Influencer Marketing: What’s in it for me?
Influencer marketing is the new term for brands that want to grow their businesses by reaching out to their target audience via opinion leaders who have significant followings on their social media platforms. These opinion leaders, also known as influencers, were naturally chosen as they have a huge online following. They are seen to be a lot more personal than celebrities but commanding the same amount of persuasive power.
Benefits of influencer marketing:
Influencers are an amalgamation of PR, content creation, creativity as well as having celebrity status at the same time. Most of the time, they come up with creative and innovative ways to reach out to their audiences and are thus more effective in communicating to the targeted audience.
A good example of this is the Canon Singapore influencer campaign where photography influencers have made a huge contribution to the sale of a camera by reaching out to an audience who no longer consume traditional media. Both Amateur and pro photographers no longer look at glossy magazines but through online platforms such as Instagram and flickr comparing results and capabilities between different cameras and also actively looking for reviews and opinions of the cameras and its accessories creating a much bigger interest resulting in a much larger amount of sales for Canon compared to if they have gone with traditional media.
Initially, the amount of success of such campaigns were measured by the number of views from each social media platform or channel. However, this outdated approach often used by radio and television platforms do not leverage on the two-way communication strengths that an online medium, such as YouTube, Instagram or Facebook, provides. Thus, many marketers are now trying different metrics to measure the different level of success a campaign has earned. With audiences increasingly becoming willing consumers of such forms of advertisements in these online platforms, what can possibly go wrong with this form of marketing strategy?
What went wrong?
Yet, one weakness to influencer marketing would be the lack of evaluation to measure the success of the marketing platform. There is an absence of measuring the impact within the framework or using an actual method of comparing the amount of sales due to the power of the influencer. The only metric available either happen to be the number of views or the level of engagement with their followers – and this has been the main selling point of the influencers with the amount of sales increasing drastically when influencer marketing was considered relatively new.
Unfortunately, this led to influencers demanding even more in their requests for payments and special requests. Payment has ballooned to near celebrity-like endorsements for influencers and this is coupled with other factors such as the autonomy these influencers have over their own content, which may be left unregulated at times or the controversial nature of this industry that may cause conflict among fellow bloggers or influencers, which is something brands would want to avoid.
However, this does not mean that influencer marketing should not be implemented as this is an effective way to reach out to the current younger generation who are socially active in these platforms. This is especially pertinent for certain niche groups that fall outside of the main demographic of mass marketing.
In fact, there are articles that explain why influencers as very essential:
1. 74% of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions (source)
2. 8 in 10 of the most influential people for teen audiences are YouTube stars which grows each year pushing traditional artists down the list (source)
3. 81 percent of marketers who have used social media influencers have deemed them to be effective (source)
4. 51% of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing, because the relationship began with trust in the influencer (source)
5. A survey that shows that over 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands (source)
So how do you market using influencers without exceeding your spending?
1. Target new influencers: These are bloggers or YouTubers who have just started and moving into sponsored content. Although they may be inexperienced, they are willing and eager to start out in the industry. They are easier to work with as their branding are not as established and their content can be easily aligned with the client they are working with. Benefits include better negotiating position on cost and also being able to tap into newer audiences these influencers exert their influence on.
2. Work with proven influencers: These are influencers who have proven themselves in the industry with high engagement levels and impact in the market. Professional conduct is a must when working with them and they should be flagged immediately if they behaved otherwise.
3. Approach a group of influencers by proposing a collaboration: A way to increase the number of viewership of your marketing campaign is by increasing the number of influencers to participate in it. Although this may end up with and an overlap of audiences (audience who already watch both influencers) and thus viewership of the campaign may not increase as much, a way to counter this is by including YouTube collaboration videos where each influencer’s area of expertise can help the other in promoting and marketing the campaign’s content.
4. Using a talent agency: Talent agencies who specialise in influencers can help in recruiting the right influencers for the right marketing campaign. They remove the hassle of finding appropriate influencers, being able to organise shootings for the influencers and they bring up the level of quality in their work. One key benefit of using talent agencies is that they are able to find influencers willing to work within a price range.
Influencer Marketing is Essential to The Digital Advertising Industry. Enough Said
Influencer marketing had been thought by many as a new way of marketing, but this is quite the contrary. The idea of a person promoting a product that they like or had found useful has existed even before the idea of advertising started. Before making the choice to purchase a certain product of service, we would usually ask for an opinion from our friends or family. If there are good opinions of the product or service, it would have impacted our choice to switch brands or purchase something significant in our lives. When the first printing press stamped in the very first advertisements that promoted brands, products and services to consumers, they still relied on individual opinions. Opinions influences people’s decision to purchase something. Most of the time, it becomes more blatant than advertisements on our televisions and newspapers. Hence, the question is, why is influencer marketing still perceived as something new?
