Brands are quickly catching on to the value of influencer marketing. It’s a natural way to connect with Millennials and Generation Z – and to market products and services in a way that’s organic, authentic, and enticing.
In particular, social influencers on networks like Instagram have significant value as 74% of consumers turn to social media networks for advice before making a major purchase. Investing in these campaigns pays off – and it goes beyond way Instagram influencer marketing to other platforms and a wide variety of topics. According to Inc.com, one source found that the ROI was 11x traditional digital marketing.
Here’s a closer look at how influencers are playing a key role in marketing and strategies for brands to incorporate social influencer marketing into their own marketing and media mix.
The Current State of Influencer Marketing
One look at influencer marketing statistics quickly shows why brands are putting more of their budgets there:
- Each dollar invested in influencer marketing yields six dollars in ROI, according to Adweek.
- While many brands have increased their content production, one source reported that engagement was down 60%. Influencers can give velocity to existing content.
- Nielsen reports that 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals.
In other words, working with influencers helps get your products and content in front of the audiences you care about in a way that builds trust and ultimately helps capture an important ROI.
Choosing the Right Influencers
What makes an effective influencer? Many brands fall into the trap of choosing the individual with the largest following. Reach matters – but considered alone it’s often the wrong metric. Consider these three factors when choosing your influencers.
How closely they focus on your area or topic: An influencer’s area of focus should align with your business. In some cases, there won’t be a perfect alignment – but brands should consider the expertise and depth that an influencer brings to the table. Make sure their audience is really interested in your subject matter. Also look for an alignment between tone and brand. For example, a casual or irreverent tone might be the wrong fit for a banking brand.
How engaged their followers are: Numbers mean nothing if they don’t lead to action. Consider an influencer’s total reach – but look at their engagement rates. Are people liking, commenting and sharing based on an influencer’s content? Does the tone of the conversations suggest that people take action based on an influencer’s recommendations? An individual with 1000 highly engaged fans may ultimately prove more valuable than someone with 100,000 disengaged followers.
Whether you trust their creative judgement: Often, influencers are creating videos, posts or images to share on behalf of their brand. While you can and should consider brand guidelines, ultimately you have to trust this influencer as an ambassador on behalf of your brand. Ensure you trust their creative judgement before partnering.
Choosing the Right Partners for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
When developing your influencer marketing plans, it’s smart to consider not going it alone. Designing and managing an influencer marketing campaign takes expertise, time and a significant amount of hard work. There are a few steps you can take to choose the right partners to make your vision a reality:
- Look at successful influencer marketing examples: Whose work do you enjoy? What partners worked with them to make it happen? Study the influencer marketing case studies from your industry to get an idea of what’s working – and to develop completely fresh angles that haven’t been seen in your space yet.
- Consider an influencer marketing agency: For brands who want to structure larger campaigns or take a hands-off approach, leaving it to the experts can be a great idea. However, established agencies can help you choose the best influencers, design effective campaigns, and manage end-to-end influencer experiences that raise your visibility and attract new customers.
- Invest in influencer marketing platforms: Companies that are more hands-on with their marketing campaigns and have the in-house capabilities to manage busy campaigns can consider influencer marketing tools. Influencer marketing software can help you identify the leading voices in your space and determine how best to work with them.
As digital marketing evolves, brands are becoming increasingly savvy about strategies to connect with consumers. Influencer marketing is helping brands to connect with Millennials and Gen Z consumers – and create a stream of trusted recommendations and product endorsements that move people to action. If your approach to social media selling doesn’t include influencer marketing, now’s the time to explore this powerful technique as you develop your 2017 marketing plans.