The following is a guest post written by Sean Begg Flint, the founder at Position Digital, a digital marketing agency for ambitious startups and growing brands. He is passionate about helping businesses establish and increase their online presence through purpose-driven content marketing and using digital outreach for good.
Influencer marketing offers incredible opportunities for brands in a huge range of different industries, from fashion and beauty to hospitality and leisure. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the field experience rapid growth, rising from a lesser-known form of marketing that some were decidedly skeptical about, to an integral part of many a global company’s growth strategies.
As increasing numbers of brands begin to take note of the potential that influencer marketing campaigns hold, its prevalence is on the rise. Over the past 12 months, Google has seen a 325% increase in the number of searches mentioning the term “influencer marketing”. It’s no longer the secret it once was.
Image Source: Google Trends
The recent rise in awareness has translated into increased profitability, too. Estimates by Business Insider Intelligence have suggested that the influencer marketing industry could be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, a phenomenal increase from its $8 billion value in 2019.
As the figures show, influencer marketing is set to become a dominating force in strategy planning over the months and years to come. But how does it work, and how can your brand make sure it gets the most from its sponsored content? Read on and all will be revealed.
How is Influencer Marketing Faring as a Strategy?
Influencer marketing is still relatively new, as far as marketing strategies go, but it’s definitely holding its own in terms of results.
When compared with more traditional forms of marketing, such as content marketing, paid advertising such as display advertising and PPC, social media marketing and old classics like print, TV and radio campaigns, influencer marketing is a real contender. In fact, many are now suggesting that it is one of the most reliable and profitable uses of marketing budgets.
An article recently published by industry magazine Marketing Week suggested that the ROI of influencer campaigns has long been undervalued, as too many do not measure the post-campaign performance of influencers’ content. While influencer marketing does tend to be analyzed both during and immediately after a campaign, it is seldom measured in the weeks and months following its end. But this is a mistake, and recent research has revealed exactly why.
Analyzing a series of beauty campaigns, the study found that content gained an “extra 44% impressions in the two months following the campaign ending, on average,” with content impressions increasing a further “96% in the two months following the campaign ending.” So influencer marketing could well be more efficient as a strategy than other tools, such as social media advertising for example.
Why Create an Influencer Marketing Campaign?
Influencer campaigns work brilliantly when used in conjunction with other forms of marketing, such as content marketing and social media campaigns. Providing brands with new opportunities to expand their reach and tap into new markets, influencers can rapidly increase awareness and drive huge upsurges in traffic.
For brands hoping to connect with younger audiences, influencer campaigns are particularly beneficial. The reach of influencers is hugely powerful amongst the age groups that use social platforms the most, and these groups also happen to be the ones who are most likely to be persuaded by something they’ve seen promoted by an influencer.
Studies suggest that consumers in the 16-24 age bracket are most likely to make a purchase as a direct result of an influencer campaign, with 91% of this age group crediting social media advertising with changes in their spending habits.
Older demographics are not immune to the power of influencer marketing, though. The findings of a Nielsen report, shared by the New York Times, showed that those aged 35-49 actually spend more time on social media than some younger age brackets. This group was found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week using social media, while 18-34-year-olds spent 6 hours 19 minutes on social media each week.
With social media usage on the rise, it’s easy to see why influencer marketing has quickly become the phenomenon it now is. Influencer marketing holds the key to rapidly improving brand awareness and profitability, and these results can often be achieved in a very cost-effective way.
Five Point Checklist for Your First Influencer Marketing Campaign
Whether you’re thinking of taking your first tentative steps into the competitive world of influencer marketing, or you’ve been working with influencers for some time, it’s always worth reading up on the latest tips and tricks to see how you could be making the most of influencer marketing. Make sure your next campaign is a roaring success by following our five-point campaign checklist.
1. Understand your audiences
Marketers have long been using buyer personas to get to know the consumers that purchase their products, and this practice is worth extending into influencer campaign planning too.
Before starting any influencer campaign, a brand really needs to know their target audience. Audiences should be considered in as much detail as possible and separated into different groups wherever necessary. Once a brand really understands which audiences it’s hoping to reach, it can begin to make more informed decisions in terms of strategy planning.
Use the data you already have to examine your audiences and understand them in as much detail as possible.
Create a set of buyer personas for your campaign, including both current customers and the new groups you’re looking to target.
Think about how these groups will respond to influencer campaigns. Choose how much of your campaign budget to dedicate to each group based on this analysis.
Start thinking about which influencers would work best for your specific audiences.
Adriene of Adriene LDN is a motivational speaker and fitness guru who works with a collection of different brands via her Instagram channel. Adriene recently partnered with Flora, the buttery spread brand that was once the headline sponsor of the London Marathon, to offer a more modern take on a fitness-focused marketing campaign. The partnership allowed Flora to connect with Adriene’s engaged audience of health and wellness enthusiasts, with an exercise demonstration from the trainer herself.
