Over 84% of marketers interviewed in a 2016 survey said influencer marketing campaigns are increasing brand awareness and engagement for their companies. With a claimed $6.50 return for every dollar spent, it’s not surprising $570 million was spent on influencer Instagram campaigns alone last year. Social media consumption is showing no sign of slowing down, well planned and executed Influencer marketing campaigns are proving a powerful strategy when approached correctly.
What is influencer marketing?
In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with advertising, we’re becoming adept at glazing over banner ads on websites and expertly skipping magazine or newspaper ads. Everything we see and hear is a design promoting something.
We might see 100 ads for a new restaurant and fail to act on a single one. As soon as someone we know recommends we go there, we’re already working out what we’re going to wear.
Influencer marketing works in much the same way. Marketers seek out the influencers who are a trusted figure for large numbers of their target market, and encourage them (both paid and unpaid) to spruke or review their product on their blogs and social channels. It can be a fast and cost effective way to gain credibility, awareness and conversions. It can also be hideously expensive. Fancy forking out over $250K for Kim Kardashian to post an Instagram photo?
Hiring celebrities to endorse products is nothing new. The difference is, influencer marketing content is created by the influencer, not the brand. It is deemed to be a more authentic marketing approach.
If you’re on social media, or subscribed to a blog, you’re seeing spectacular influencer marketing campaigns every day and may not even realise it.
Examples of influencer marketing campaigns
Boxed Water sell water in sustainable packaging and have strong environmental brand values. They teamed up with the National Forest Foundation and developed the #ReTree Project. The company aim to plant 1 million trees over five years. For every Instagram post featuring Boxed Water and using the #ReTree, they’ll plant two trees. Subscribe to their newsletter and they’ll plant two trees. Purchase Boxed Water online, they’ll plant six trees. The company reached out to famous Instagram influencers to post in support of their campaign. Influencers such as Julianne Hough and Alyssa Milano jumped on the Boxed Water wagon in support. So far, over 612,000 trees have been planted in the US.
Buick thought outside the box for their influencer marketing campaign. They worked with well known Pinfluencers (Pinterest Influencers) on creating a modern image for their new luxury car model. Instead of seeking out influencers in the vehicle industry, they approached those in the fields of design and style to showcase the brand from a fresh perspective. The “Pinboard to Dashboard” campaign saw Pinfluencers sharing their creative visions of how the exterior and interior of the new luxury Buick would look on their heavily followed Pinterest boards. This promoted Buicks new model to a younger demographic, supported their luxury brand image; but also encouraged people to look at the brand with fresh eyes. The campaign resulted in over 17million followers and unique visitors across Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Needless to say, it was a success.
Steps to a successful campaign
Like everything in digital marketing, there is a method to the madness, (there really is).
Find the most influential profiles based on location, category and other demographic data. The obvious ambassador may not be the best choice. Think of your influencer as a mutual friend introducing your brand to the people you’d love to meet. There are several free research tools to help you find the perfect social influencers for your campaign.
Put careful consideration into the types of influencer marketing campaigns that will work for you AND your influencer. Your objectives should fit with their usual content so they can drive creative direction. If a post reeks of a paid promotion, they may lose credibility with their audience and you’ll both feel the sting of a backlash. You should aim to build a long term relationship with your influencer, and ensure they are compensated accordingly.
Compensation doesn’t always need to be financial. Discuss this with your influencer. Would they benefit more from reciprocal marketing, commission, products, discounts and giveaways? Be mindful that influencer posts follow the National Advertising Guidelines around disclosure for paid social media. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your budget prior to reaching out to influencers, and be honest about it.
What are the pitfalls?
For every positive there has to be a negative. Not everyone is honest about their loyal band of followers. According to CNN approx 83 million Facebook accounts are fake. It’s no secret well known people have been caught ‘purchasing’ followers in the past. The best advice we can offer is to put less emphasis on the number of followers your influencer boasts, and more focus on the engagement they have with their audience. The more they actively engage with your target, the more impact they will have.
Loss of content control
An influencer campaign is not about hiring someone to do an ad. It should allow influencers a good degree of creative freedom to ensure they present your product or brand in their own way. That is what makes it appeal to their audience. Of course this comes with a degree of risk as you don’t have complete control over the content. Weigh up the pros and cons. Ensure your influencer has a clear outline of your brand story and your campaign goals.
Influencer fall from grace
Associating your brand image with an an Influencer is risky business if they take a sudden tumble. PewDiePie was one of the biggest in the video world with over 54 million YouTube subscribers. That’s more than Apple Music, The New York Times, and Hulu combined. With a following like that you’d imagine he’d be quite the influence. Unfortunately for any brands that tried to leverage that, PewDiePie was the subject of major controversy when people increasingly complained of both hidden, and blatant, anti-semitic content within his videos. Disney’s Maker Studios cut ties, YouTube cancelled season two of his streaming reality show, and he was dropped from Google’s Preferred Advertising Program. Ouch. Breathe an easy sigh that you weren’t tied up with the ‘Pie’.
What’s our take?
We support all advances and innovation in social media marketing strategies. There are no guarantees in any campaign, that’s what makes it so exciting and rewarding when a marketing manoeuvre takes off on a digital sprint. If you’ve taken careful steps, considered possible risks and have clearly defined objectives, why not give it a go?
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