Influencer Marketing is still a hot topic, with more and more brands utilising the power of social media influencers in their advertising campaigns. The question is though, do they really know how to harness this influence and make the most of it in the digital landscape?
What is Influence?
Have you ever bought something after seeing someone you follow on Instagram wearing/using it? Or started using a product or service after a celebrity talked about that brand? People and brands have an influence on people’s opinions and can use this influence to impact purchasing habits. When talking about influencer marketing, we’re talking about ways to use this influence in marketing to positively impact a brand.
Who is an Influencer?
Everyone’s got some kind of influence. Someone might have a strong influence on their family when it comes to buying phones and technology because they have a long-standing interest in that area. A business owner of a small company might have a strong influence on their employees when it comes to industry related matters. In utilising influencers for marketing purposes, the same principles apply as in these examples; an influencer is someone with a strong influence that can impact the actions of their peers.
Not everyone is an influencer as per the definition when talking about influencer marketing. Celebrities are influencers and have been used since the dawn of marketing to promote products and services to the mass market. However, when we’re talking about influencer marketing today, we’re more likely to be talking about the so-called “micro-influencers” with a social media following of about 5-100K followers, who are content generators in their own right.
How Can Influencers Help Brands?
It’s quite simple really: a brand collaborates with an influencer that promotes their product/service to their audience. The influencers followers become familiar with the brand in a positive and non-intrusive way.
It’s not just about engagement and trust though. Influencers can also help brands build their own community, increase brand recognition, market share, and profit.
Reaching an audience that is already engaged with the type of topics and content you have as a brand is marketing gold. Just as targeted ads on Facebook can reach the exact audience you’re looking for in terms of interest and even job title and location, a collaboration with an influencer can see you reaching that same targeted audience. The difference? The message is coming from the brand vs. someone that the audience already know, trust, and engage with.
It’s not just about engagement and trust though. Influencers can also help brands build their own community, increase brand recognition, market share, and profit. Be that through sharing reviews and endorsements, content generation or social media campaigns, affiliate collaborations, or events – they all help the brand reach an audience of new customers it might not have been able to reach any other way.
How Can We Measure the Value and Impact of Influencers?
The impact of campaigns that involve influencers will always depend on the type of collaboration and industry. The most important thing to ensure when embarking on any work involving influencers is to make sure to pick the “right” influencers. Start with knowing who your ideal customer is or who your target audience is, then it’s all about finding the influencers who are already speaking to those people.
The second most important thing is to make sure you find influencers who follow the ASA guidelines to cover yourself from any issues. This is easily spotted by #ad or #sp in the influencers social posts that are paid for by brands.
One thing to look out for to make sure your influencer campaign is worth the effort is fake followers or fake engagement. There are easy and sophisticated ways to generate “real looking” engagement and followers that influencers and wannabe influencers use to attract work with brands. Sometimes it’s hard to spot, but a good look at the type of engagement and comments a post gets and compare them to a known influencer with a similar following should give it away.
Measuring success of a campaign involving influencers can be daunting, but there are easy ways to set up metrics to measure ROI. One easy way to measure direct sales from a campaign is to use a discount code or affiliate links. These can be specific to the different influencers involved in the campaign which will make it easier to attribute sales per influencer – important information for future collaborations.
If you’re looking to measure brand exposure, reach per platform, or geographical results, social media tracking software such as Pulsar is invaluable. Having the influencers in a campaign use a hashtag in all their posts will make it easy to track the reach of the brand message. Pulsar can also break it down per platform and/or location.
Influencers are an amazing asset for SEO as working with influencers in the right way can generate impressive results for a website in terms of organic rankings.
Google Analytics also plays an important part in measuring results from an influencer marketing campaign. It can give you a breakdown in the referral traffic from the influencers, both from their social posts and their blog posts/YouTube channels.
Don’t forget about SEO! Influencers are an amazing asset for SEO as working with influencers in the right way can generate impressive results for a website in terms of organic rankings. Involving bloggers and utilising not just their influence, but their authority as websites for backlinks is a powerful tool.
Influencers are a gateway for brands to reach audiences hungry and ready for branded content. Without using influencers in the marketing mix, brands are missing out on an opportunity to really make an impact online.
Influencer marketing doesn’t just generate fluffy metrics such as brand exposure, but tracked correctly can be attributed to sales, market share, website traffic, organic rankings, social media following and engagement.