2. Choosing your influencers
When influencer marketing was in its infancy, there was a real tendency for brands to value influencers with the largest numbers of followers above all else. But this has changed.
Today’s influencer partnerships are formed in a more targeted way because those that achieve the best results don’t always have huge armies of followers at their beck and call. Micro-influencers and nano influencers have far fewer followers, but those that do follow will usually be far more engaged and likely to be persuaded by any content posted by the influencer in question.
It’s well worth doing your research on the huge range of different influencers in your industry, to discover the smaller influencers that best align with your brand’s values and messaging. In doing so, you’ll be able to create a series of inexpensive, targeted campaigns that could achieve a great ROI.
- Search for micro and nano influencers in your industry.
- Connect with influencers that align with your brand’s values.
- Speak to influencers at length about content and campaign ideas.
- Choose the influencers that best suit your brand.
- Run campaigns with smaller influencers to tap into highly engaged audiences.
Influencers with smaller groups of followers aren’t just used by brands with low budgets. They can often be found promoting products on behalf of large companies who have recognized the real power they have to drive engagement. Just take a look at this campaign by Wickes, in partnership with interior design micro-influencer Tara of Our Layered Home.
3. Authenticity is key
As the prevalence of influencer marketing grows, so too does skepticism amongst consumers surrounding influencer-promoted content. Trust is vital in influencer marketing, and that’s why brands should be choosing their influencers very carefully.
Influencers too are more discerning when it comes to selecting the brands they choose to work with, as the authenticity of their own channels relies on their willingness to say no to companies that don’t fit with their own personal values.
Campaigns that get the best results will invariably value authenticity highly, and this really shows when it comes to the resulting influencer-promoted content. Authentic content must be styled and presented by the influencer, with minimal interference from the brand’s own marketing teams. When this is done well, audiences react favorably – and engagement improves.
- Ensure that all influencer partnerships are authentic and work with the brand’s own style preferences.
- Allow influencers free reign to create their own content featuring chosen products.
- Ensure that sponsored content works harmoniously with influencers’ previous posts, and is subtle on feeds and stories.
- Research the brands that influencers have worked with in the past to check that there are no discrepancies in terms of your own brand’s social and environmental policies.
Famed parenting influencer Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, has a considerable following, but she ensures that sponsored content remains authentic by putting her own personal twist on every piece of content posted on behalf of a brand. Take a look at the caption of this image, posted on behalf of Sky TV, where Whitehouse has added her own humorous spin on the content to appeal to her followers.
4. Change and adapt as you go
All influencer marketing campaigns should begin with a clearly defined set of goals and objectives, and a timeline detailing how these results are going to be achieved. But this doesn’t mean there’s no room for flexibility in influencer marketing. In fact, these campaigns provide invaluable opportunities to improve as you go, because many of the stats that matter to brands are available to analyze in real-time.
As campaigns start to run, keep an eye on all the metrics you value. Run separate reports for every influencer that you’re working with, and compare these reports frequently. This will enable you to pinpoint the particular content that is working well for your brand, and it’ll also show you exactly which influencers are getting the best results for your company. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to tweak campaign ideas and invest more in the most worthwhile partnerships.
- Decide on your campaign goals and narrow down your most important metrics.
- Run regular reports on these metrics for every influencer your brand is working with.
- Tweak campaigns as and when required based on analytical reporting.
- Ascertain which partnerships are working best and use these insights to plan the budgets of future campaigns.
Haute Florist is a small business that works with influencers to get its products seen by huge numbers of potential consumers. The brand has championed micro-influencers in its marketing campaigns, working with the likes of Chloe of Oak Tree Home over a prolonged period of time. As part of the campaign, Chloe has posted a series of styled product shots, all of which are in keeping with other content on her feed.
5. Promote your ambassadors
Don’t let influencers do all the hard work for you. Promote your influencers as campaigns run to help boost engagement further, and really get the best return on every penny that’s been invested in your influencer strategy.
Create a campaign that nods to the different influencers that you’re working with, sharing their bespoke content wherever possible. You could choose to feature influencers on your stories, highlight them on your main feed or even encourage them to take over your brand’s channel for a period of time.
- Plan content to be posted on your brand’s channels that links to your chosen influencers.
- Highlight brand ambassadors and show followers how they’re using your products.
- Share influencer-created content on your own stories and feeds.
- Encourage influencers to take over your channel with a planned series of posts, interviews or product demonstrations.
Fashion and lifestyle brand Anthropologie regularly works with Instagram influencers, and is well known for the sponsored content it shares via social media. The brand showcases its collection of handpicked curators regularly, as can be seen in this post which was originally shared by Imogen of One Slow Sunday.
Final Words on Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a hugely powerful tool, providing impressive opportunities for all kinds of different brands. Social platforms such as Instagram are now used by over a billion people, many of whom see branded content on a daily basis. For companies looking to expand their reach and profit from increased traffic, influencer marketing is invaluable. Start building partnerships with influencers today, and your company could soon be enjoying rapid growth as the result of branded influencer campaigns.