Influencer marketing, the buzz word in advertising in 2017, is a driving force for brands looking to improve sales and grow their audience through social media. Defined as the action of promoting and selling services through people who have the ability to reach and influence an audience, influencer marketing is a trend that certainly won’t be fading any time soon.
Who are they?
When we think of “Influencers” we envisage genetically perfect humans with countless followers on Instagram, modelling a protein shake and harking on about its benefits in their captions. Social Media has opened up a new method of marketing that gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to share their voice. Influencer marketing, despite it’s new and trendy name has actually been taking place for years. Who remembers the Got Milk Campaigns from 20 years ago that employed the likes of Britney Spears, David Beckham, Whoopie Goldberg and Miley Cyrus to promote their message?
Social Media’s reinvention of Influencer Marketing has been exceptionally successful due to its accessibility. Anyone with internet access and a smartphone can share their opinion and content, and, if they do it well enough, become a so-called “Influencer”. The most intriguing, relatable or beautiful individuals are the ones that will rise above the rest, carving out a career for themselves in this new world that no one quite understands yet. Those who succeed in follower count, content creation or engagement are a new breed of influencer, rapidly changing the marketing landscape thanks to social media. These individuals are creating their own brands, brands that mainstream businesses are now scrambling to work with.
What do they do?
It seems like the dream job doesn’t it? Being able to lie in if you want to, being able to work from home and stay in your onesie all day, (until it’s time to take an OOTD of course). For a social media influencer remembering to capture their selfie while there’s enough daylight is just as important to them as meeting a deadline is to a mainstream office worker. So how did they get to be able to land such a dream-like career? To be sent free things all the time, to be able to work only for themselves, choosing what they write about, what they put on the internet? Years of hard work, that’s what. For the majority of small influencers it’s their bit on the side, documenting their hobby or a part of their life, whether that be brunching on acai bowls, or their fitness journey to become healthier and leaner. It takes a lot of hashtagging, of paying for the products first, of reviews, of reaching out to other influencers and a whole heap of content to be able to make it their full time job. In an interview about how he made social media his job, Jim Chapman, a Youtube vlogger, blogger and model from Norwich, said that,
“You really have to commit. If you want to make a Youtube channel or write a blog then do it today, don’t think about how you want to start it for months. Your personality is the most important thing. People like those who they can relate to, who seem the same on camera as they are in reality. Because Youtube is reality, it’s real life. Content is equally as important. You have to have something to talk about. However, if you have a personality (which everyone in the world does otherwise they’d be brain dead) then you can actually interest people with whatever you’re talking about.”
A Risky Business
The influencer industry is still a start-up and for the freelanced “creators” it could all come crashing down in a matter of seconds. A story recently broke out about a famous Youtuber, Logan Paul, who uploaded a vlog depicting the recently deceased corpse of a man who had committed suicide by hanging at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The video gained 6.3 million views within 24 hours of being uploaded and received huge backlash for being insensitive and disrespectful. Garnering 50 million views before being removed from his channel, the controversial video has resulted in Youtube cutting all ties with Paul. They removed Paul’s channels from Google Preferred, chose not to feature him in season four of their comedy series Foursome, and also put his new series on hold. Like all of these influencers, he built his career around his likeability and relatability. A thoughtless Tweet from when they were 16, promoting an unhealthy product on impressionable teens, or in Paul’s case, uploading an insensitive video with footage of a dead victim of suicide, can all bring an influencer’s career crashing down.
Why should your brand work with an Influencer?
If you want to launch a new product or a new version of one of your existing ones you need to get your audience excited about it. Sure you can post about it all you want on your social media but if your follower count isn’t big enough, you won’t reach enough potential customers.
Influencer marketing content has the ability to sway opinions, spark conversations, increase brand loyalty and boost sales. Whether you want to gain more followers or drive more customers to your website it’s important to define your goal from working with an influencer. Once you’ve set a goal in plan, you can define the key performance metrics with which you can measure the success of your campaign. KPIs such as social media impressions or reach would be relevant to a goals that involved raising awareness about your new product from posts by an influencer.
What Influencer should your brand work with?
You need to define your goal to decide what influencer you should work with. It’s easy to think that you should try and woo the influencer with the biggest following but it’s more efficient to choose the influencer that matches your brand’s ethos and your goal. Mega-influencers will cost you more just like Beyoncé will cost a festival more than last year’s winner of American idol. You can win the trust of a small but relevant audience through micro-influencers and agree on a reasonable price as your product may benefit the influencer. If you're a business operating at national level don't try and work with an Influencer who has millions of followers worldwide. Instead reach out to smaller influencers, local to your region, to the audience you actually want to initially target. For example, hotels and resorts are popular with influencer marketing programmes, offering influencers with a large audience similar to those who would stay with them, a free stay in return for content featuring and raising their accomodation.
Recently Cult Beauty, a beauty and skincare online retailer, offered a night’s luxury retreat featuring a jam packed itinerary of candlelit yoga and facials to a host of beauty, fashion and fitness influencers with the aim of building brand awareness. If each of them posted on Instagram and Youtube about their undeniably luxurious experience, Cult Beauty would increase their brand’s awareness, website vistors and engagement rate on social media thanks to the influencers’ combined following.
