Influencer Marketing, The New Word of Mouth

By Emily Mckay

Over the last decade social media has become an integrated part of everyday life, and during lockdown the connection to friends and families online has proven invaluable. Communities are also benefitting, with social media creating a vital outlet for them to come together. Many towns, villages and housing developments have dedicated pages to share the local news.  These have become even more valuable to connect those who are shielding to their ‘local heroes’, as well as providing a great platform to discover local businesses and amenities.

It is clear that social media is definitely here to stay, and for brands that means embracing ‘Influencer Marketing’. The nation is now more connected than it ever has been, everything is available at the tap of a finger, and the family/fitness/food/fashion and lifestyle influencers that you may have scrolled past before are now more impactful than ever. A staggering 61% of consumers rely on social media as the most important source of information when shopping, affirming this is an area that brands really need to include in their campaigns or a new marketing strategy.

I recently attended a webinar hosted by the PRCA which focused on the benefits of influencer marketing; interestingly it was mentioned that audiences need to see a brand mentioned by an influencer at least three times before following up with that brand or product. Audiences need to trust that the influencer they are following really does love a product and that their opinions are authentic – influencer/follower relationships are built on trust and authenticity.

Audiences don’t want to be saturated with adverts, 40% of consumers use AD-blocking technology to limit the number of adverts they see online, further indicating that online paid adverts are not as effective as they once were on social media. Additionally, consumers are more likely to follow an influencer rather than a brand on social media, which makes sense; influencers are seen as a trustworthy source of information unlike a brand where it can be obvious that you are being advertised to.

When looking at influencer marketing it may be tempting to choose someone based on their following, however in most cases ‘Micro-Influencers’ (those with less than 100,000 followers) are the better choice. A Micro-Influencers audience has a 68% higher engagement rate on branded posts than those with more than a million followers. Spreading your budget between a number of Micro-Influencers rather than using one big name influencer can often result in a more impactful and engaging campaign. And if conducted well, the content may be transferrable across different mediums, check out these campaigns below:

Renault Scénic #BehindClosedDoors https://mslgroup.com/work/behind-car-doors

Loreal #BeautySquad https://econsultancy.com/could-l-oreal-s-beauty-squad-mark-a-shift-for-influencer-marketing/

When planning a campaign which includes an influencer, it is important set out your objectives and include them from the beginning. No one knows an influencers audience better than the influencer themselves – for a campaign to be successful, the messaging needs to be authentic and for that, working together is key. Perhaps your brief can fit into something that is already happening in their life, creating a seamless bridge to their audience.

An Influencer will live and die by their reputation, a brand partnership has to be right for them too e.g. a beauty blogger is unlikely to advertise Persil Non-Bio, where as a family led one would. 47% of influencers would reject an unsuitable collaboration, for this reason it is important to research potential influencers before approaching them and keep in mind these questions:

 

  • Have they worked with similar brands before?
  • Do they talk about issues relevant to your brand?
  • Is their demographic your target audience?
  • Do their values align with that of your brand?
  • What do you want from the collaboration? Increasing brand awareness, generating sales leads, SEO link building etc.
  • What is the story?
  • Have you got unique content, insight or experience to offer them? Do you have a good angle?

A successful influencer campaign relies on the brand trusting the influencer to create organic content. Influencers are creative, their audiences follow them because they like their content. The best influencer campaigns happen when the influencer is trusted to create authentic content that will resonate with their audience.

Many successful influencer partnerships can continue to  develop over a number of years, whereas some brands may work an influencer once a quarter or once a year. When aligning with an influencer it is good to plan for the long term, consider how you could build a relationship with them for now and in the future.

Finally, it is important to remember whilst influencers are not sales people they do form part of the sales journey.  They will be putting your brand in front of new audiences, raising awareness and assisting with new sales.