When Legendary Pictures, producers of the 2014 horror film, “As Above, So Below” teamed up with well-known YouTube PewDiePie to create miniseries for the movie, it was a pitch-perfect evidence of just how big and effective influencer marketing had become. The miniseries, dubbed “Catacombs Challenge,” generated 19.9 million views on PewDiePie’s YouTube channel (which has 30 million ardent subscribers) and helped generate 9.7 million views for the movie’s official trailer, a few weeks after it was released. This was a clear sign that brands had finally figured out how to effectively collaborate with influencers. As a marketing trend, influencer marketing has grown exponentially in the last three or so years and is set to grow even further in the coming years, especially with the increase of social media channels.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is certainly becoming a major player in the marketing industry. Imagine a marketing trend that was estimated to be worth $2 billion only in 2017, but is predicted to reach $10 billion by 2020! To cement even further its place as major trend in the marketing landscape, influencer marketing has grabbed the attention of Federal Trade Commission who issued stricter regulations to both influencers and brands in late 2017 in regards to partnership disclosure. It may be quite hard to believe that influencer marketing began as a small marketing tactic, but has now risen to become a permanent marketing staple in 2018. If so, what exactly is influencer marketing and why is such a “new kid on the block” receiving a lot of attention?
In simplest terms, influencer marketing is the process by which brands use people, who create high-swaying conversations with their audience, to create more buzz for the brand, their products or services. Take it from the angle of traditional celebrity endorsements and place it into the modern day social media setup where marketing campaigns are mostly content-driven. But unlike celebrity endorsements where a celebrity is paid just to endorse a product that he/she doesn’t actually have a proper clue about, influencer marketing is authentic and typically a collaboration between a brand and an influencer.
Again, influencers are not celebrities, per se. They do not lead flashy lifestyles and can be anyone, found anywhere and able to resonate with the average Joe of their various fields. An influencer is basically the most crucial part of this marketing trend. This is because they have large followings on various social media platforms and on the web, thereby making them very influential in the modern day set up. An influencer can be a popular single mom blogger giving single moms tips on how to raise their kids, a popular makeup artist on YouTube or Instagram or even a dancer with a huge following on Twitter or Facebook. In other words, every industry has influential people (influencers) and it’s upon the marketing arm of a business to find them. In most cases, influencers can be easily recognized by their millions of followers and that’s basically the audience that a brand should target once it chooses to take the influencer marketing route.
Why is Influencer Marketing Receiving More Attention?
You might be quick to ask; why is influencer marketing receiving so much attention? Well, numbers do not lie. Influencer marketing has tremendous impacts in the marketing landscape. A recent study by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions clearly shows that influencer marketing delivers 11 times higher Return On Investment (ROI) than all other forms of traditional digital marketing. So impactful is influencer marketing that it’s already trouncing well-known traditional advertising such as TV and print, as well as desktop and social media ads. But how?
1. Consumers Trust Influencers More
Celebrity endorsements once reigned supreme, but those days are long gone. Customers have become aware of this marketing ploy and are more and more relying on word of mouth or peer recommendation rather than celebrity endorsements. In other words, you’re likely to trust a brand that a friend has recommended rather than a brand that’s endorsed by a celebrity who probably has never even used the product he/she is endorsing. Here is where influencers come in. Influencers treat their audience
as their best friends and do not just promote any brand or product to get paid, but only if and when they trust the brand. Credibility and honesty is crucial to them and so they won’t jeopardize it by partnering with a brand if they aren’t so sure about it.
A typical example is that consumers are more likely to trust a makeup blogger more than a celebrity if they both had to review the same product. Reason? Because the makeup blogger has a lot more in common to the average person and probably has a better
understanding of the product having used it. On the other hand, a celebrity has limited or no knowledge of the product and most likely has a makeup artist on-hand to apply the product on her. In fact, 92% of consumers trust influencers’ recommendations over celebrity endorsements and traditional ads, at least according to a research by Forbes.