Trust Is Key
Once you decide on your ideal influencer you need to build a genuine relationship with them. Whether that’s choosing a group and offering them a fun filled holiday or retreat, or that’s reaching out to one with why you think they’d be perfect to promote your product or brand. The reason Influencer marketing works so well is because the influencers are so “real and normal” and honest. Their followers trust them to only advertise products they believe in. Zoe Sugg, known by her social media handle Zoella, started a Youtube channel over seven years ago when vlogging wasn’t even a concept yet. She now boasts over 12 million followers worldwide, has been viewed on Youtube over a billion times, is a bestselling author and the founder of successful bath and beauty range, Zoella Beauty. However she said in a Youtube video once that she would never promote something she doesn’t believe in. She owes everything to her fans because she built her career around their interest in her. Why lose her followers trust for a sponsorship deal? An influencer needs to be cautious with choosing the brand they want to work with because the community they spent years building can come crashing down in a matter of minutes.
A Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign can skyrocket your business model
More and more brands are choosing to work with influencers on creative projects (collaborations) with the aim harnessing some of their following and increasing their revenues. Take Gymshark; an online fitness clothing apparel and the UK’s fastest growing company, (Fastrack 100). In March it collaborated with Nikki Blackketter, a fitness influencer with over 1 and half million Instagram followers, to design a Gymshark X Nikki B collection. One of the first companies to really exploit “influencer marketing”, Gymshark sent the online fitness guru Lex Griffin (lex_fitness) their first ever handmade clothes in the hope he would wear them in a Youtube video. He did and the Gymshark empire began to grow. Gymshark identified a gap in the market for speciality gym clothes that would flatter the muscles we work so hard to build from the gym. They reached out to fitness influencers, bodybuilders, bikini competitors, anyone who they believed would love their products as much as they did. The trick for a brand, looking for the ideal influencer, is to find someone that will believe in them as much as they do. Influencers rely on brand sponsorships and collaborations like musicians rely on gigs or like actors rely parts. If you can prove that what you’re offering them is as important as what they’re offering you, you’re in with a fighting chance.
Choose the Right Influencer Marketing Campaign
There are different types of Influencer marketing campaigns that you can execute on Instagram. You can get influencers to create sponsored posts that feature your product or service if you’re looking for exposure. Or you can ask for a simple brand mention or a review of your product or service. A review is a better option as it will help to inform your target audience about your product while winning their trust. You could also ask influencers to take over your Instagram account for a day. Online fashion retailers, Missguided and Boohoo are popular for asking well known fashion bloggers to do this as it helps to gain them new followers.
It’s crucial to maintain a level of transparency with the campaign and thanks to Instagram’s recent update where influencers can now add a “Paid Partnership with…” to tag to their sponsored posts, their audience will know that it’s a paid campaign. This will ensure that you comply with the FTC endorsement guideline and avoid paying heavy penalties in case of failure to disclose.
Track your Campaign Results
Once you’ve chosen your influencer and set up your campaign it’s vital that you start to consider how you’re going to track your results. No matter how influential your Influencer, or how unique your campaign, you need to be able to measure if your investments are paying off. This may prove to be difficult as ROI measurement is still the biggest influencer marketing challenge. This is mainly because it’s hard to determine the direct financial return of an influencer marketing campaign. You can try measuring your campaign ROI by considering other aspects in which the influencers help achieve your campaign goal. For example, you may be able to measure the campaign according to factors such as traffic driven, social reach, social media impressions, engagement rate, etc. Or you could offer your influencer a discount code with a unique URL (e.g (LOVINGSARAHSDAY for 25% off at the checkout) so you can measure how many conversions said influencer drives and if they’re maintaining a partnership with.
If you don’t want to offer a discount on your campaign, for example you just want to boost your brand’s awareness, you can use the two previously-mentioned tools — NeoReach and Julius — to monitor your campaign results. NeoReach, for instance, helps you discover the number of impressions and engagement generated by your influencers. It also helps you monitor the cost per impression and cost per engagement along with your overall campaign spending.
Julius helps you monitor the individual performance of your total impressions and engagement generated. You can also view your overall engagement rate and the cost you incur for each engagement. The tool even lets you keep track of the individual engagement rate and cost per engagement of your influencers.
How Facebook’s Recent Change to the Newsfeed is impacting Businesses and Influencers
While Influencer marketing doesn't look like it’s declining any time soon, Mark Zuckerberg shook up the world a few weeks ago when he announced that Facebook will be changing its algorithm to promote more personal content rather than news. Gone are the days when Instagram and Facebook were chronological. Facebook’s infamous algorithm of late 2016 limited businesses’ reach to 30% of their total follower count on average but now this new updated version will show even less organic media content, in a bid to curb “fake news” and short term user engagement. Instagram Influencers, no matter what the niche, have their own content style, their own voice, that for whatever reason, resonated with their audience and caused that audience to explode. With this change to Facebook’s algorithm influencers and their audiences will garner even more attention with their organic content, while similar, non-paid content from businesses and brands will suffer. Zuckerberg wants to foster deeper connections between people on social media and therefore has decided to show less business and media content but more “people content” on the Newsfeed. But if businesses execute even more influencer marketing through these individuals that are Influencers, where will Facebook draw the line? Influencers have been recently posting that the algorithm is actually hurting their own brands.
With change comes compromise and Influencers need to work extra hard to boost their engagement rates. For Influencer marketing campaigns, this will actually bring about better results for businesses.
Facebook wants to create a more intimate relationship between people on social media, which in turn should produce greater Influencer Marketing Campaign Results.
About The Marketing Team No matter where we are or what we’re doing, we’re always listening to office gossip… And by that we mean blog content! Innovative features on the platform, clients’ feedback, the latest social ad tech news, we’re a sponge for knowledge. We’re constantly striving to produce unconventional content relating to our social ad tech solutions in order to educate our readers on all the latest in the social-media sphere.All posts by The Marketing Team
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