Marketing’s previous attempts at creating influencers
As influencers came before marketing, there was no way for marketing departments to identify, promote or communicate properly with these influencers. Early attempts at emulating the model of how products are promoted are through brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are people who are hired by the company to act as a spokesperson for media events. They are also meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanour, values and ethics; while portraying the company in a positive light and manner. They also influence people’s purchase decisions by showing the product used by famous people or are shown in movies. For example, Leonardo DiCaprio was selected as the brand ambassador for Tag Heuer, and a range of product placements in a James Bond movie. This method had worked extremely well for luxury products such as watches, cars, and the latest phone models. However, for product categories such as makeup, food and consumable goods, this method fails to market to people who are more critical in their purchasing decisions as they already know that brand ambassadors are paid to do advertisements. However, not all brand ambassadors are celebrities. Brand advocates who are extremely satisfied with a certain brand go out of their way to promote it. Although it may be hard to imagine the idea of an unpaid advertisement, they do exist for big brands such as Apple. They are effective influencers but their existence depends if your product is as satisfactory and unique as Apple’s products. If your product does not have a unique selling point, you may not have such fans to promote or defend you. Also, no company are able to control these die-hard fans’ behaviour, and if the relationship between the brand and the famous advocate turns sour, it could really damage the brand’s reputation.
The Internet Revolutionising things
Although influencers’ opinions on certain products and services are successful in convincing consumers, it is however not as successful as real people providing their opinions. However, with the birth of blogging and the Internet gaining mass popularity, Google drew people’s attention by providing similar advertisements among searches. At the same time, there was also a sense of distrust towards obvious social media marketing campaigns and advertisements, in which the audience had learnt to mentally block out. This is due to Internet advertising during the period 2000 to 2010 being extremely distracting with popups, animations, and the trend to place advertising all over the webpage, reducing the amount of attention given to the advertisements. This is worsened further when the user made the choice to completely block advertising due to its distracting nature. By early 2010, it was clear to the marketers that the old business model of advertising on media to promote their product or service are doing more harm than good. First of all, their click-through rate had been abysmal, as most internet users actively avoid clicking anything that looks like an advertisement. This was coupled with the huge drop in advertising on websites and it made most marketers doubt the effectivity in marketing via websites.
Influencers For A New Age
Despite the decline in advertising via websites, people still want to know more about certain products, so that they can compare and contrast them with others. The Internet began as a new avenue for people to express their opinions, and soon enough people started writing their opinions on products and services that they had tried out. It started with bloggers who gave honest opinions on things they like, and people start flocking to these bloggers for any purchasing decisions they were about to make. Most Internet users were quick to trust the bloggers’ product reviews and impressions as it embodies the most critical, honest method. According to a report by Nielsen, it was shown that a staggering amount of 92% of people are more likely to trust friends and families’ opinions than marketing ploys when searching for recommendations for products they wish to purchase. If the purchase happens to be big, they would review that product and are more likely consult several of these bloggers’ opinions. They would then be able to form a coherent opinion by themselves on whether to actually purchase that product or not. In a way, this is a return to the old way of how opinions of products are purchased, except it is a much larger circle of influencers compared to before, with the prospective purchaser having more avenues of opinions. For example, reading an article barraged with negative opinions of a brand of facial scrubs can discourage people from buying such scrubs. This has enlarged the number of social media influencers who will impact purchase decisions compared to the small circle of influencers and influencing that had existed before. It was not long after social media marketing came into play that marketing companies started to contact social media influencers. Products was offered to them to try out, and some social media influencers were even exclusively signed on as a secret brand ambassador! However, that did not work out as readers eventually were able to read that a certain brand was receiving far too much praises, and the excessive coverage the social media influencers are giving the brands. Some social media influencers with excessively large followings began to charge for sponsored content, explaining that their large audience numbers demand a constant feed of new content, which requires a lot of effort, money and resources to produce such content on their social media feeds. What these social media influencers take away in monetary form, they gave a service back in the form of the quality of content. These kind of influencers are able to create professional-looking social media campaigns that can push the brand further, while also giving marketing a channel for niche targeted advertising to the consumers. If the right social media influencers are chosen, well-targeted non-passive consumers would be more likely influenced to purchase the product. In a way, social media influencer marketing is also a return to the old way of marketing to consumers, as it leverages established psychological pathways of trust. Social media influencers are also able to give the consumers more relevant and unacknowledged information than marketing can. With mobile advertising that is casually ignored by mobile users, more brands are turning towards advertising through social media influencers on their social feeds.
Yeah, Sure, Social Media Influencer Marketing Is Booming Right Now, But It’s Just A Phase!
With the current trend of paid endorsements done by social media influencers rising, their prices are also rising to extremely high costs. A lot of marketers are pumping in more money into digital advertising, specifically influencer marketing. More social media influencers who are proven to be especially effective are further increasing their prices. While it may not seem like a stable income, there will always be value in influencer and social media marketing as long as people are still talking about their favourite makeup, food, or cars on the Internet.