2. Influencers have Content
There’s no doubt that quality content play a fundamental role in any marketing campaign. The best thing with influencer marketing revolves around the fact that influencers have great content that easily impact on their audience, thus reducing work for brands. Influencers have great content on an almost daily basis and that’s why they impact more on millennials and Generation X who are so hungry for information. People tend not to respond to digital ads because they feel that these ads are extremely intrusive, but have no meaningful content. In fact, they usually block these ads using ad blocking technology, which ensure that the ads don’t even make it to their screens. This is pretty sad because it’s likely that you’re spending millions in digital ads without being sure if people are seeing your brand. This should be clear a warning sign that influencer marketing is changing the game and taking over the marketing landscape.
3. Influencers have a Wide and Loyal Audience
Influencers have huge following in their hundreds of thousands if not millions on various social media platforms, as well huge traffic on their blogs. This is a clear indication that influencers are able to reach a wider audience, but the best part is that their audiences are loyal and trust them (influencers). From a brand’s perspective, this can be crucial because an influencer will mention your brand name and it will be amplified and spread like wild fire.
4. Influencers have Good Networks
Influencers are also important in building good networks, especially if you are targeting a different market. By collaborating with a good influencer, it’s more likely you’ll meet other influencers offering a different market niche other than your already existing market target, thus multiplying your audience and increasing visibility.
5. Influencers will Provide You with New Trends and Insights
Influencers are pacesetters or early adopters. They’re often aware of new trends and insights, especially in the ever-evolving social media landscape. In fact, they tend to be among the first people to use these new trends. Through influencers, brands can get familiar with these new trends and use them not just to their benefit, but also to engage prospective customers.
Choosing the Right Influencer
Choosing the right influencer is ultimately important in influencer marketing. As a brand, you’d want to work with influencers who produce and share content that can reverberate with your target market. In other words, you should go for influencers who can have meaningful impact on your buyers’ decision making process, hence a positive impact on your brand and business. For instance, it’s important to avoid working with influencers whose content is full of foul language and wacky commentary, especially if such actions don’t resonate well with your target audience.
How to Attract Influencers
With such important impacts, it’s only imperative that every brand should strive to attract influencers. A simple rule in influencer marketing is that it’s two-way highway. In other words, it’s marketing not just to the brand, but also to the influencer.
It’s important to keep in mind that influencers do not collaborate with just about any brand or product. They’re usually very careful and conscious about the brands that they choose to work with because their audience is built on being honest and forthright. You should also keep in mind that influencers build their following organically over a period of time and has put in a lot of effort to reach such a level that they wouldn’t want to partner with a brand or product that would jeopardize their efforts or relationship with their audiences.
That said, you should ensure that you put in place measures that would attract your targeted influencer before even thinking about his/her audience. One crucial way of achieving this is by building a relationship with the influencers through simple actions. Follow them on social media platforms, share their insights and link with them. You can also consider giving them platforms to share their insights such as talking at a customer convention, as well as affording them the chance to add some input to the brand or product. With this, they’ll feel attached to your brand and you shall have built a fruitful relationship with them from which you can now start collaborating.
Again, influencers like to be independent, real and authentic. They’re well aware that modern-day shoppers are savvy enough and would know if they’ve been paid to just mention the product. So they’re likely to work with you if you give them the freedom to work independently instead of dictating to them. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have any put, but it should be discussed and agreed on. They don’t want to fall in the unforgivable trap of copy-pasting instructions from your PR because it would put serious dents on their credibility, particularly if their audience were to discover this.
It’s not surprising that the ever-evolving digital landscape is changing the way customers access information and the way they make decisions. Even though traditional advertising methods will always have some power, they are steadfastly being trounced by relationship-building marketing methods such as influencer marketing, which offers – by far – greater ROI and greater customer relationships.
Influencer marketing may be a “new kid” on the marketing block, but its impacts are arguably far more powerful than any other form of marketing. In a modern-day world of social media, information travels faster like waves, and influencers are the wave makers. They often have huge following (in millions) and because their audiences trust them, they can influence their audiences to either love or leave a brand. Therefore, it is high time brands start using influencer marketing and taking it seriously. Find the right influencers, invest in using them appropriately and you’re bound to reap massive rewards. Remember; 92% of consumers trust influencers and will continue to do so, at least in the foreseeable future.