Influencer Marketing – the What, the Why & the How!
What is Influencer Marketing?
Today, in the vast world of marketing, we hear a lot of talk about Influencers and how they are taking several brands to the apex of their industries. It’s always nice to hear such stories. But, did you care to think what that is? It’s actually a way deeper concept and it’s been in practice for centuries. You must be thinking that “What BS? Centuries? Are you kidding me?” Technically, yes. It is. Allow me to explain.
Before diving into influencer marketing, let us ask ourselves a question. Who is an influencer? Influencer Analysis defines an Influencer as, “Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumer groups, industry associations or community tribes. Influencers may or may not be aware of your company, but represent control of an audience segment that is important to your business.”
Simply speaking, Influencers are basically those people who you listen to. That’s it. Your mother or your husband or your wife (always is :D) can be your influencer. They drive you to do things. They are the ones who influence other people. Great leaders are terrific Influencers as well. They make people go berserk of things which otherwise they wouldn’t care about.
Now, do you understand my reason to say that it’s been around for centuries? Yes. “Influencers” are not new. They have just surfaced again with a whole new style and attitude (oh yeah)!
Now, let’s dive into “Influencer Marketing”. What is exactly is it? You might have read a lot of articles and watched a good number of videos on this. I’ll try to make it as simple as possible so that you don’t need to use your grey cells much to understand and comprehend it.
Tap Influence defines it as, “Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using online leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay Influencers to get out the word for you.” It is a very simple definition. But, let me make it even simpler for you.
In Influencer Marketing, you hire an “Influencer” from the same industry as yours and ask them to talk about you or your company to his/her followers. It’s as simple as that.
At MGW, we also refer to Influencer Marketing as “Referral Marketing” (MGW didn’t patent this, though). Now, why do we call it so? Let’s take a simple example. Today, while travelling to an amusement park, you saw a huge billboard of Samsung LED TV. Also, you were looking around to buy a nice TV for your new apartment you bought a month back. You Googled this Samsung LED TV. You got to know about it. At that very moment, you get a call from your best friend. You start yapping with him. You ask him about which TV to buy (we always seek advice; human nature. :D). He referred you to buy the new Panasonic LED TV. He also bought it a couple of months back and it’s awesome. So which one would you buy? 90% chances that you’d buy the Panasonic LED TV. Why? Isn’t it obvious? You’ve just been influenced by your best friend and he referred you something. You trust him. That is why you’re likely to buy the Panasonic and not the Samsung.
You can give it any fancy name you like. But, the concept remains intact. The trust that you have in your best friend motivated you to buy the Panasonic TV and not the Samsung TV; this is what “Influencer Marketing” is all about. It can be done on a small scale where your friend motivates you to do something or it can be on a much larger scale where a renowned person takes your brand to the next level by referring you to his/her thousands of followers.
Why Influencer Marketing is Important?
There must thousands of questions lurking in your mind after knowing what influencer marketing is. Questions like, ‘Does Influencer Marketing work?’, ‘Is Influencer Marketing a fad?’, ‘What is the future of Influencer Marketing?’
I’ll to try to answer all of them in the 2nd part of this article, i.e. ‘Why Influencer Marketing is Important?’
Think about the example from above. You will definitely prefer to buy Panasonic if you’re going to buy one. Needless to say, Influencer Marketing does work. Question is, to what extent?
Let’s me skip the BS and go straight to Statistics. Yeah, numbers people. That’s what everyone likes, right? Tap Influence did an extensive research on the reach and viability of Influencer Marketing.
They came up with the following:
>> Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.
>> Only 14% of people can recall the last time they saw an ad and identify the offer it was promoting.
>> 73% of marketers say that they have allocated budget for influencer marketing.
>> 73% of Millennial see it as their responsibility to guide friends, peers, and family toward smart purchase decisions.
>> 71% of marketers believe that ongoing ambassadorships are the most effective form of influencer marketing.
>> 49% of people say they rely on recommendations from Influencers when making purchase decisions.
>> 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an Influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube.
>> Among teens, YouTube stars are perceived as 17X more engaging and 11X more extraordinary than mainstream stars.
>> 70% of Influencers feel that the most effective way to collaborate with brands is through an influencer marketing platform.
From the above statistics, you can easily conclude the power of referral marketing or influencer marketing.
Apart from the above statistics there are 3 solid reasons why Influencer Marketing works:
1. Trust Factor:
If you’re being recommended by your girlfriend/boyfriend to buy a particular brand of perfume, you won’t think much or go on researching about it. You’ll just go over and buy it. Or at least, try it. That’s the power of an Influencer. You trust your gf/bf. Trust is already built even before you have seen the product. Now, imagine this being done by an Instagram fashion influencer who has around 800,000 followers. Can you approximate how many out of the 800k would go and try it? I’ll bet that’ll be good number.
