Influencer Marketing is, theoretically, not a new concept. But it has gained traction in recent years as more marketers incorporate this strategy into their overall advertising budget. By 2022, Influencer Marketing is predicted to be a $15 billion industry, which will only continue to grow and evolve as consumer behavior adapts to new technologies and social channels. So, what is this Influencer Marketing exactly, and how does a brand go about leveraging it? All this and more will be revealed with Simplus’ five W’s of Influencer Marketing:
The concept of Influencer Marketing has been a staple in advertising and marketing for ages. However, in recent years it has gained momentum as the means by which brands can communicate to consumers via influencers on social media. Before Facebook and YouTube, there were three main media outlets: print, radio, and television. Ads were designed for broad reach and in many cases featured celebrities using or endorsing a product. Chances are you have seen the “Mean” Joe Green Coca-Cola commercial or know that in the 80’s Michael Jackson promoted Pepsi. In many ways, both of these examples can be compared to today’s influencer market, except instead of casting a broad net, today’s influencers are often smaller-scale personalities speaking to a highly targeted audience of followers via their personal social media accounts.
These days, Brand Influencers extend beyond music, television, sports, or movie celebrities. While early adopters of influencer marketing reached out to mega-celebrities with millions of followers such as the Kardashians or Christiano Rinaldo, brands are finding that these macro-influencers—while good for brand awareness—do not provide the level of brand engagement or ROI of a niche influencer. This is where micro- and nano-influencers enter the marketing picture.
Micro-influencers maintain a smaller yet more engaged audience than their macro counterparts. On the surface, their following count appears smaller (less than 100K); however, their audience tends to engage at a rate over 40 percent higher than macro-influencers. This increased engagement combined with a more affordable price point often yields a profitable return for brands.
To access an even more granular level customer, nano-influencers allow brands to penetrate the most niche of audiences for their product or service. These influencers are often highly engaged with their smaller following, working hard to create top-notch content and offering more cost-effective options for brands to leverage when working together. In many cases, nano-influencers can produce the biggest return on spend and generate a loyal fan base for the brands they partner with.
Managing a successful influencer marketing program extends beyond the number of followers. Consider the demographic of an influencer’s audience, the content produced, and their personal branding. Even the best brand influencer can miss the mark if they attempt to promote a product that does not resonate with their audience. For instance, a YouTube personality known for makeup tutorials would likely be unsuccessful in promoting an auto parts store. Why? Because their audience is primarily interested in makeup tutorials. This is where content and audience must align with the brand and the product or service.
With the help of Salesforce Marketing Cloud Social Studio, brands can create Persona Groups to gather persona-specific insights and and analyze social audiences. These Persona Group dashboards provide marketers with valuable information such as word clouds, engagement metrics, and influencer scores. Social Studio also enables marketers to identify potential influencers based on interactions as shown in the Top Influencers report, as well as determine key areas of focus for future influencer campaigns.
There are eight primary social media channels which compose the majority of the influencer marketing space: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, and TikTok. Instagram is the clear leader with just over 800K brand influencer accounts, which is more than twice the 347K influencer accounts found on second place YouTube.
TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) is the fastest-growing social app among Generation Z with nearly 60 percent of their users falling in the 16–24 age bracket. Experts predict TikTok will see rapid growth with influencer marketing due to the rise in not only app usage, but also because there is currently no advertising platform for TikTok.
Brands can identify optimal channels for their influencer campaigns by analyzing data found in Marketing Cloud Social Studio. Using dashboard reports, brands get a summarized view of social profiles, topics and keywords, whereas workbenches provide marketers with a customizable view of the conversations surrounding their brand.
THE WHAT ELSE
Before jumping into the influencer marketing space, it is important to outline a comprehensive plan for your program complete with outcome goals. These plans should complement other marketing initiatives such as promotions, product launches, and email campaigns. Ensure proper tracking is established if applicable, whether it is appended URLs, a customized landing page, or individual coupon codes tied to specific influencers. In order to maintain the audience’s trust with your influencer, avoid detailed scripting and pushy sales pitches.
Consider all options when establishing relationships with your influencers. Experienced influencers will most likely have a talking sheet outlining their services and costs. More often than not, the smaller the following, the more flexibility brands may have with how they can work with the influencer. Some will ask for product donation in exchange for content creation; others will expect a form of cash payment whether flat rate or percentage of generated revenue. As the brand, it is best to account for multiple types of influencer relationships in your budget with concrete KPIs to measure the success of the program.
Brands have to change the way they approach consumers and how they spend their marketing dollars, or run the risk of getting lost in the “noise” of today’s digital world. If the statistics alone have not proven why influencer marketing is important, perhaps these 10 benefits will:
1. Influencers create content to promote your brand or service with links to your site. This content is then shared across multiple social platforms. (Hello search visibility and SEO!)
2. Influencers build trust with their audience. Their recommendations are viewed as more credible than other forms of advertising.
3. Influencer content is sought after by consumers and not pushed upon them like traditional advertising. (Ad blockers anyone?)
4. Influencer Marketing programs on average cost significantly less than traditional paid channels such as cost-per-click.
5. Influencers drive qualified traffic to your site. (Qualified traffic = higher conversion!)
7. Consumers engage more with influencers than with brands directly. (What would you prefer: a hard sell or an interesting article?)
8. Influencers can introduce your brand or product to new audiences. This is especially beneficial for new product launches.
9. Influencer Marketing offers more flexibility than traditional channels.
10. Did we mention influencers create content? Marketers can leverage influencers for fresh content, thus reducing the burden on internal teams.
Influencer Marketing is nothing new, but it is on the rise like never before, and your brand should be taking advantage of its numerous benefits from customer engagement and loyalty to content creation and affordability over traditional ads. Not certain where to start? Just remember Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud comes equipped with the tools necessary to get started with Influencer Marketing the smart way. And no, we did not forget the “when”…. Because the when of Influencer Marketing is pretty simple: NOW.