As humans, we seem to trust the words of people more than companies. Also, we trust some particular people more than others. As simple as that, influencer marketing is born.
While influencer marketing may unnerve many marketers as they lose total control of how marketing messages of their products and services will be presented, it is a highly effective channel to reach out to their customers… when done correctly.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is an extension of what is traditionally known as content marketing; influencer marketing also encompasses editorial and videos but posted in the words of opinion leaders. These people have influence over an audience type, as they are seen as knowledgeable in a specific field and have presence in a specific channel. In other words, thanks to their influence, they are able to change the audience’s perception towards certain brands and products.
How does it work? Companies reach out to opinion leaders so that they are able to test out a brand experience or a product. However, this only makes sense when companies collaborate with opinion leaders highly relevant to their businesses. This relevance is based on reach, contextual resonance, as well as the right match of their followers with the targeted customer group.
In return, opinion leaders will broadcast their experience with the brand freely and according to how they felt about it. The aim for businesses would be to encourage relevant opinion leaders to speak positively about their brand or product, in order to convince the respective followers to purchase.
Why it is hot right now
With the boom in social media popularity, there are ever more people voicing out their opinions on the Internet and there are even more people following these people on their respective channels, be it a blog, YouTube or Instagram. The ease of getting a follower base and engaging with millions of conversations with large international audiences has led to a spurt in the number of influencers in almost every segment possible.
Why do people prefer to listen to other people?
Word of mouth has always been deemed as more trustworthy. That’s why we don’t just look at how the e-commerce describes its products, we prefer to see what other people say about it how the clothes fit them. If the hotel describes its rooms to have a breathtaking view, we still want to see if the prior visitors said the same. Likewise, influencers don’t simply try to convince their followers about the brands they work with, they also openly speak well or badly about their own or others’ experiences, making them a neutral source of information.
This means two things:
1. More attention
Due to the large amount of exposure to ads daily, ever more people are becoming saturated with ads, leading to a new phenomenon called “banner blindness”. This means people are starting to get immune to ads and are ignoring them without realising it. This new form of marketing therefore opens up new opportunities to audiences who typically ignore ads.
2. More purchase intent
There has been research that show that more internet users prefer to learn about products through content rather than through traditional native ads. The willingness to read more information is also positively proportional to their purchase intent. By engaging with influencers, businesses give a push in their customers’ purchase intent!
Hence, it is interesting to open this as a consistent channel in marketing, whether it is to increase awareness and generate positive conversations as such, or to counter negative experiences out there going viral. (And of course, this talk about your brand helps your SEO!)
What to look out for when engaging influencers
Engaging influencers isn’t about throwing out all your arrows and hoping you hit a bull’s-eye with one. This only decreases your ability to monitor what people are saying about you – which is the main danger of influencer marketing after all. Thus, there are several things to look out for:
Check the suitability for your target audience
It’s not all about how many influencers you wish to engage and how willing you are to invest in them. In order for this to work, both your brands and your influencers need to match in terms of values, audience and style.
Consider influencers with relevant reach
The relevance of the influencers is not just limited to their current status, but also their past – and it has to be relevant. If your goal is to raise Twitter talk about your brand, then engaging with someone with 20 years of work experience in traditional channels does not match up to someone with 5 years experience on Twitter.
Let it happen
With today’s banner blindness, it makes sense to let your ads look like non-ads as well. Your campaign should include giving influencers something to experience – let them test out your product, service or just the brand experience. While most influencers will disagree to having their work copyread by you, you can ensure that they get a good experience with your brand.
Most importantly, ensure you have the right technology to assess the influencers’ performance. There is a very broad spectrum of KPIs these days for influencer marketing, mostly engagement oriented. These can be anything from clicks, views, interactions, video views, downloads, etc. With proper performance analysis, you will be able to determine if the influencer was indeed the right one for your brand and better sustain this key relationship!