By Nwachukwu Precious
In today’s world and marketplace, brands leverage social media to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to their websites for more return. The reason is that social media now provides the platform for brands to generate engagements around their brand, build a community of customers who are loyal to their brand, and utilize the opportunity to provide customer services to these loyal customers.
It can be inferred that influencer marketing has just emerged as a field that’s revolutionized how brands interact with buyers. While the term is new, the idea behind it is not. The 21st-century buyer sometimes seeks the opinion of people they like and respect to validate a product or service or anything for that matter. Hence, influencer marketing leverages this to create value, for brands, influencers, and the buying public. Now that brands have become increasingly aware of this potential, they have strived to redouble their marketing efforts by adopting an influencer marketing strategy. The aftermath is the demand for influencers. Influencer marketing can be a part-time job that rakes in additional income or a career for those who are willing to learn the ropes.
Influencer Marketing Defined
The term influencer marketing is being used in recent times by mainstream media to refer to a type of online marketing. However, there are those who are yet to come to terms with what influencer marketing really is. They ask “What is influencer marketing?”
This website; Hobo Video provides several articles on the basics of influencer marketing, as well as several other contents on how to grow as an influencer. For the benefit of first-time visitors to Hobo Video, we have created this article with a focus on the basics of influencer marketing: A guide for brands.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a process wherein brands collaborate with influencers to help market one or more of their products or services. In most cases, influencer marketing goes beyond that- wherein brands simply collaborate with influencers to improve their brand recognition.
Photo credit: AlterEgo360.in
Who Are Influencers?
Most importantly, influencer marketing as we have mentioned earlier is a fusion of traditional and modern marketing techniques. It exploits the idea of celebrity endorsement in driving a modern-day content-driven social media marketing campaign. Moreover, the difference in this instance is that the result of the marketing campaign brings about a sort of collaboration between influencers and brands.
Influencers, like celebrities, are everywhere. Their influence is built around their huge followership on various social media platforms. Further, an influencer may be a famous Tv host, a fashion photographer on Twitter or Instagram, a skilled food blogger with engaging tweets, or even a content writer on LinkedIn. So whatever the industry, these are all individuals who wield influence—all a brand needs to do is to find them. In addition, some of them may have thousands or even millions of fans. However, others may seem like everyday people.
Further, they may have followership of fewer than 10,000 people. Nevertheless, they have built a reputation for being professionals in their select field. They are their followers’ go-to person on issues regarding their field. Depending on their area of expertise, they create the most engaging content based on their select field. They share the best photos, videos, and handle the most educative discussions online.
In short, an influencer is a person who possesses a certain level of influence over consumers’ buying behavior. That is, he or she influences the buying decision of others due to their social status, position, or relationship with the audience.
Celebrity and Influencer
A celebrity can also be an influencer. However, an influencer is that person who has built an enthusiastic audience around a brand. It comes naturally that the audience will follow the influencer, and not the brand being represented. Indeed, the audience cares less about the brand. Further, to them what matters is the influencer’s opinion. This is why it’s totally a bad idea to foist rules on any influencer. As a result, they may just walk away and that could mean taking the audience too.
How Does Influencer Marketing Work?
There are various factors a brand must consider before embarking on social media marketing campaigns through the services of influencer marketing.
Below are some approaches to consider:
1. Be deliberate and organized, develop a strategy and a budget also do some research for the right influencer who possesses the qualities that your brand requires.
2. Decide the best approach to finding the right influencer. You can source them organically, platforms, or outsource them through an agency.
3. Be realistic and humane in your demands – remember it is people talking to people.
4. Develop a schedule.
5. Develop a flexible schedule for your influencer, see if they prefer quarterly or monthly newsletters/calls.
6. Incorporate them into your PR schedule, product release schedule, etc.
What is not Influencer Marketing?
It does not just require finding a person who has a ready audience and then offer them money or deals so they can say nice things about your brand, products, or services. Moreover, this is basically what celebrities do. On the other hand, influencers are individuals who have taken deliberate steps to build their own followership and brand; it comes naturally that they’d be more protective of their followers and reputation. They have, through years of hard work building their presence and visibility on social media, organically building their followership one after the other. Therefore, people like this are not really interested in the money, they bring more prospects to your brand. Certainly, they already understand the science of people- customers. Hence, a collaboration with such influencers will make your online marketing campaign a successful one.
Misconceptions on influencer marketing
One misconception about influencer marketing is the notion that it brings quick results. It’s the typical slow-paced approach to online and content marketing, wherein marketing campaigns are not just about selling products, but more about building a community of customers who loyal to a brand. Influencer marketing requires the ability to demonstrate leadership and authority within one’s niche. It requires more synchrony with what a brand represents, creating and sustaining a brand image and recognition.
