Influencer marketing is as new as the concept of selling itself. Marketers have been trying to find ways to incorporate the power of word of mouth to sell a product or a service. Before digital took over the lives of people by storm, celebrity endorsement was the only kind of influencer marketing that existed. With time, the nature of influence has changed.
But the challenge is, who do we identify as an influencer? How can marketers measure and quantify the influence? Is there a benchmark to qualify as an influencer? Do we look at Klout score, number of followers or net worth? Contrary to popular belief, a celebrity isn’t always synonymous with influence anymore. In fact, a mere 18% percent of those surveyed under a sophisticated study consider a well-known celebrity an influencer. The biggest concern amongst marketers today is competing with other brands in the race to secure the most famous influencers for their campaigns or having a loyal base of influencers. Marketers should make a note that identifying suitable brand advocates, communicating openly with them, and predicting their behaviour cannot be overstated.
How do you choose the right influencers for your brand?
With the plethora of digital possibilities, this type of native advertising is gaining increased attention amongst popular brands. Alongside, big mistakes are waiting to happen in this vast market of digital influencers. Choosing a person to tell your story makes careful selection and research imperative.
Define Your Objectives: A key mistake that marketers make when selecting their influencers is looking at reach as the only scale of measurement. Invariably, reach is a strong factor in choosing the influencer for your brand, but marketers tend to overlook the fact that influencers have much more to give to a brand. They are excellent content creators, they made their success from being creative and they know exactly what engages the target audience that follows them. Identify your campaign goals before you begin and include considerations that focus on an influencer’s key strengths like engaging the audience, driving traffic to a website and increasing outreach and fans for your brand.
Research: The most important part of the process of identifying the right influencer is doing your research right. Influencer marketing is beyond choosing the top five influencers in your category or the first five that agree to promote your campaign. As a marketer, you want to look further at the influencer’s platforms, content themes, past brand collaborations, tone-of-voice etc. If you are an Android-only brand, you don’t want to get on board an influencer who has been observed to support iOS rigorously in the past. The whole point is, marketers should make sure they invest adequate time towards looking at the individual influencers past content and stories. Understanding what content their followers engage with most, what they feel about your industry and category and their past successful campaigns help shortlist to a finer level. It is also possible that influencer has mentioned interest for your brand in the past independently which increases your chances towards true evangelism!
Influencer Criteria: Influencers are typically known for specific topics or categories they evangelise and gain engagement based on that. Mapping out the relevant context for your brand is essential to improving relevance in the target audience. The standard categories such as fashion, parenting, food, gadgets can be helpful, but building deeper influencer criteria will give you more value for your investment. Lancôme India has built influencer relationships over the past few years through a detailed analysis and short listing of the growing base of influencers.
The Story: The most imperative part of influencer marketing is finding the story and that one connecting reference between the brand and the influencer. Many brands get it wrong when they construct messages for the influencers to communicate to the larger crowd instead of trusting them with customising content they know would do well amongst their followers. There is a fine line between telling an influencer what to post, and creating an inspiring branded story that leaves enough space for individual creativity. According to the history of influencer marketing, the latter often gives the best results. JW Marriott Bengaluru invites lifestyle and food influencers at regular intervals to experience the property and empowers them to curate content for their Instagram account independently. It is all about finding the centrifugal spot where brand, influencer and topicality meet.
The key to success in leveraging influencer marketing to its full potential is realizing and respecting the fact that your influencers are not just digital platforms that you buy into with a branded message. They are individuals with a creative mind and an opinion that matters to thousands of followers. They hold the power to create a positive and trustworthy story around your brand and potentially increase brand preference among their audience in the long run.
The article is penned by Zafar Rais, Founder & CEO, MindShift Interactive.