You are more inclined to believe something your friend says than a complete stranger. The reason being, you trust the people you know. That is essentially what influencer marketing is – tapping into that element of trust through prominent figures on social media we call influencers.
In today’s rapidly evolving world, digital is becoming the new norm and for a business to survive in this day and age it has to adapt. This means getting on the band-wagon and engaging in one of the most popular and efficient marketing trends of the 21st century – influencer marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
A combination of old-school marketing and celebrity-endorsement tactics with a mix of modern-day social media platforms, influencer marketing is a unique hybrid marketing tactic. It takes the tried and proved method of having someone in the public’s eye to promote, endorse, sell or represent a brand.
Let it not be confused for a full-scale celebrity-endorsement tactic though. An influencer does not necessarily mean that it is a well-known celebrity, rather it is someone who has a significant following on social media. Instead of thinking of it like a fan-base, think of it as a cultivated community of people who enjoy the content these influencers put out. Brands make use of this unique relationship that they have built to promote their brand recognition.
The influencer is the modern-day celebrity. Some achieve bigger fame than most movie stars. The only difference is that they are more accessible to the public and that is where the magic lies.
Who Exactly Qualifies As An Influencer?
Unlike a celebrity who achieved their fame through mainstream media like television shows, movies, the music industry or sports, influencers primarily operate on social media platforms. Also, unlike the traditional celebrity, these influencers have worked very hard at cultivating their audiences.
Where a celebrity might have a very wide and diverse audience across the globe – most of whom they never actually meet – an influencer is someone who has carved out a very distinct niche for themselves with whom they actively engage and on a regular basis. The size of the niche can vary from a few hundred to millions, it all depends on the niche they operate within. Regardless of the size of the following, they have one nonetheless and this gives them significant influence over the purchasing decisions due to their perceived knowledge on the topic and the relationships they have developed with their followers.
How Influencer Marketing Is Becoming The Next Big Thing
Over the years, social media has moved away from being painted as the ‘ugly duckling’ in the media world as opposed to traditional media. Now, it is gaining more and more popularity thanks to its ability to allow creators and marketing agencies to target very specific demographics within an industry.
The reason influencers are in big demand now is because of the fact that they have that access – a direct line to a very niche and often, very large following that advertisers and marketing agencies would love to get a hold of. It is a gold mine of opportunity. So much so that even the biggest players like PlayStation, Spotify, Sony and many more actively collaborate with influencers. If you watch YouTube videos you would have most likely come across different YouTubers calling out their sponsors with a quick vote of thanks or introducing a cool service or product that those sponsors offer.
The reason why even the biggest of brands opt for it is, the influencer marketing strategy is cost-effective, more so than your traditional media like newspaper ads, gigantic billboard and poster. It can reach millions of people instantly and can be targeted specifically. It is also effective in a broader sense as people find it far more trustworthy when a product endorsement comes from someone they know and have an established sense of community with. This special connection that influencers share with their followers translates into a more authentic perception of the brand.
Crafting Your Ideal Influencer Marketing Strategy
Set a goal
Before you venture out into the digital space looking for an influencer, consider setting up what your ultimate goal is for the marketing. Is it to build brand awareness, enter a new market or facilitate lead generation? Whatever the case each of these endeavours is unique and require their own set of steps to make sure it turns outright. For example, if you want brand awareness you need to focus on widening the reach as much as possible, so more comments, social media presence and lots of regular posts. If it were to enter a specific target market, you would need to find an influencer who has that access and can help you build a space for your entire line with them.
Put the plan together
After establishing your motive, the next move is to put a plan in place. That is to say, what kind of message you want to send, who you want to send it, finding the right influencer and outlining a budget for the whole thing. An influencer marketing campaign is not a hands-off thing, it takes time and effort. Though someone is doing it for you, you need to make sure that everything is running smoothly with constant monitoring. Develop a schedule for posts, shoutouts, product placements and giveaways.
Finding the right person at the right price
Depending on the type of brand you are and the message you want to communicate, you will first have to identify the social platform that best works for your brand image. If it is something like a restaurant you might want to post regularly on Instagram, whereas fashion and beauty brands do really well on YouTube. Based on whichever works best you will have to find an influencer whose image aligns with your brand values.
There are several ways you can find them, either through their social handles or if they have a talent agency representing them, approach based on your needs. As for what you need to pay for the services, the prices vary and can often be negotiated on a case-by-case basis but here are a few rules of thumb on how you can judge a fair price:
- Look at the competition and see what they are paying their influencers.
- Look at how much you might pay a professional studio for the same service as advertising or marketing your brand.
Again, this price will vary depending on the service and the size of the audience you want to reach.
A Few Influencer Marketing Formats To Consider
Everyone loves a giveaway
This is the most frequently seen method of influencer marketing on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. It is simple and effective. You give the audience something they want and they in-turn get more invested in your brand. This tactic works great driving growth and brand awareness especially paired with innovative and fun content of the influencer in question.
A social media takeover
Basically, you would be giving full creative liberty and access to your social media accounts to the influencer to do with as they please. They will curate the content and engage with the audience on your behalf. It will be them in the driver’s seat, building up your brand image with your very own audience.
It is the mutually-beneficial method that you have most likely come to know. The influencer promotes the product or service and when a sale happens as a result of that the one doing the promoting gets paid a fee as well. It is a win-win method where the business gets a sale and brand awareness and the influencer gets paid.
Sponsored social media and blog content
Here the influencer promotes your social media content and blog content on their social media platforms. The point being, despite having created a great post, it might get lost in the sea of brands. The influencer already has a platform with many eager followers, so it is the perfect place to feature your content.
This is where influencers promote your product out of sheer enthusiasm for the brand. They would have used your product or service at some point and loved it so much that they wanted to share it with their audience. The only difference is that you are sponsoring them and paying them a fee every time they bring it up or you make a profit as a result of their promotions.
Trends To Watch Out For
Social media demand and trends will keep changing, but some of the most constant and popular ones are YouTube videos and Instagram posts. Especially if he is creative and engaging like PewDiePie, he is one such YouTube sensation who has gathered a cult following on the social platform over the years.
A great example of a successful campaign was when PewDiePie teamed up with the makers of the horror movie ‘As Above, So Below (2014)’ where he made several posts for his 27 million-plus subscribers at the time. The film got double the promotions as the original trailer through his channel and he got to make some content to build his brand. This is the essence of a good influencer marketing partnership.
Social media trends are constantly and rapidly changing by the day and with them the influencers. Staying relevant means being updated on those trends.
Mistakes To Avoid
It is not just about finding someone with the largest audience and asking them to sell your brand to their followers. You need to make sure that their brand identity and audience base aligns with the brand image you want for your business.
Influencer marketing though it seems quite straightforward, it should be noted that not all influencers will be eager to spread just any message for a quick pay-day. They have spent years and years of their time and effort cultivating this close community of followers and they will be protective of the image they have established and the content they expose their audience to.
Finally, do not make the mistake of using just one influencer for your campaign, multiple avenues are needed for maximum reach. And you cannot just have a common core message for them to read off a script. Each influencer has a unique identity and audience and the message needs to be custom made for each of them.
Having said that, social media marketing is the future of advertising and brand marketing. So, no matter the size of your business or the industry, it is time to get on the band-wagon. To learn more about the wonders of social platforms and how to use them to your advantage, check out our article on ‘social media marketing’ !