Blog—Exposing the Truth About Influencer Marketing
As social media platforms take over people's time, digital marketers must find creative ways to entertain and hold the attention of their audience. Influencer marketing has become very prevalent within a wide range of industries, boosting brand awareness and credibility for companies along the spectrum. In 2016, a joint study was conducted by Twitter and the analytics firm Annalect, found that 49% of users surveyed rely on influencer marketing. Many companies have noticed the impact that celebrities and influencers have on their consumers, and quickly jump to build relationships with those who maintain the constant interest of thousands to millions of users.
Influencer marketing can be very beneficial when your goals are to improve brand awareness and to drive purchasing decisions within your industry. But with all the good influencer marketing can produce, it can also become a money pit if utilized incorrectly. From a study conducted in 2014, shows that 92% of consumers credit recommendations from their friends or family over all forms of advertising. As a consumer you are more likely to go check out that new restaurant that is recommended by your friend than an ad you happen to come across. As influencer marketing expands among different platforms, it has been proven that consumers are becoming more familiar with those influencers they trust, welcoming and often expecting their feedback and criticisms of brands as well. Fame is fleeting, so to see results for your brand you must strategically choose someone who knows how to remain relevant. People will turn to those who they can relate with or inspire to be. Advertisers are noticing this and have been taking advantage by communicating their message through those who have repeatedly shown evidence of a loyal following. This is even more effective in a niche market if an authority figure within a brands industry shares content praising what your company can provide to them or the public.
As you introduce users to your brand through influencers, it is critical to be mindful of the credibility and reputation of the creators you are working with. Forbes claims that 86% of marketers have used influencer marketing during 2019, but as those numbers begin to rise, it is vital that marketers understand who the right or wrong influencer is to represent their brand.
Many platforms have become oversaturated with influencer and celebrity endorsements. People can tell whether someone is genuine or just in it for fame and glory. A study from Bazaarvoice reports that 47% of consumers are tired of influencer content that appears inauthentic, and 62% believe that influencer endorsements take advantage of an impressionable audience (Social Media Today, 2018). Some influencers tend to jump from product to product just for quick cash, and consumers will notice these things. Be mindful of influencers who are prone to do this and decide whether they are the right fit for your brand.
Also keep in mind, follower count is only a number, there are a lot of details to consider when looking for an influencer to work with. Be aware of those "influencers" who purchase followers, or who have a high proportion of 'bots' that make up their follower count. Utilizing follower tools like HypeAuditor or IG Audit can help you to quickly identify frauds. Influencer marketing has immense reach and visibility because you are reaching the thousands of consumers following their accounts at one time, but also circumventing obstacles like, ad blockers and the loathing of general advertisement by users. Managing your brand's reputation is everything. Once you're no longer writing the narrative sales & brand loyalty can decline. The authenticity of influencers can impact conversions and sales at scale, as well. Negative opinions of influencers you work with can also impact your brand's image and the value that a consumer places on your product/services, once this occurs it can be a very long & drawn out process to rebuild this trust with the customer.
How to Utilize Influencers:
More than any other generation, Gen Z and Millennials are widely present on social media networks. About 85% of Gen Z users turn to social media to learn about new products. Oftentimes, influencers are given exclusive access to new products directly from companies before they are available to the public. Consumers will be more interested if they recognize someone supporting it and are more inclined to research it for themselves. Try considering working with "nano-influencers" (25,000 followers or less) as their audience consists of a more tight-knit community who closely value their content.
If this is the approach you and your brand choose to take, this is the best opportunity to set the foundation for the initial impression of that new product. These smaller creators are often just excited to be working with a brand in the first place, an excitement that is often passed along to their audience. Building a campaign with a specific narrative for your brand to be portrayed by the influencer(s) of your choice should be carefully thought out and reviewed by your standards. Simply put, lay everything out for the influencer, simplify their process as much as possible and provide them guidelines to follow. Typically as the influencer' audience gets bigger you'll be dealing with more professional influencers who need less guidance, however, having your narrative and strategy in place will ensure things go smoothly.
Influencer marketing is a long-term investment where you must implement a trust between your brand and consumers, while building trust between influencers and your brand. In the past, when companies outsourced their projects on a campaign to campaign basis with different influencers resulted in short-term and fleeting relationships. Maintaining these relationships saves a brand time, expense, and effort of searching for a new selection of influencers for each campaign. The biggest take away from all this should be, choose wisely and maintain that long-term relationship with your influencers and consumers. In the same token, cut out the fluff. Building rapport with influencers creates strong and lasting partnerships that drive long-term results.