Marketing is getting harder every day and brands are finding themselves at crossroads never before seen. With so much competition and such limited consumer mind space available, what matters isn’t just what is said, but also who says it.
In today’s world, recommendations matter. People make purchase decisions only after they’ve heard of a brand from someone else. Research has it that more than 80% of consumers seek brand referrals before making a purchase decision. This is where influencers come into play.
What is influencer marketing?
Consider the collaboration between luxury fashion brands Balmain and H&M in 2015. The brands decided to enlist celebrities Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Jourdan Dunn to promote the event. The girls took to social media and set the conservation flowing about the mega collaboration. Within a span of 5 months, they had over half a million people talking and tweeting about Balmain and H&M.
Stars like Jenner, Hadid and Dunn are what we call influencers – people who are industry leaders and who actively shape consumer choices with their words and actions.
Influencer marketing is a strategy that brands use to get themselves mentioned by big names in the industry. The objective is to gain visibility, customer mind space and brand recognition.
Influencer marketing for new businesses
Getting a foothold in a highly competitive market is a challenging task, especially for entrepreneurs who are relatively unknown. Business owners need to reach out to well-known people, to get their names out in the limelight.
Today, customers are beginning to shun traditional digital marketing, in favor of viewing content by influencers. A majority of under-35 customers have been observed using ad-blockers across platforms; a trend that’s beginning to show quantitative results.
Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing channels today, growing at 22%. More than 28% of marketing managers find influencer marketing a key driver in their customer acquisition strategy and it’s been observed that brands that use influencer marketing reach ROI that is 11x higher than that derived from traditional digital marketing.
Source: Influence Makers (Augure, Tomoson)
Additionally, a study by Twitter showed that 40% of Twitter users took positive purchase decisions based on recommendations from Twitter influencers. With numbers this promising, it becomes obvious why entrepreneurs and small business owners need to spend time on influencer marketing.
Developing an entrepreneur-friendly influencer marketing campaign
Here are a few things that you’ll need to do, to get your influencer marketing strategy in place:
Choose the right platform
Not all customers can be found on all platforms. For example, YouTube’s biggest demographic is 18 to 24-year old’s. If you’re looking to target women between 30 and 64, then LinkedIn is where you need to be.
Identify who your audience is and research where you’ll find them. Choose the platform first and then the influencer.
Select the influencer
To get noticed by consumers, entrepreneurs need to establish connections with micro-influencers – influencers with a modest, but highly engaged following.
When choosing an influencer, it’s important to check how their performance is online. Analyze their followership and check for bad reputation (if any). You need to see what type of posts they specialize in, what type of marketing they’re good at and whether this marketing suits you or not.
You also need to check whether there is a culture fit between your brand and the influencer or not. Once all these are known, you can go ahead and establish contact.
A brilliant way to get noticed by micro-influencers is to publish content posted by them. Content curation tools like DrumUp come in handy here. Publishing curated content not only gets you noticed by micro-influencers, but you can also start meaningful dialogue with their followers and yours. Brand visibility is at an all-time high when this happens.
If a passive approach doesn’t work, you could just ask the micro-influencer to recommend you to their followers. Of course, you’ll need to do something in return for their assistance. Not all influencers ask for monetary reimbursement. From allowing them to guest blog on your website to marketing their brands and social accounts, you can endear yourself to micro-influencers.
Co-ordinate your marketing efforts
Like a well-rehearsed dance, your influencer marketing campaign needs to be in-sync with your other marketing strategies. This will require a bit of scheduling. But, holding press releases or events around the same time as your influencer marketing campaign will add value.
The objective is to get noticed and to reinforce your brand presence in the minds of customers. This can only happen if you, your marketing strategies and the strategies of your influencer are in-sync.
Finally, study your KPIs and analyze whether you’ve achieved all that you’ve set out to do. Remember that influencer marketing takes time to be fruitful and judge yourself accordingly. Being sensitive and proactive to trends will give you a leg-up in the battle for customer mind space.
Source: Influence Makers (Augure, Tomoson)
Some do’s and don’ts for a successful influencer marketing campaign.
- Always share your influencer’s posts, videos and advertisements on your blog or website
- Proportion your influencer marketing budget to accommodate multiple influencers
- SEO-optimize your campaign to reach adjacent brands and influencers
- Sign a contract with your influencer and pre-plan your campaign
- Use other marketing strategies wisely to complement your campaign
- Select your influencer at random
- Spam your influencers with requests and demands
- Forget your influencers on the way to the top
- Start a business relationship without set guidelines
- Bank solely on influencers for success
Influencer marketing, if done right, is highly effective. It could be the golden ladder you were looking for to get to the top.
About the Author: Nisha Prakash is a blogger specializing in social media marketing and content management. She is an avid runner and a bibliophile.