In a world wherein the landscape of traditional marketing is in constant flux, influencer marketing has evolved from being a relatively niche space, to something far more accessible and mainstream. The now regularly adopted approach is boundlessly redefining the way that consumers are presented with brands and products - in turn, creating exponential sales, growth, and ROI for marketing budgets.
But what is influencer marketing?
When put simply, this buzzword term describes the identification and research of influential people to promote sales via their social and online platforms. It's a strategy that most people with an Instagram or Facebook account will have encountered (and perhaps engaged with) first-hand. And what better time to implement influencer marketing than now? According to 2017 Tap Influence research, 74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions. Yup, you read it right. This staggering statistic reflects the continuously developing relationship between social media and sales.
It's a well-known fact that celebrities have endorsed products and brands for decades. Whether it's Charlie Sheen's face plastered onto a Wheaties cereal box, or Jennifer Aniston's alongside a luxurious-looking bottle of smart water, influencer marketing with mega influencers has been in operation for quite some time. However, thanks to the ever-increasing accessibility of social platforms and creative tools in today's digital-crazed culture, the role of the influencer can be mastered by more 'regular' people. Kim Kardashian isn’t the only one who can promote sugar bear hair pills (do they actually work though?!). Download apps such as HUJI or Mashable will get your pics looking all sleek and 90's, so you're already halfway there to attracting a solid set of followers.
Okay, that statement is hyperbolic. The creation of an Instagram account does not automatically result in millions of followers and endorsement opportunities. However, it is undeniable that more and more people (when granted the correct platform, tools and strategy), are now able to build a social following with authentic content.
Micro, Macros, Mega
As well as the renowned buzzword (influencer marketing) itself, you may also have heard of the terms: micro, macro and mega when describing an influencer's degree of influence.
Micro: Less than 100k followers, smaller reach, lower investment.
Macro: Over 100k followers, high reach, more expensive, but less authentic in their promotion of brands (do they actually use or engage with the products/brands that they are promoting?).
Mega: Millions of followers (think your Kardashians). Mega influencers are of celebrity status, and costs for their time plus engagement are generally extreme.
In all honesty, these terms are not set-in-stone, biblical terms, categorised by specific data or characteristics. Of course, it is not difficult to grasp the notion that figures such as Beyonce or Bieber are significantly more influential than your average fitness fanatics with followings just short of 100K. However, as long as you develop a strategy with your chosen influencer, and ensure that they possess similar values to your brand, it is likely that you will experience commendable success with 'micro' and 'macro' influencers (for when you can't get Queen B on the phone).
Choosing your influencer
There are several factors to consider when choosing your influencer, and a lot of these can be considered at a personal level. Do you as an individual like the aesthetic of the account in question? Does this account have organic or bought followers? There are also broader, more objective considerations to make surrounding the cost of the influencer and their level of appropriate content production. Are you willing to adhere to an influencer's pricing scale? And are they producing healthy, inoffensive content that will bring your brand up? So. Many. Questions.
After choosing your influencer based on detailed research - it's important to think about strategy, collaboration, and content. How can you go about building a relationship between brand and influencer that benefits both parties? Short-term strategies will include unique discount codes, hashtags, and free products. Long-term strategies will be centred around an ongoing influencer partnership and social commitment. After creating your strategy - promote an influencer's content, and instil a degree of mutual trust and respect. Then, you can think about your own content creation - and how it can best be delivered onto an influencer's platform(s).
So - the key points about influencer marketing that you need to take away from here - the method is huge, and will only continue to adapt along with the limitless possibilities of marketing technology and its relationship with sales. Influencer marketing doesn't have to involve mega influencers to be successful - your choice of influencer should be based on their interaction and compatibility with your brand. And lastly, the importance of creating a relevant long-term or short-term strategy for your own content, and for the content of your influencer, cannot be understated.
Happy influencer marketing!