By Candice Georgiadis, social media influencer and founder of Digital Day Inc, a social media and marketing agency in California.
If you are working in any industry worldwide today, it is virtually impossible that you haven’t heard of or been on the receiving end of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is often closely linked to the rise of the impact of social media on purchase decisions or lifestyle choices. While the organization of this industry might be relatively new, influencers have been around since time immemorial. Think of the impact of the Queen on daily British life, or the way the presidential elections influence the daily lives of Americans. Both the throne and the office of the president are not a recent phenomenon.
An influencer is essentially a public figure endorsing and promoting a product or service. One of the oldest and most celebrated influencer marketing campaigns has been Coca-Cola’s campaign involving Santa Claus. In 1932, Coca-Cola used the image of Santa Claus to bring festive cheer during the Great Depression. While the motive was to increase sales, festival cheer and joy were associated with drinking Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola maintained this brand association year after year to the point that, in 1937, children started putting out Coca-Cola alongside cookies and milk on Christmas Eve.
It is an absolute no-brainer that while the legacy of influencing has been around forever, social media revamped and repackaged the idea of making “influencers” out of people with a command of their audiences. The word influencer has become more relevant in recent times. Being an influencer today is aspirational, becoming a full-time job description for people on the internet. According to Business Insider’s forecast, 67.9% of U.S. marketers from companies with 100 or more employees will use influencer marketing in 2021, up from 62.3% in 2020. In 2022, that figure will rise to 72.5%.
According to Collabstr’s 2022 Influencer Marketing Report, influencer marketing is stronger than ever; brands are projected to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing in 2022. The Pandemic catalyzed this growth, where social media occupied the largest visibility for the audiences restricted to their homes. In a May 2020 survey, U.S. and U.K. consumers who followed influencers were most interested in content that entertained or helped them with their daily lives amid the pandemic.
How can brands pick the right influencers?
Two major factors affect the influence of an influencer. Brands widely use these factors to find the right influencers for their campaign requirements. To find the right influencers, you need to look at their reach and niche. Reach looks at their overall followers and engagement, including direct followers and indirect engagement through exploration and discovery features on social media. Niche focuses on targeting influencers in a certain domain of expertise. Reach helps brands target a wide audience base that believes in the influencer, while niche can be leveraged for special subject-matter-related strategies.
Here are some steps you can take to find the right influencer for your brand:
1. Create an outline of your campaign goals and requirements. Detail your desired outcomes at this stage and create metrics to track your progress.
2. List influencers who align with these goals and requirements. Analyze their niche and reach. Understand your audience demographics and pick influencers who align with your target age, sex, location or purchase patterns.
3. Calculate the engagement rate of these influencers. Select a bunch of their branded posts, add the total number of likes and comments under these posts, divide the total influencers’ number of followers, and multiply the result by 100. Do this for at least 10 posts to understand the average engagement rate.
4. Ensure that these selected influencers are relevant to your brand’s offerings. Engagement rate is important, but your post being relevant on their feed and to their audience should always take priority.
5. Choose influencers who share values with you and are authentic. If you are an eco-conscious brand, you shouldn’t partner with an influencer who promotes fast fashion or is not environmentally conscious in their actions.
The influencers you choose should become your partners and advocate for your brand beyond formally posting about it. Good collaborations occur only when you both are authentic and honest about working together. You can expect a positive ROI only when you align with the influencer’s audience through their authenticity. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub 2021 survey, the most common metric brands use to measure a marketing campaign’s success is conversions or sales. Influencer Marketing Hub also shows that on average, businesses earn $5.78 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.
As important as it is to acquire a good fit with an influencer, it is equally critical to maintain these relationships over time. As Entrepreneur rightly observes, “The best thing about using an influencer strategy is that people consider influencers their friends and not celebrities.” Collaborating with an influencer periodically can allow you to stay top of mind with their audiences and generate goodwill, motivating an influencer to go above and beyond. You can use influencer marketing to bring newer audiences to your platforms, but you need to be equally tactful to retain these audiences.
Here are a few ways in which you can retain the audiences you acquire from influencer marketing:
1. Keep communication in sync across all influencers you work with.
2. Make sure you, as a brand, are also authentic, transparent and enthusiastic about welcoming these new audiences.
3. Supplement the influencer marketing campaign with social proof.
4. Keep a strong content pipeline with a powerful call to action to make sure you continue to stay visible to your target audience through various platforms.
5. Build a lead magnet on your website when a campaign is live to acquire leads instead of just visitors.
Influencer marketing has almost 11x more ROI when compared to traditional forms of media. It is high time brands started leveraging influencer marketing for good.