influencer-marketing

What Is Influencer Marketing And Why It Matters In Business

Influencer marketing involves the marketing of products or services that leverages the popularity, expertise, or reputation of an individual. Influencer marketing is often associated with those who have large social media followings, but popularity should not be confused with influence. Influence has the power to change consumer perceptions or get their audience to do something different.

Influencer marketing explained

In simple terms, influencer marketing is a hybrid of old and modern marketing techniques. It harnesses the power of celebrity endorsements from the past with a modern, content-driven marketing strategy

When researching potential influencers to partner with, businesses should assess the following characteristics:

  1. Reach – usually defined as the ability to deliver a message to a large group of people. However, reach is less important in influencer marketing because influencers with small followings often possess higher credibility and a more targeted audience.
  2. Credibility – or the level of trust an influencer enjoys because of their perceived knowledge or authority in a niche.
  3. Salesmanship – influencers who possess salesmanship can convince others of their point of view because it is told with confidence and conviction.

Influencer marketing is also a less transactional and more authentic form of promotion, in that there is more collaboration between brand and influencer. Collaboration means that the goals and values of both parties need to be aligned. 

Importantly, businesses must respect the influencer and how they have built their audience. Successful collaborations result when businesses resist the temptation to change an influencer’s goals or values to suit their own purposes. 

Why is influencer marketing important?

Influencer marketing is important because conventional digital marketing is now largely ignored.

A study by Harris Interactive found that 90% of Americans ignore digital ads. 66% of consumers are also overwhelmed by the sheer volume of digital ads and use the quantity of such ads to consider whether to boycott certain brands.

By partnering with influencers, brands can insert themselves into consumer conversations and leverage influencer trust to reduce the chance of being ignored.

When businesses get consumers talking about their brand, they create genuine conversations that can never be replicated through traditional marketing strategies.

Examples of influencer marketing

To spread the word on the benefits of grass-fed beef, producer La Cense Beef collaborated with food-bloggers who had an audience of dedicated meat fanatics.

The company set up a website detailing the benefits so that influencers could spread the message about their brand in an informed and authentic fashion.

A less typical example of influencer marketing can be seen in the case of carmaker General Motors (GM). GM created an insider’s club for car fanatics who possess a deep passion and affinity for the maker.

By sharing exclusive news and offers with insider members, General Motors was able to encourage their most loyal supporters to spread the word about their brand.

Key takeaways

  • Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that utilizes those with influence in a particular industry to increase brand awareness and encourage them to take a specific course of action.
  • Influencer marketing relies on shared goals and values between the concerned parties, and not on transactional arrangements.
  • Conventional digital marketing is now largely ignored by consumers. Influencer marketing is seen as a more authentic marketing strategy.

Types Of Influencers

Choosing an Influencer for Your Campaign

After knowing the channels to locate influencers for your campaign, you need to choose one that properly fits your goals and objectives. There are a thousand influencers available in your pool, but not all will be appropriate for your campaign. There are general goals for influencer marketing to increase brand awareness, thereby increasing sales and revenue. However, each business has additional targets that they aim to achieve with influencer marketing.  Some really want to reach out to their customer base in a particular age group or expand their reach from a certain sector, so you must be able to identify your goals, to adequately help you determine your choice. Influencers can reach targeted audiences, so properly defining your goals will help you streamline your search and ensure you pick the right person for your campaign.

Below are steps you need to take in incorporating your choice with your goals and objectives.

Research

During the research phase, there are many decisions you need to make, depending on your brand strength, your audience, your budget, and your preferred means of remuneration. 

  • You need to conduct a survey about the social media platforms your current market is well-populated to give an insight into where to focus. As a beginner in influencer marketing, it is recommended to start with a channel, even if there is no clear indication as to where you should focus. For example, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle really excel on Instagram because of the opportunity to regularly use pictures to publish content. Technology, gadgets, and mobile trends largely excel on YouTube. There is always one influencer or the other doing a review or comparison of certain gadgets and what the specifications mean; if you have built a game, then twitch is the best place to get your audience as it is exclusively for gamers.
  • You should also look into the type of influencers that will suit your campaign before selecting one. If you want an awareness campaign to reach millions of people without necessarily targeting a specific audience, then mega influencers is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want some high level of awareness in a more targeted audience, then you could use macro-influencers. Perhaps, you want a smaller reach, in a largely targeted audience, you should consider using micro-influencers and nano influencers. Your budget will also be determined by the type of influencer you decide to employ for your campaign, so you should look around, do a market survey of how much each of these influencers charge, and you should know what your campaign can afford. It is, however, important to consider your product type and how much money you can generate per item on average. If you sell very cheap items, it is unadvisable to select expensive influencers to enable you to get your returns quick.
  • Ensure that the influencers on your shortlist are “legit” – they haven’t amassed fake engagements and followers. Check through their posts painstakingly to see their follower-to-engagement ratio. Someone with 10,000 followers shouldn’t struggle to get 100 engagements; if they do, it could be a red flag of poor content, fake or inactive followers. The comments shouldn’t also be stereotyped like robots. If all the comments you see on an influencer’s posts are short and identical, it could be fake or simulated. There should be a proper flow of interaction.
  • Check out the influencers’ previous campaigns, what brands they have worked with, how similar those brands are to yours, and how successful the campaign turned out to be. Also, check out their posts and be sure they can communicate about you to their audience without sounding excessively promotional. You need interactions, not a robot.