2. Improvement in Brand Image:
Through Influencers, you can cover a wide range of your audience in a very short period of time. When an Influencer in your niche talks about your brand in a way that merges with their original content, the audience interacts with it way more than paid promotions. Let’s be honest. We don’t like Ads. We practically disgust them when we’re trying to read a blog, download a song, seeing a video. However, an influencer can change the game altogether. It will be a regular content on their channel. But the catch is that they will camouflage your brand within their content. It’ll not only be entertaining but will have a far more reach than normal paid Ads.
3. Cost Effective:
A massive advantage that Influencer Marketing enjoys over others is in the context of pricing. This mode of marketing doesn’t have a fixed pricing model. It varies with niches, Influencers, countries, etc. A small influencer who caters to a micro-niche might not charge as much as the one who is a ‘celebrity’ in the same niche but catering to a larger audience and a broader perspective. Most Influencers agree to performance-based pricing model. In fact, it is seen that marketing departments of various MNCs saw a 36% less spend on marketing after hiring niche-based Influencers.
I guess that explains why you should trust Influencer Marketing as an apt strategy to grow your brand and why you should implement it. The power of Influencer Marketing is here to stay and is ever increasing. If you want to inculcate this form of marketing, you do it now. It’s not that crowded yet and because of its own set of unique offerings, it can be your trump card in your marketing strategy. Remember, your content should always have an emotional connect with your audience as is always preached by Hubspot Academy. To enhance that appeal, an influencer can be very handy. They already have an established connect with their numerous followers and you can simply leverage it.
How to Implement Influencer Marketing?
You might have read tons of ways to go about doing it. It is true. There are a lot of ways to implement influencer marketing and different companies use it differently. Brands often follow a trial and error method to figure out which one is the best for them. That’s absolutely fine but only for those companies who can afford it – the million dollar or billion dollar companies. SMEs and Startups simply can’t do that. They have limited funds and resources; they need the best bang for the buck.
I’ve tried to make it simple and list it down in a few steps for easy implementation.
Here are 4 Steps to implement influencer marketing for your company:
1) Identify Target Audience & KPIs:
These two are the very first elements of a successful influencer marketing campaign. You must know who your audience is and define it perfectly. Otherwise, you might be wasting your money targeting the wrong people. Next, determine the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your campaign. Your KPI might be different from your competitor. You might want more followers to your Instagram profile while your competitor might want 100,000 video views on their recently launched Ad on the digital media. Your KPI will determine the audience you target and the Influencers you choose; each influencer has their own unique USP (Unique Selling Point).
2) Choose the Perfect Platform:
Choosing the right platform is of utmost importance. You need to have a clear understanding of all the platforms first as well as find out where your potential audience is engaging the most. You can’t just go all out and focus on multiple platforms at the same time. It can be done but it is recommended to aim for that particular platform where you’re confident to find your audience there.
3) Find the Correct Influencers:
After you’ve successfully completed the above two, it’s time to find the right Influencers. Influence is very much subjective, so you need to search for those who have been producing content that aligns with your business and your customer’s decisions. Make sure your brand is something they’re interested to talk about. You have to do a lot of groundwork before you can approach an Influencer. Your brand should have at least started creating similar level of content that the Influencers are generating on a daily basis.
4) Engage & Measure:
Once you’ve decided on your Influencers, make sure you regularly engage with them. Engaging pretty much means that you treat them like the King or Queen of your country. Let them tell you what kind of content is more interactive. Let them tell you what kind of content you should be making in order to attract the majority of the crowd. Also, partake in activities that the Influencer expects you to. Bottom-line is that you need to please your Influencer (s). Once you do that, they will do the same. Simultaneously, you need to measure your KPIs after an Influencer is on-board. For example, you might see that the rate of the number of followers increasing every week has increased from 10 to 22 per week and that the number of un-followers has decreased from 4 per day to 0.5 per day.
If you’ve read this entire article minutely, I can assure you that the concept of Influencer Marketing should be clear by now. No matter what anyone says, Influencer Marketing is not a fad and it is here to stay. The earlier you realize this, the better it is for you and your company.
Care to watch a video? Here’s one by SkipMBA that I personally recommend. The video explains the basics of Influencer Marketing and how it’s helpful.
Also, if you want to know the basics of Instagram Marketing and the use of hashtags, then you can watch this Video on the same: