Will Influencer Marketing Steer Your Brand for Long, or is it a Passing Fad?

Until the arrival of Instagram as a major marketing tool, the word ‘influencer’ was hardly an integral part of one’s lexicon. But influencer marketing has now entered the big league and is worth billions of dollars. You can rest assured that every time a premium blogger with thousands of followers posts on Instagram or myriad other websites, the odds that he or she has been paid to promote a product are high.

What exactly is influencer marketing?

To put it in the blandest language, an influencer is a person who has countless followers on various social media, can persuade people to alter their buying behaviour by winning them over, and is often talked-about by other well-known bloggers.

A good example can be Kylie Jenner, star of the hit reality TV show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’

In March 2019, she became the youngest self-made billionaire. Jenner has her own fashion line that includes make-up and clothes, besides handbags and other items. If she changes her brand of shoes for a day, a vast majority of her 130 million+ followers on Instagram and 22 million subscribers on Facebook may follow suit. It can literally change the fashion industry.

Each niche segment has its own superstar influencers. Fitness enthusiasts look up to Michelle Lewin, foodies look up to Meghan Rienks, aspiring makeup artists to James Charles, and photographers to Chris Burkard.

If none of the names jumps out, it is because these people are the centres of their own respective universes, with their followers orbiting them. In their circle, they are enormously popular.

One organic aspect of all influencer marketing on Instagram is that these mini-celebs often post on behalf of their product sponsors. However, the distinction is rather thin, and exactly when a personal post becomes a paid one is hard to tell apart.

Can such marketing help your business in the long haul?

Experts do not agree on or subscribe to, a single point of view here. There is one school of thought that suggests that consumers have wisened up to the marketing tactics of brands that use celebrity-driven sales. Another section of experts believes that this is a tactic that is here to stay for good.

Some of the recent surveys of market behaviour suggest that more companies are setting aside more sums on advertising via minor and major-league celebs. Influencer marketing on Instagram is booming: the industry is currently valued at $ 2 billion, and it is predicted to go up to $10-12 billion by 2020.

The single most important factor that sustains in the industry is the engagement rate. Simply put, it is the number of likes and comments divided by the total number of followers.

Superstars on Instagram charge anything between $162 and $10,000 or more every post. If you own a niche business, you must take such marketing strategies seriously.

Here are some statistics that will imply how crucial such marketing tactics are.

  • Influencer marketing tends to lead to more customer conversions. For example, Jared Busch, an avid Youtuber, recently made headlines when he made a OnePlus 6T unboxing video that fetched millions of views. In a single day, more people had seen the video than the entire product launch lifecycle of the preceding OnePlus 5T.
  • Data suggests that for every dollar a company spends on such marketing techniques, it earns 6.5 dollars.
  • Nearly 49% of all businesses state that they will focus more on video advertising in the coming years. That spells a bull market for such opinion-shapers.
  • More emphasis is now being put on social media marketing. It hints at a departure from other traditional routes like email marketing, social and search ads, and even old-school SEO.

Popular brands engaged in influencer marketing

To help you take the leap of faith, here are two examples of global giants engaged in influencer-driven marketing campaigns.

  1. H&M is one of the largest stores that specialises in retailing clothing for the young and the elderly and is popular around the year. They have been embraced by the millennials and the well-heeled thanks to their curated content. They were also one of the first major brands to join the influencer bandwagon. Ela Velden and Julie Sariñana were two star campaigners. Sariñana seemed especially enamoured with their collection and was seen wearing their designs often on Instagram.
  2. Samsung added value differentiation by engaging professional Snapchat artist CyreneQ to help them launch the now-dated Galaxy Note 7 range of devices. The adverts were a huge hit and were one reason why the range sold so well. There is another tale that remains untold here, but you will soon see the connection.

Spotting influencers

Spotting social media influencers is easy when you know what to look for. Choose anyone who has:

  1. At least 10,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook.
  2. One who commands respect of the target audience.
  3. Someone who has not worked with any other brand.
  4. One whose opinion is taken seriously.

Besides, your chosen influencer should also be active on social media, and must not have dominated the headlines for the wrong reasons.

How to utilise such marketing better?

It is crucial to determine how to better helm such marketing techniques. Here are some of the ideas that will enable you to form a better strategy when it comes to investing in the near future.

  1. Identify your niche

You need to know your audience and its demographics. If most of your clients are female and are below the age of 30, you can look for younger social media stars. Studies highlight that ‘influencing’ is a gender-neutral process, and you do not need to hire female influencers to attract women.

  1. Choose the right people

It is one of the areas where most organisations falter. When you talk of the ‘right’ expert, you essentially mean someone who suits the aspirational values of a brand. A marvellous example is Special K, a breakfast cereal from Kellogg’s. When a new advertising campaign was necessary, Kellogg’s focused on pregnant women, a demographic that is focused on creating better dietary habits for their children. Besides, the campaign also highlighted strong and independent women.

  1. Create better content and add value

No advertising campaign will succeed if you do not add value to your products. You have to project your products in a different manner vis-à-vis your competitors. You will need to showcase how your product is actually better than what is currently available. Value addition is essential, especially if your product portfolio involves items that are in vogue like gourmet items.

For the record, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 did not work well, although they sold very well. The reason: the phones were prone to battery malfunctions and even explosions. Remember CyreneQ and Samsung’s collaboration? Well, it turns out that not even she could save Samsung! That is value addition at its worst.

  1. Choose a budget

This is where multiple teams need to collaborate. Your marketing team must be in touch with the one that allocates budgets, and vice versa. If you do not have too much money to tap a popular celebrity, you can always choose a minor celebrity to start with. Vanity metrics mean nothing; it is the conversion rate that matters.

If you think that hiring a celebrity to work his or her magic has sparked renewed interest in your products and improved sales, you can then go ahead and allocate a bigger budget. At the end of the day, advertising is nothing without a tinge of risk. Patience is also a virtue.

As an organisation, you cannot expect overnight results from influencer marketing on Instagram. You have to give it some time. Once the ad campaign starts to take shape, you may have to undergo course correction.

Influencer marketing is here for good, and it will yield good results in years to come. The organisation that will win this race is the one that doesn’t lose its nerve.

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