As the world has shifted its attention to social media, more and more people decide their next purchase by looking at fellow consumers, opinion leaders and important online figures. The shift is obvious in the advertising world as well: people no longer look at what the company has to say about a product, as they did in the past; instead, they rely on what their favorite social media personalities have to say, whom, in most cases, have a tremendously important role in what consumers ultimately spend their money on.
Whether we are talking about dog food, sunglasses or the best savings fund, the power of social Media influencers is growing rapidly, and many companies understand that influencer marketing is a critical component in their sales funnel for their products and services. Influencer marketing opens up completely new ways of interacting directly with potential customers, understand their desires, answer their questions and, ultimately, design the next product according to their specific needs. It’s no wonder that influencer marketing is the next big thing in marketing and everyone wants to take advantage of it.
The question, however, is how can a company effectively initiate and implement a powerful influencer marketing campaign to boost their sales and brand image? How can an advertising budget be used to ensure the best ROI? Is having a famous influencer by your side enough to lure potential customers?
The people have all the power.
This syntagm may look like it’s taken out of a high school history book, but it says a lot about how we buy almost all the things we have. Right from the beginning, the internet was designed as a way to connect individuals living thousands of miles apart. In time, the internet and how we browse it evolved: we have ad blockers, cookies and other tools that help us choose what we see and to what products we are exposed. The internet is the perfect breeding ground for communities, where we can discuss products and services with like-minded individuals. We created movements where we promote, share or shun certain products. The power of the people is nowhere near as evident as in word-of-mouth marketing. According to a Recent Nielsen study, 85 percent of consumers say that recommendations coming from family or friends are the most trustworthy and influential. What’s more, many said that their opinion matters a lot when making new purchases.
Essentially, influencer marketing can be viewed as an offshoot of word-of-mouth marketing. It connects with the potential customer on a personal level, much like an advice coming from your uncle. An influencer’s trusted voice reaches the consumer in a very warm, personal way, as opposed to a marketing campaign controlled by a giant advertising agency. To create this warm, friendly connection with the customer it’s critical to understand how important is the influencer who delivers the message. People are surprisingly diverse, but they respond to a person they admire and respect fairly similar. They respond positively to people who seem to have the same desires, problems, and needs, but have a way of communicating certain messages.
Basically, companies need to find these influencers and put the creative part of advertising in their hands. Influencer advertising works best when the creative element is done by the influencer together with the company, and the message is delivered by a trustworthy figure in the niche or industry.
Do numbers really tell everything you need to know?
Advertising has always been, and will always be, a field dominated by numbers. It’s what advertisers look at, it’s what companies look at and it’s what consumers look at. And, to some extent, influencer marketing is numbers oriented as well. However, because influencer marketing is working on a more personal level, connecting people with similar interests, the numbers don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the relationship.
Similarly, there are a lot of niche networks of consumers which are increasingly difficult to reach for major companies. Access to these closed networks is often possible only through respectable, local influencers, and in these cases, the numbers don’t say too much.
Let’s take, for instance, a company which sells bass fishing equipment in Oregon. This company might want to work with an influencer based in a town in that state, with exactly the same interests and needs as their potential customers. Obviously, a bass fisherman, even if popular on social media platforms, will not have a Huge following; instead, his or her following might be highly devoted, engaged and interested. This is what makes influencer marketing so powerful: a handful of influencers can connect, chat and engage with customers on a personal level, creating long-lasting relationships, which ultimately can become immensely profitable for companies.
The success of influencer marketing – choosing the right influencer
The success of traditional marketing campaigns is often directly linked to how big your budget is. On the other hand, in influencer marketing, the budget comes only in the second or even third place. The most important aspect of influencer marketing and its success is how the relationship between the influencer and the brand is built. In other words, success is highly dependent on the quality of the match between the brand and the influencer. If the match is perfect, the message will reach the right audience and it will be seen as authentic and clearly targeted.
At this point, it’s clear that influencer marketing is not, in fact, advertising. It is something that exists far beyond pure numbers and percentages. For instance, the size of an audience shows how popular an influencer is, but it will not show how engaged his or her followers are, how will the message be received and what feedback will it return.
Thanks to the internet, and particularly to social media, connecting with the consumer has never easier than today. Influencer marketing is a massive opportunity to get your products and services known to a highly engaged set of potential customers, but knowing how to deal with this new marketing channel can be tricky.
Influencer marketing is more than spreading a message to the masses. It’s more about connecting and engaging with the individual consumer.