In the new age, like everything else, marketing has also changed immensely. The billboards and posters were replaced by online video advertising. As the number of online ads increased, there has been a staggering increase in the competition for the attention of a lead. The fact that the general audience has started to actively avoid ads is becoming a major hurdle for companies to get heard by their target audiences.
Modern marketing, however, has found a palpable solution to this issue. For gaining the audience’s attention, all we need to do is find someone who already has their ear. This someone we’re looking for is an ‘influencer.’
An influencer is someone from a definite niche who has an online following of significant size and is capable of influencing the said following’s decisions.
A study showed that only 1% of millennials trust online ads while 33% of them preferred blog reviews and around 40% of them purchased the products after seeing an influencer on Youtube, Instagram, etc. use them. Influencer Marketing is using influencers to market our products to their audience.
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INFLUENCER MARKETING VS. TRADITIONAL ADVERTISEMENTS
Why would one want to use a relatively novel marketing technique rather than sticking with the already known options? Are the odds worth it?
It is quite obvious both methods are based on connection and engagement with the target audience. However, this is where the similarities seem to end.
The video advertising market has become so saturated that people do not know which ones to trust anymore. This has led to a phenomenon called ad-blindness where more than 86% of the people click off the ad without watching it.
A lot of people have started to doubt the credibility of such ads. Authenticity has become an important factor with leads.
The audience already trusts their influencer. When influencers put out sponsored content it tends to come off more or less as recommendations. They sound more organic and authentic than traditional ads.
Most people tend to perceive ads as abrupt and disruptive experiences coming in the way of their entertainment. As a result, most platforms have altered their algorithms to provide preference to creators and content more than paid ads. Influencer marketing is favoured by the algorithm because the sponsored content exists as a part of original content created by the influencers.
With video ads, the platform like Instagram or Youtube controls who watches the ads, and the companies have very little power over this matter. It is less than likely for the ad to reach the desired target audience. Since we choose which influencers to reach out to, it is easier to get the attention of our target audience in this way.
Due to the high increase of competition for attention, there is a lot of pressure on the advertising team to make extremely exceptional ads ( often with higher budgets) to merely be heard. With influencers, they know their audience the best. This helps them do product placement in a way that pleases their audience and sticks with them as more memorable than a video ad.
Paid marketing persists only as long as the budget allows. If the company cannot afford to pay to run the ads they will cease to exist. When influencers market the products, the ads stay on the internet as a part of the influencer’s content for a very long time. This leads to relative longevity of brand exposure as compared to traditional ads.
The one advantage that traditional ads come with is the specific tools designed to help record the results of the effort put into advertising. This is because this method has been in usage for a longer period.
Influencer advertising is a subset of influencer marketing. Influencer advertising refers to short-term transactional relationships with influencers involving one-off payments. The latter, on the other hand, refers to meaningful long-term relationships that are less focused on transactions but reap more earned media value.
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FINDING THE RIGHT INFLUENCERS
There are several types of influencers you might want to collaborate with:
- Celebrities: Movie stars, singers, and so on
- Industry Experts: Those with a qualification that makes them professionally trustworthy to sell your product
- Non-Competing brands: better allies than enemies!
It is important to know that when looking for influencers, there are several important factors to consider. For influencers, the most popular doesn’t automatically equate to the most influential.
On basis of size, influencers can be classified as:
- Macro: Celebrities, politicians having a following of greater than 100,000 people.
- Magic Middle: Youtubers, bloggers, etcetera with a following not lesser than 10,000 followers
- Micro: Small content creators with a following of fewer than 10,000 people.
Surveys show that 60% of people would trust their favourite YouTuber or Twitch streamer more than traditional celebrities. Smaller influencers are more relatable to people than rich celebrities. Smaller influencers also have higher audience engagement rates. This means that a higher percentage of people are going to be clicking on the links.
Adding to the above argument, smaller influencers also demand lesser payment for the promotions they do than their bigger counterparts. However, it is also important to ensure that these small influencers still have a significantly large audience.
Something else to keep in mind is the existence of fraudulent influencer accounts. One way to ensure that the influencer we are contacting is legitimate is to check their reach to engagement ratio. If influencers with a large number of followers still get little to no likes, comments etcetera it is likely that the account is fake.
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Once you have decided on the type of influencer and the range of followers your influencer must have, you need to search for influencers that are the most relevant to your product. To determine which influencers are relevant to your marketing strategy, you need to know who your audience is.
Define your audience by framing a buyer persona. Determine the demographic and psychographic details about what your average buyer would look like. For example, a typical consumer for tampons would be biologically female and within the age range of 14-55.
