered a micro-influencer? Any influencer with 3 to 100,000 followers may be categorized as a micro-influencer. Beyond this sweet spot, engagement begins to decline as follower count increases correlatively.
Although their audience size may be smaller, their relationship with their fan base is stronger, which remains true of the average engagement of nano-influencers (<3,000 followers) as well. Resultantly, micro- and nano-influencers’ followers are more likely to place confidence in and accept what comes across as a recommendation from a confidante rather than a celebrity endorsement.
Real Thoughts, Not Bots
Authenticity is in.
Read that again. Got it? Good. Because that one word should be one of the primary focuses of any influencer campaign in 2020.
The draw of influencers stems from the fact that they are people their fan base can relate to and trust. Thus, avoid relying solely on follower counts and regurgitated statistics with no correlation to your intention.
The Elon University study (aforementioned) identifies the sense of reliance behind Social Influencer Theory:
Influencers give off a sense of trust as a third-party sponsor for a product because of their consumer peer status…Influencers who maintain this sense of identity to their communities are looked at as relatable and credible, allowing them to become important messengers for consumers looking for recommendations on products.
By selecting influencers that genuinely believe in and love the brand they advocate, consumers will be more effectively compelled to make a purchase. According to surveys, 73% of influencers will also dedicate more effort into promoting a product if they feel passionate about it.
With intimate details provided by the influencer, consumers may feel a reliable source has validated their purchase. 8 out of 10 consumers have actually bought a product after seeing it recommended by an influencer.
In addition to endorsements, referral marketing has become a lucrative method of increasing sales and building trust among consumers. According to a study by Nielsen, it outperformed every other kind of marketing strategy across all demographics. Take a look at the numbers yourself.
Which respondents trust referrals?
- 80% of Boomers
- 83% of Generation X
- 85% of Millennials
- 83% of Generation Z
By implementing a referral program with a hired advocate, there is potential to create a self-sustaining positive feedback loop, meaning that those who accept the influencer’s referral have a higher probability of going on to refer it to their connections.
With active effort made to build positive customer experience, 83% of consumers are willing to refer business to others. Additionally, they are 16 times more likely to share if there’s a call-to-action placed on the designated post-purchase page.
Create An Experience Consumers Want to Invest In
The days of static advertisements are long gone. Consumers need to be sold an experience to resonate. This requires a significant amount of thinking outside of the box. So, simply posting is no longer sufficient. Allow followers to be a part of the experience and ensure that the influencer’s lifestyle matches the product’s motto.
How do you craft experiences as opposed to just promoting features? Focus on cohesion and encouraging exchanges.
After selecting influencers, be sure to structure events around the influencer’s lifestyle. With a successful match, your business will be promoted organically to followers. Develop a cohesive campaign by:
- Maintaining the same language across each medium.
- Commissioning a long-term partnership with regularly scheduled series rather than singular and sporadic posts.
- Choosing influencers that post weekly or several times a week consistently.
If there is one takeaway from cultivating interactions among followers and influencers, it is that storytelling remains essential to marketing in every form. Consumers can tell when advertisements have been excessively manufactured and artificial, so give your influencer the artistic license to produce content that matches their aesthetic.
The beauty of social media is in its ability to reel in a wider range of eyes with minimal to nonexistent physical contact. By encouraging people to participate in something that can also be shared digitally and via word-of-mouth, you open the gates and the potential to reach a broader audience.
Influencers that consciously create a dialogue with their audience drives high rates of engagement. Allowing for direct communication with a few loyal consumers and externally engaging with followers about their partnership helps show consumers that their purchases are valued, further galvanizing brand loyalty.
Be Indirectly Direct
No one wants to be inundated by blatant advertisements. The entire appeal of influencers is their authenticity. These are some tactics to minimize artifice:
- Strategically place the product in photos, so they aren’t at the forefront. Tag the company, so that it remains visible but not overtly.
- Make the caption something related to the photo and not necessarily the product. This subtly hides the upfront ad-quality yet still successfully makes the consumer curious about the product.
- Use stories for more direct promotion. Influencers can discuss the product, use the swipe-up feature on Instagram, or hashtags (you want the least disruption possible). This will keep the influencer’s page engaging while encouraging followers to remain curious and active.
- Be candid with ad disclosure. Although the goal is discretion, there is a fine line between that and duplicity.
Transparency and Accountability
Market research conducted by Label Insight discovered that 94% of the 2,000 individuals surveyed would be more inclined to be loyal to a brand if it was fully committed to transparency. With an increasingly skeptical audience, the effort to be transparent with consumers can differentiate your business from spam to potential sales.
Remember to Refresh
Amidst a society that constantly craves new content, businesses must continually search for novelty takes and twists to appeal to consumers.
It appears that influencer marketing is not only here to stay, but ready to evolve yet again.
Keep your business aligned with current social trends or risk falling behind the competition. So, reduce your marketing team’s workload by investing in an influencer who successfully caters to their fan base.
With intelligent research, influencer marketing has the potential to revolutionize your outcomes overnight. It’s not by chance that it’s been so pervasive, and it’s not by chance that companies are going to shift their focus from likes and follower counts to fan engagement and authentic content.
Extole. 15 Referral Statistics You Need to Know. https://www.extole.com/blog/15-referral-marketing-statistics-you-need-to-know/
Medium. Consistency is Key in Influencer Marketing, Pick Your Influencers Accordingly. https://medium.com/@sponsokit/consistency-is-key-in-influencer-marketing-pick-your-influencers-accordingly-96ed050a6e07
The Drum. Why Marketers Need to Get More Creative with Influencer Marketing. https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2019/03/12/why-marketers-need-get-more-creative-with-influencer-marketing