Look for an advocate

Many influencers just want to make money from campaigns, and so they don’t put genuine effort into the campaigns; they just want the campaign to end as soon as possible, so they can get money from other campaigns. This is usually dangerous to the campaign’s success, as there is usually little creativity in terms of content. This is why the influencer you choose must be ready to dedicate effort to ensure the campaign’s success, rather than just make random posts about your product or service. From previous campaigns of an influencer, you will get an insight into how creative he is with campaigns. If you can ensure that your choice influencer can advocate for your brand, you will totally win over his audience, and it will be evident in your sales and revenue.

Choose according to your business scope

If your business scope is small and not even beyond your country, maybe in just a few select states, it is advisable to use micro-influencers because of their closer interactions with people who form your target audience. Even if you feel like you can afford the celebrities, there will be little effect as those influencers have a much larger scope than your audience. If you have a brick and mortar store in Just one state in a European country, it might be out of scope to contact a celebrity as their fans are people all over the world, and many people won’t travel down to patronize you because a celebrity they like is talking about you. However, mini influencers, nano influencers, and micro-influencers can reach out more specifically to people within your scope. As word spreads locally, the number of customers will increase, and from there, you can think of expansion to other states, probably based on requests of people who engage posts.

Consider many engagements

Before committing to an influencer, especially micro-influencers and below, it is important to know how well they get their audience engaged. As previously said, micro-influencers usually engage with their audiences more, so there is evident goodwill, but this engagement should be well measured in terms of percentage. An influencer with 100,000 followers but has an average engagement rate of 10,000 likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc., is doing worse than an influencer who has 30,000 followers with an engagement rate of 7,500. So when making decisions, it is important to properly consider followers considering engagements, don’t just choose an influencer because they have a larger audience. How well influencers’ audience engages their posts is a testament to how valuable their content is, and hence how useful they can be to your campaign. Ideally, the average engagements for posts on social media should be from 3% to 5% to ensure that you are dealing with a loyal set of followers.

Select from your niche

You will see many influencers with impressive numbers and previous campaigns that look good, but be sure to select from your niche for two main reasons.

You want to be sure that they can provide useful content for your brand. In the past, their content might have been great because of the knowledge they possess about the niche of those brands. But if they don’t know much about your niche, you greatly risk a failed campaign due to poor content.

It is also possible that the influencers have gained their target audience from posting things that their followers are conversant with. The majority of that audience followed them because of that campaign. If your choice influencer brings up a strange topic, it might be difficult for them to relate, and they altogether ignore it.

Your target audience:

As a business owner, you could be selling directly to consumers (B2C marketing), or you may target other Businesses (B2B marketing). In choosing an influencer for your campaign, it is important to know the influencers that are already popular with brands. Such influencers that are popular with brands are great for B2B marketing. If you target businesses as your customer base, your influencer must be reputable. A reputable and well-known influencer can be appropriate for this kind of campaign because fellow businesses will trust them better. For individual campaigns, several influencers can be used, even relatively new ones, as long as there is an audience and the influencer can create quality content.

Type of remuneration

It is important to determine whether you want to give out cash, products, or both to your choice influencers for a successful campaign. If you render a service, you can show past jobs and services you have rendered to your influencers to critique and see how much knowledge they can garner about your brand because audiences will have a lot of questions. You definitely do not want your influencer ignoring them. You can also give out new products for them to use and have an honest opinion about it and look at the product from a customer perspective; that way, they will relate with the customers better in their posts. Commissions are also ways to get your influencers well invested in your campaign, you just have to reach a fair agreement with the influencer, and if you are using more than one influencer, you can make use of dedicated links for them so that each of them will have a collation system for leads that were gotten through them. Influencers are sometimes skeptical about using commissions as the sole form of payment, but it can be mixed with other means of remuneration. If you are paying cash only, you need to ensure that you are not promoting an entirely new product. Products already in the market but have dipped in demand can be promoted. Hence there will be fewer questions, and even fellow consumers can have the answers to the questions of others. 

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"