Our clients think it’s not enough to have a social media marketing or content marketing campaign. More and more companies are realizing the inadequacy of the commonly implemented approaches in digital marketing. People are hiding ads. They are also dubious about brands marketing themselves on social media. Does this mean we should just stop marketing altogether? No. It means we have to change our strategies and find out who people pay attention to.
Consumers generally have stopped paying attention to brands and their advertisers. To them, these people are notorious for selling crap. Sorry about that. That’s why we have ad blockers.
What about content marketing and social media marketing? These are still good practices coupled with email marketing and SEO. However, the challenge nowadays is tapping into huge networks. You see, social media has become a hub for celebrities and influencers and their followers. If you’re neither, then you’re merely part of the lesser folks messing around in the outskirts of the social media empires.
How do we deal with such huge networks? Do we compete with them? No! You’ll try to market to them instead. This is in a crude sense influencer marketing. It sounds like a new thing in the digital marketing circle, but really we’ve been doing it for several years.
Influencer marketing is about finding key people in your niche. They are those who have substantial number of followers, enjoy massive reach, and see lots of engagement on their pages. The alternative is to become an influencer yourself, and you’ll have to wait for years. If you’re struggling to gain visibility right now, it makes sense to seek help from people who are already enjoying wide visibility on places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Mind you, there are lots of social sites out there.
You can think of influencer marketing in different ways. It’s like increasing your own network by borrowing other networks through influencers who keep them. It’s also like borrowing influence to gain more reach and engagement. It’s also working with influencers to market your brand.
Most influencers are writers and vloggers. They may be professionals, specialists, business people, marketers, and so on. But people discover them because of their content. People gravitate towards them because they share relevant and fun content. Influencers keep their followers by engaging with them and developing rapport and quasi friendships. These are marketers on their own turf and in their own terms.
Influencer marketing involves targeting, wherein you look for relevant influencers, people who are not just popular but also have authority in your niche. So your favorite sports star may not be the best option even if he has 10 million Twitter followers. Why? His audience are not your audience. See? You have to look for key people in your industry because their audience is your audience, too. They just have to discover you yet.
Marketing with influencers is hardly ever free even if you don’t shell out huge funds to keep bloggers writing for your brand or vloggers doing reviews for your products. You may need to sacrifice your time and give services for free for collaborative work and projects. The aim, of course, is to get more people to know about your brand, get the clicks, and increase your sales.
Does it even work? We, together with 81% of marketers, think that influencer marketing is effective. 59% of brands have increased their budget for this endeavor. A little over half of the brands say they have acquired better customers.
Okay, so why is influencer marketing effective? You have to understand consumer behavior and psychology. As earlier said, they are no longer receptive to ads. They don’t trust brands. They would rather hear from other people talking about your brand than from you. Consumers don’t fancy recommendations directly from your company. At least, that’s what data from Word Pro tells us.
Most of consumers (92%) prefer recommendations from anyone other than you or your advertisers and marketers. 4 in every 5 people buy stuff recommended by their social media friends. 7 in every 10 customers will think your brand is good if they read good reviews about it on social media. Half of the customers will buy your product if someone recommended it on social media, regardless of whether they know who recommended it or not.
Consumers don’t just get recommendations out of nowhere. Apparently, someone recommended a product or service because someone else had recommended it. Then you ask, who initially made such a recommendation? If you trace it all back, you’ll still find advertisers, but you’ll find more brand advocates making recommendations. The bulk of such recommendations comes from, you guess, influencers.
Unlike advertisers, influencers enjoy huge trust from their followers. Unlike average brand advocates, they have greater reach. A brand advocate can influence a few people through word of mouth marketing. An influencer can influence a huge crowd. That’s essentially why he or she is called an influencer.
So where do we find these influencers? Influencers love engagement. They stay where there is a huge number of people who engage with them. What else comes to mind aside from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn? These are places where you find the bulk of active social media users. Hence, these are where you will find brands and influencers. Facebook, for instance, is still a powerful platform for marketers. Facebook campaigns led to 52% of purchases, both online and offline, in 2015.
Once you identify them, your next concern is how to reach them. A lot of companies have trouble in this case. They hesitate. They make wrong offers. They treat social media influencers like advertisers. You can do many things. Start following them. Make your presence felt by liking and sharing their content. Write honest comments on their posts.
Once they notice you, it’s time to be a little more friendly. Start conversations. Introduce yourself. Then ask them to try your product and service. It’s your decision whether you’ll give out free samples or free service for them. You may give them special promos and discounts. You’re doing this for two reasons. One, you’re giving them more reason to try your brand. Two, they will hesitate to post negative feedback if they don’t like it because they got it for free or as a promo.
Another way to connect with an influencer is to collaborate with them on a project that will earn them more following and engagement. It can be a contest, a special event for a cause, a business tour, or any fun activity you both and your followers will enjoy.
Influencer marketing is undeniably effective. It perfectly complements other forms of marketing. When done properly, it delivers results. Contact us if you have questions or if you want to take your brand to the next level with the help of influencers.