If you’ve been reluctant to go beyond dabbling in the influencer marketing game thinking it’s just a fad, think again. Influencer marketing campaigns have been around for several years now, and their popularity only continues to grow.
This increased focus is in reaction to data that traditional ad campaigns simply aren’t as successful as they once were. 30 percent of internet users predicted to be using ad blockers by the end of 2019. Things haven’t changed much since a 2015 Nielson study revealed the most trusted sources of advertising to be people you know. Branded websites, consumer opinions posted online and editorial content ranked heavily with ads sadly near the bottom of the list.
The question successful enterprises are asking themselves is no longer “Should we utilize influencer marketing?” But “How much of our resources will we dedicate to it?”
Out of 158 brands surveyed by the ANA, 75 percent utilize influencer marketing, with nearly half of those brands planning to increase funding the following year. Another study by Linqia showed that a majority of marketers plan to spend $25,000 to $100,000 on influencer marketing in 2019.
Still hesitant? Consider these four reasons to adjust your influencer marketing approach:
Consumer purchasing habits are evolving.
Generation Z and millennials have changed the game. They skeptical consumers seeking social proof before buying – and not from celebrities endorsing products. Sprout Social found that 71% of people refer to their social networks for direction before purchasing.
Modern consumers prefer relationships with brands that offer an authentic voice, and trust is an essential precursor to purchase.
Consumers are now more likely to respond to the endorsement of a person they watch and follow daily than to an ad’s claims. Peer recommendations typically carry more weight than company-run marketing channels.
To be successful in this new landscape, we have to silence our inner resistance to change and adapt our strategies, as influencer marketing provides a prime opportunity to reach target audiences across different media platforms.
The biggest names aren’t necessarily the strongest influencers.
Businesses that are new to this style of marketing often wrongly assume that influencers with more followers will bring more success, and that’s not always true. Data analysis is revealing that micro-influencers (those with typically less than 10,000 followers) and mid-level influencers often generate more engagement than celebrities, who don’t interact as much with their followers and can seem less approachable.
A Markerly study of Instagram engagement showed that numbers of followers and numbers of likes and comments from followers are inversely correlated after about 1,000 followers. Users with less than 1,000 followers produced likes 8% of the time, whereas users with 1-10 million followers achieved likes merely 1.7% of the time.
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Finding the right people to represent and propel your brand must go beyond simple numbers of followers and likes to more careful vetting processes to determine actual audience engagement levels. In addition to notoriety, companies should consider a potential influencer’s expertise, demographics, engagement and sincerity of connection to the product/brand. As noted above, the skeptical consumer will quickly see through artificiality, and securing genuine supporters of your brand will develop into stronger, longer-lasting relationships.
When it comes to how many influencers to use, quality trumps quantity.
Less can actually be more when selecting influencers. A handful of carefully selected influencers can bring you more success than a dozen put together, and with the increasing power of micro-influencers, this strategy can help ease budget strains too. In the ANA survey mentioned above, approximately 58 percent of respondents reported working with less than 25 influencers.
Smaller-scale influencers are perceived by their followers as more normal and relatable, like close friends and family. You want to select for those who create unique content and are excellent storytellers, especially through video and livestreaming which can produce a more authentic feel. Ad agency Hill Holliday conducted a study showing that customers more likely to buy from a brand with a good story and more likely to pay a higher price per item.
The search for a quality selection in a sea of influencers can seem overwhelming, as they range from bloggers and journalists to industry experts and influential customers. However, by looking at existing brand supporters and using engagement metrics and social analytics to assess influencers’ previous posts, you can evaluate the extent of different individuals’ reach.
ROI increases with strategic plans, partnership demands and effectiveness measures.
A strong influencer marketing campaign requires careful planning and maintenance to ensure success. As with other marketing methods, value must be placed on education efforts to understand best-practices.
Clear campaign goals and influencer expectations must be set to protect and boost brand reputation, including content delivery requirements, revisions and approval processes. As mentioned above, thoughtful influencer selection is crucial to creating true brand ambassadors that build consumer confidence.
Many businesses aren’t sure how to measure the success of this kind of campaign. It’s possible – and necessary – by establishing KPIs, using engagement metrics, analyzing data and revisiting goals. If you’re thorough and persistent, you’ll likely see the tangible rewards of your efforts. An Influencer Marketing Hub 2017 study showed that businesses are earning $7.65 on average for every $1 spent.
In a market saturated with loud opinions at every turn and the use of fake followers to inflate social media status, it’s no wonder consumer trust is so fragile. Buyers demand sincerity and engagement, and you will earn their trust not only by creating partnerships with powerful influencers but also if you clearly and responsibly disclose those relationships when promoting or endorsing products on social media. This transparency and support will create customer loyalty and strengthen your brand’s image.
From real-time product unboxing to engaging Q&As, effective influencer marketing campaigns in action – as part of a broader digital marketing plan – can give your business an active voice in the long-sought-after buyer’s inner circle.