Then do some research about where on the internet you can find the people interested in your product. People who belong to a certain niche dominate some platforms more than others. For example, the beauty industry dominates Instagram and Youtube, while gamers dominate Twitch.
Furthermore, it is better if your influencer shares an audience with your company. It would be more organic and genuine if a film commentary YouTuber did a sponsored advertisement for a movie streaming platform. This would also mean you are more likely to reach your target audience bringing up rates of conversion and a significant increase in sales.
Consider doing thorough research on the influencer before reaching out to them. This would help weed out any fraudulent accounts. It also protects your company from any backlash that might come from associations with influencers who are more prone to drama and are considered ‘problematic.’
Following their posts helps you recognize influencers who have high-quality content that adheres to your brand’s beliefs and ideologies. It helps you identify those influencers who have a higher quality of content.
If the influencer has partnered up with brands that are very similar to your before, the influencer is likely a right fit for you.
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BUILDING A MARKETING STRATEGY
For many people investing in influencer marketing tends to be a gamble with no real benefits but there are methods you can follow that increase your chances of success. There are three parts to building a strong marketing strategy:
- Setting concrete goals
- Choosing and running great campaigns
- Framing a method to record the ROI effectively
Any marketing process that doesn’t start with setting clear goals is set up to fail. There are several things you can achieve by using influencers to market your product like,
- Brand awareness
- Building a brand identity
- More audience engagement
- Increased sales
- Building a lead generation
- More customer loyalty
- Getting more links that redirect people to your site
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It is not likely that a single influencer deal gets you all these benefits, and expecting it to happen puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on your influencer. Therefore, it is important to set realistic goals.
Take into consideration the things your company needs the most from the list above and try to form your goals around them.
Once you have set your goals, it is time to build a campaign. There are many types of campaigns you can uptake. Some examples are listed below:
- Gifting: Giving free products to influencers in exchange for an unboxing video, review, or a mention. This way your product gets exposed directly to an audience.
- Guest Posting: This is the most common campaign seen amidst the bloggers. Offering to create guest content for the influencer acts as a two-way marketing system.
- Sponsored Content/Product Placement: This is the most common campaigning method and involves paying the influencer to advertise your product in their content videos. You may also offer to collaborate to co-create content with the influencer.
- Influencer takeover: Allowing an influencer you trust to take over your social media accounts for some time.
- Contests and giveaways: Run a giveaway or contest and ask influencers to let their audience know about it. This creates some buzz around your brand as well as increases public engagement with your posts. The conditions for winning a giveaway should be straightforward (likes, follows, shares, reposts, etc.) The product that is to be won must also be especially interesting enough to catch people’s attention. typically, this would be the product with the highest demand.
- Affiliates: Providing a unique code that gives influencers a percentage of every sale they drive.
- Discount codes: Give influencers distinct discount codes that they can promote to their audience.
- Brand ambassadors: Forming long-term relationships with loyal brand fans who are willing to mention your brand, products, and services in return for free products, exclusive offers, or featured sponsorship.
- Social Media mentions: Used with larger influencers like celebrities. Paying the influencer to mention your brand or product in their social media accounts.
It is important to balance the original content with the sponsored content. One guaranteed method that works is the jab-jab-jab-right hook, where jabs are original content and right hooks are sponsored. Always remember that when it comes to sponsored content, less is more.
It is important to track your campaigns and record their ROI. This helps you identify which deals are benefitting you and hence, which influencers you should continue investing in. Depending on the results, you should then, reframe your marketing strategy to further increase ROI.
Keep a record of who reaches out to which influencers, and details about these interactions. Assign people to manually follow up on every deal as specific tools for tracking influencer deals are very few and not that reliable as of now.
There are also very few tools to help record the returns of partnerships. One way to record ROI from influencer deals is by deploying specific codes on the landing pages of different influencers.
MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER
The ultimate goal is to build meaningful bonds with your influencer for long-term benefits. It is crucial to trust your influencers to meet your requirements. However, blind trust is also harmful. We must trust, but also verify.
To make partnerships equal, fair remuneration is essential. Providing less payment than due is a huge mistake and hinders bonds. The right amount of remuneration is decided by the scope of the project, quality, length, etc.
Building a bond with your target audience is equally important. Always be transparent with your business deals and partnerships. Make sure your influencer follows proper guidelines and tags their posts with #ad, #sponsored, etc.
Influencers are now a permanent part of marketing culture. However, the influencer marketing game is ever-changing. It is essential to stay aware of the latest trends and fluctuations in the popularity of various platforms as well as the influencers themselves. It requires a specific nuance and grit to stay on top of this game. The only path to guaranteed success is forming meaningful long-term bonds with the influencers you are working with.
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