When it comes to establishing an online presence and expanding their reach via social media, many Aussie businesses swear by the power of influencer marketing. Like most forms of advertising, influencer marketing has its benefits - but there isn’t a one size fits all solution that works for every business. In fact, a lot can go wrong when influencer campaigns are planned by inexperienced marketers. In our upcoming posts, we want to lay the groundwork for successful influencer co-operations. To change things up, we’ll start with the pitfalls of influencer marketing and recommendations on how to avoid them, paired with a few spicy examples of just how wrong things can go!
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing refers to brands collaborating with online personalities to market their products or services or improve brand recognition. Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular forms of advertising for brands across all industries. As the “digital generation” Gen Z comes of age, businesses are increasingly looking for new ways to connect with consumers whose spending habits vary drastically from older generations. Influencer marketing appears to fit the bill. Social media is the prime environment for brands looking to connect with consumers. A combination of old and new marketing tools, influencer marketing mixes content-driven campaigns with social proofing strategies. Comparable to celebrity endorsements and word-of-mouth, marketers put their faith in our human tendency to trust our peers and role models, even if we’ve never met them in person or off the screen.
What is an influencer?
The term ‘influencer’ can be defined as a person with the power to affect the purchase decisions of their considerably large online following. Influencers often have a following in a distinct niche and most would not consider themselves a celebrity in the traditional way. But why do influencers have such power? Usually, we follow social media influencers because we share a common interest. Oftentimes, they are people we look up to, and who we could imagine being friends with in real life. But we don’t need to meet them or know them on a personal level, to trust their opinion. Ruthie Nathan from AdMass Inc put it this way: “It’s not about who they are, it’s about who they are to us”. Researching the behaviour of consumers following online influencers, she concluded that most people followed influencers for a combination of the following reasons:
- We are interested in the content they share
- We are looking to be entertained
- We want to relate and seek authenticity
- We are looking for inspiration
Due to the special relationship between influencers and their audience, this type of marketing can be extremely effective. If a consumer is recommended a product or service by someone they respect and admire, maybe even look up to, they are much more likely to purchase it. For many brands, establishing relationships with influential people who can amplify and expand the visibility of their products and services across social media, becomes more and more relevant.
The Difference Between Micro, Macro and Mega Influencers
- Micro-influencers: 1,000 - 100,000 followers
Micro-influencers usually have a locally based following. With their lower follower count, they’re often more relatable and highly connected to their audience. That means that their recommendations can potentially have a much higher impact on their audience. This, in turn, makes them great partners for local, small businesses that want to boost sales and build strong relationships.
- Macro influencers: 100,000 - 1 million followers
Macro-influencers take things to the next level: Having gained their ‘fame’ on the internet, they are often experts in content creation, across multiple platforms. Social media is most likely their full-time job, which means that the prices you pay for partnering with them can be hefty. They still provide a targeted audience, however, less so than micro-influencers. Constantly filming and updating their followers on their life events, can leave them a little out of touch with their audience - there are simply too many for them to engage with in meaningful ways. The number of products and suggestions they have can at times be overwhelming and seem inauthentic.
- Mega influencers: 1 million + followers
Mega influencers are usually A list celebrities that are famous for reasons other than social media - think Beyonce or Kim Kardashian. These people have a huge reach but do not provide the targeted audience other influencer categories do. The cost of purchasing their advertising power is extreme. Some celebrities charge USD$1 million for a single Instagram post.
Influencer Marketing: What Mistakes Do Brands Make?
With influence and power comes great responsibility, small margins for error, and the potential to make big mistakes. So, what could go wrong? We’re glad you asked...
- Choosing the wrong influencer for the brand
It’s one of the first, big mistakes businesses make when partnering with influencers. An influencer is more than a model advertising a product or service for you. They are, after all, a brand of their own. You should think of the collaboration with an influencer as a partnership - as opposed to hiring a face for advertising purposes. If you had to choose a new business partner, you wouldn’t just pick anyone, would you? You’d want someone who aligns with your brand values, ethics, and identity. So, do your research and ask the right questions before you sign a contract.
- Choosing an influencer based on the number of followers they have.
Just because they have a large following, an influencer isn’t necessarily the best pick for you. This closely relates to the point we made above. But more so, influencers with smaller audiences usually have much higher engagement rates than those with a followership in the millions. Choosing an influencer with a smaller, more connected group, can open you to a more specific target group - one that trusts their influencer and is much more likely to action what is being conveyed.
- Identifying an influencer based on the wrong target audience.
It is important to know your target audience well, and that of the influencer, too. Ideally, they should be very similar. You also need to make sure that their attitude and values do not seriously compromise your brand identity.
Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong
Reality TV star Scott Disick copied and pasted the exact instructions written to him for an Instagram ad: “Here you go, at 4 pm est, write the below. Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!”. This comes across as disingenuous and very out of touch with his audience. It appears staged and most likely had the opposite effect of what was supposed to.
Another poorly thought-through influencer collaboration: A Pepsi advertising campaign involving Kendall Jenner caused major hiccups in 2017, being insensitive to political unrests and the “Black lives matter” movement. The video ad showed Jenner handing officers at a demonstration canned Pepsi Cola, making her the heroine of the day. In reality, Pepsi and the white supermodel minimised the dangers real protesters face and trivialised the “Black lives matter” movement.
Fyre Festival has to be one of the biggest influencer fails of all time: Influencers aggressively advertised a festival on an island in the Bahamas. It ended up being a complete scam: There was no festival at all and the people that made it to the island found themselves stranded, camping in the middle of nowhere. About 63 mega influences were involved in the Fyre festival advertising campaign, including Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Emily Ratajkowski. As a result, influencer advertising is now heavily regulated.
How Do You Pick The Right Influencer For Your Brand?
If you want to include influencer marketing in your advertising efforts, you need to carefully consider who you partner with - and why.
- Understand Engagement Rates
Remember us talking about micro and macro influencers a moment ago? Micro influencers with 1,000 to 100,000 followers commonly have higher engagement rates on average, no matter their genre, niche and target audience. That means 5 branded posts by an influencer with 20,000 followers, can be worth more than 1 post from an influencer with 500,000 fans. They’ll probably also cost you a lot less money overall and end up reaching more people in meaningful ways.
- Know Your Goals
- Brand awareness
If your brand is new on the market and you’re looking to grow brand awareness, go for someone with a larger following. Choose a micro influencer at the upper end of the scale, or a macro influencer with a broader audience. At the beginning of your business venture, this will increase awareness, later on, you can delve into specifics and leverage more targeted audiences.
- Product sales
Once you know your target audience, choose a smaller micro influencer with a high engagement rate. Your credo should be: Quality over quantity, always. The audiences of smaller influencers will trust their suggestions and be more likely to action their recommendations.
Wrapping it up
Over the years we’ve learned that giving your influencers a little creative freedom is often the best way to build genuine relationships - it also helps avoid Scott Disick-like fiascos. Carefully choose your collaborators, and then let them communicate with their followers the way they know works best. Work with your influencer rather than just giving them a task. Trust that they will do a good job at getting your message across. This also makes posts much more genuine and relatable.If you’re just getting started on your social media journey and need a helping hand to strategise and set up your first campaign, get in touch with the experts at Anchor Digital and follow us on Instagram for more insights and inspiration.