Influencer marketing and by inclusion, social media marketing, involves a gradual process of acquiring the right kind of followers who will be loyal to the influencer and the brand by extension. Further, it might be misleading to think that by merely collaborating with an influencer, your brand will automatically win its followers over. It is really not that simple. This is due to the fact that collaborating alliance with an influencer, requires gaining their trust and respect. The big question now?
How Do I Make Influencer Marketing Work?
There is really no one-size-fits-it-all approach to finding the right influencer for your social media marketing campaigns. Each brand tailors its choice of influencer to its specific needs.
While it’s important to consider the popularity of the influencer, it is quite instructive to note here that popularity on its own does not guarantee influence. Bear in mind that your goal as a brand is to engage the audience to prompt a particular response- comments, shares, likes, and clicks. So it’s very erroneous to presume that individuals with the highest followership on social media will make the best influencer for your brand or niche.
Market to influencers
Another guide to influencer marketing is to market to influencers.
Using conventional social media marketing strategies, a brand can build its brand recognition on any social media platform it deems fitting and gradually builds its fan base, and with the passage of time, the audience will get to find out who the brand ambassadors are. Note that these ambassadors are the customers who engage comment, like, click and share posts, or even mention the brand in their shared content on social media. Customers like these can be nurtured through engagement and interaction as part of a target group of and as brand ambassadors-influencers. Therefore, by focusing efforts on these followers and market to them first, the brand is all focusing on how to keep the brand identity visible on social media platforms.
However, one major challenge here lies herein, the fact that some brand followers do not even have enough followers on their own to make that kind of huge impact. Truth is, many ordinary people on social media platforms do not care much about followership. Many of them have such a small network of less than a hundred friends and close associates altogether who represent different preferences and tastes. Meanwhile, brands strive to collect data and create engaging contents that hopefully will elicit meaningful engagements from their followers, while maintaining their daily interactions.
Unorganized approach to social media marketing
This unorganized approach to social media marketing has yielded unreliable data and erratic results. So rather than this unorganized approach to garnering likes and followership, which results in randomly throwing bits and chunks of contents just to see how it goes, influencer marketing will help the brand channel all those efforts and resources to market directly to influential people whose preferences and likes are already known, and thus align well with the brand’s offerings. This will require engaging with these followers on all their social accounts; not only by following and liking their posts, but by commenting, and demonstrating genuine knowledge of who they are and how their personality fits into the brand identity. In addition, it might require creating customized content that is specifically tailored to the needs of the influencers. Although the target here is the influencer’s followers, however, the niche for a brand includes the influencers themselves.
In the long run, this will help your brand achieve two things. By meaningfully engaging and interacting with influencers on their social media pages, you can get the opportunity to interface with their followers. Bear in mind that you’re just putting your brand in their faces without necessarily promoting anything to them. So, that way they will recognize you as part of their community, thereby adding to your credibility.
Another thing it would do for the brand is this when you eventually propose any kind of collaboration for influencer marketing with your brand, the collaboration will come naturally since by then you would have earned their acceptance. Remember influencers are really not celebrities, however, their life online can look so much like that of famous people, that is replete with so much so drama and interruptions from fans who they don’t even know; and others who struggle for their attention and time, maybe to praise them or to pitch to them.
Whatever the case, you need to sieve through all that noise and struggles for their attention to know which one can help you achieve your marketing goals. So, when you eventually extend a hand of collaboration to the influencer, you’d be doing that having considered the activity levels of their audience and the level of interaction that goes on between them and their followers.
How do I Measure Influencer Marketing Goals?
How your brand chooses to measure influencer marketing goals is relative to your online marketing goals. Therefore, this means the areas of measurement will depend on your marketing goals. However, we have compiled a list of some of the critical areas of measurement:
1. Reach (Audience)
2. Brand Impression
3. Engagements (Clicks, Shares, Likes, Comments)
4. Popular Sentiments
5. Quality of contents
6. Engagement Conversion Outcomes:
(a)Growth Levels in Followers
(b) Brand Mentions
(c) Traffic to Dedicated Websites
(d) Forms Completed
(e) Signups to Brand Newsletters and/or Subscriptions
(f) Growth in Number of Users Who Uses Tour Products / Services
(g) Increase in Sales
How Do I Run an Influencer Program?
Firstly, the important step toward successfully running an influencer marketing program for your brand is to clearly define your goals. There is a need to understand why your brand needs to embark on social media marketing through influencer marketing campaigns. Secondly, the next step is to define your target audience for the marketing campaign. For influencer marketing to achieve the desired goals, you need to collaborate with influencers who wield the right kind of influence. Influencers can be sourced manually, through platforms or agencies.