In this social age, digital marketers are no longer limited to wooing entire target markets. They also have a dynamic, real-time, always current resource at their disposal - influencers. If your brand cares about growing its user base, influencer marketing has become a must.
As marketing strategies go, influencer campaigns are among the most powerful. This is primarily due to their accessibility and timeliness in today’s interconnected, shareable landscape.
Influencers aren't one-size-fits-all. Not just your average garden variety endorsement, these quasi-celebrities are authoritative voices in their chosen arena. As content producers, they dedicate enough energy to their blogs, social media channels, vlogs or columns to attract loyal followers. This has been achieved with blood, sweat and clicks (perhaps some tears too). Driving enough traffic to propel their content to where it is today has most likely taken years of stamina, with minimal tangible reward.
Having said this, not just any old influencer will do - interstellar reach isn’t everything. Experts or opinion makers they may be, but custodian of your brand? Perhaps they are, but one thing is for sure - your team needs to consider the fit. Expert Zak Mustapha recently published 215 influencer marketing mistakes to avoid via Huffpost Business. Paul Minors highlights one that seems obvious, but an easy trap - forgetting “that the ‘influencer’ is putting their neck on the line by backing you up”. On the other hand, Jonah Berger asks marketers “to think beyond special people and starting thinking about crafting contagious content.” The idea of ensuring a compelling message is something we’ve stressed too.
A quick rundown:
Understanding influencers in context
More likely to be incentive focused, influencers will share your message if it has relevance to their audience - and, naturally, will be less likely to cultivate a relationship after your campaign if feeling used. Their key interest probably also lies in growing their own followers. Advocates or ambassadors, on the other hand, are fans and happy customers who simply want to let others know about their great experience.
To Batman vs Superman it, influencers vs advocates both produce results, for different purposes. Influencers are ideal for, but not limited to campaigns - lending a sense of social proof and rapid, broad exposure. Alternatively, advocates/ambassadors help brands long-term by sharing content that is inherently genuine by nature, and already a lasting relationship.
Finding the right balance
American grilling company, Char-Broil, is renowned for its All Star Bloggers influencer programme. Select food bloggers who specialise in outdoor grilling play with Char-Broil products, sharing their creations in posts featured under the “Community” section on the brand’s website.
Instagram’s visual heritage makes it a trendsetting hotbed, so it’s no surprise that brands dedicate influencer campaigns to it. Social Media Examiner details five ingenious examples, from brands like Johnnie Walker to sustainable project Boxed Water.
Finding the right mouthpiece
Power-packed social listening and social media monitoring functions do the dirty work for you - especially where they allow you to define your audience into categories for easy access. If you’re an Observify user, your My Audience features let you save, organise and track influencers. Their comments come to you - but only those relevant to your campaign or purpose.
We mentioned focusing on the message (as much as the messenger). But there are a few (actually, several) things to avoid when finessing the influencer of your dreams. Relationship building might seem obvious, but the specifics are easy to gloss over, like clarifying expectations with an editorial calendar. Dive deeper with Britt Michaelian’s tips on Huffpost Business, and Lee Odden’s “50 ways to fail at influencer marketing” (yes, 50, but don’t overthink it).
So see where an influencer collab takes you - it’s well worth investing your time, and who knows? Your brand just might end up with an on-trend, scalable engagement initiative.