It’s no secret that traditional advertising is losing its reach. Television ads are now fast-forwarded; pop-up ads can be disabled. Along with that, celebrities are not the endorsers they once were. They can build brand awareness, but not necessarily sales. Social influencers have eclipsed celebrities in consumer trust. In fact, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends, family, and social influencers above all other forms of advertising, including celebrity endorsements.
The power of these social influencers isn’t based on their follower count but on their ability to influence through authenticity and curation. Following are some key influencer marketing insights:
1. Why marketers love influencer marketing.
An authentic recommendation by a trusted influencer is effective for several reasons. First, influencers know what kind of content their followers want to see. The influencer’s interpretation of how to showcase content may not always be exactly the way you’d like, but when given the freedom to create, they produce what most resonates with their audience.
Influencers are also a more affordable choice than traditional celebrity endorsements. That equals more content, greater reach, more reliable advocacy, and ultimately, more engagement with your brand.
2. How to find the right influencers for your brand.
Influencer marketing isn’t new; the only thing that’s changed is the status of the influencer. Realistically, most of us aren’t influenced by what Emily Ratajkowski is tweeting. We’re much more likely to be influenced by friends, family, and the people we’re following on Instagram, Twitter, or our favorite blogs.
There are great tools available to help find your best influencers, including BuzzSumo, or Moz’s Followerwonk. Sometimes it’s as easy as examining your brand’s current fans on social media feeds. You may have already caught the attention of influencers who love your products and services.
3. How to work with influencers for the best outcome.
It’s important to note that not all influencers are right for your brand, so before jumping on board with someone merely because they have the most followers, take the time to make sure you’ve chosen the perfect advocate for your products.
You should be comfortable with the influencer’s style, and how it will mesh with your brand vision. Don’t try to control the relationship; for the best results you need to trust the influencer to weave your brand messaging into their narrative in an authentic way. They’ve invested time building their audience relationships based on their own unique voice, perspective, and storytelling style, and they need to maintain their credibility to be effective. Though they should have control of how they talk about your brand, certainly be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. Authenticity and transparency are essential in a successful relationship, so make it as easy as possible for them to understand your vision, and then step back and let them do their thing.
4. Influencer marketing gone wrong.
Sometimes influencer campaigns can go horribly wrong. The blame may rest on the influencer, on the brand that doesn’t deliver on its promise, or both.
Consider the Fyre Festival, forced to close on opening day due to poor planning and execution. The marketing plan for this disaster was missing a key component of any good influencer campaign: transparency. The organizers contracted 400+ celebrity influencers, including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, who pretended to have an interest in the festival and promoted it through their social media channels, encouraging fans to buy tickets. Rather than the transparency and honesty required for a successful partnership, these young celebrity influencers didn’t disclose that they were paid to promote the festival, per FTC rules. Ultimately, the organizers spent so much money on influencers that they didn’t have enough money to execute the actual event.
Each influencer and brand have their own stories, and when working together, they can reflect poorly on each other. In Pepsi’s recent “Live for Now Moments” ad featuring Kendall Jenner, the objective was a message of unification and diversity. The campaign, however, was wrong for both the influencer and the brand, and the result was a complete backlash by the public. A smart approach would have been to test the concept before investing in the campaign to gauge public reaction.
5. Benefits of micro-influencers.
Influencers with large followings may not be the best choice for your brand. Micro-influencers with fewer followers often have more quality influence and deeper engagement with a more tailored audience. That engagement leads to trust, which leads to more response.
The benefits of micro-influencers are many: they are typically more affordable, their audiences more targeted, and they produce quality content in a genuine way that can ultimately result in a higher response rate.
Influencer marketing shows no signs of slowing down in the immediate future. As it continues to grow, brands need to search for those influencers who align with their marketing objectives to generate impactful campaigns that are believable, transparent and honest. If not, the trust you’ve spent years building for your brand can be gone in an instant.
If you’re planning to work with influencers this year and would like some guidance, give us a call. We’re always here to help.