Since the inception of business, there has existed marketing. From the times of old where merchants would shout about their wares for all to hear, to the more subtle print and TV campaigns of the late 20th century, it’s always been a goal of business to let everybody know that they are there. The internet revolutionised the industry and has brought on a slew of new mediums which would become ripe for both advertising and marketing.
Through the use of ads, video and beautifully designed websites businesses have never had more variety in marketing themselves to the world. In the last few years however, a new form of marketing has taken the world by storm. Until recent rules and regulations imposed a stricter code of conduct, many of us didn’t even know we were being marketed to. Yes, I am talking about influencer marketing. After reading this comprehensive series of articles titled Everything You Need To Know About Influencer Marketing, you will have the knowledge and skills to put this theory into practice for yourselves.
What Is An Influencer?
The official Oxford Dictionary definition of an influencer is – A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. By looking at the world of social media you begin to see that almost anybody has the potential to be an influencer. All you need to qualify as one is a following of people and platform to reach them from and you too can join their ranks.
There are varying degrees of influencer and inevitably as they have become more powerful and prevalent they have come with varying levels of value for different campaign types. Remember with influencers that the vast majority of them aren’t celebrities in the traditional form of the word. Although hugely popular and well know within their respective circles, outside of their audience you will likely have never seen or heard of them. With the exception of a handful of influencers who have risen to global stardom they really do come in a myriad of styles and sizes.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Using someone within the public spotlight to promote and endorse a product isn’t new. We have used singers, actors and sportspeople to try and encourage the public to buy anything from cigarettes in the 60’s to soft drinks and diet plans today. The difference between influencer marketing and sponsorship deals is that influencer marketing is proven to be far more effective. This comes down to the type of personal relationship influencers have gained with their audience, or community as they like to call it. Their community feel like they know them as a friend and have a vested interest in their daily lives.
Celebrities tend to have a disconnected relationship with their fans. They may post regularly on social media and do public appearances but their fans primarily follow them as a result of their talent rather than their personality. Because of this when compared to influencers we actually see a drop in the effectiveness of endorsement campaigns than their influencer counterparts.
In a study in 2018, shanebarker.com broke down some differences between the effectiveness of traditional celebrities and influencers in terms of marketing a brand. This is some of what they found:
- 70% of teenagers say they feel they relate more to influencers than celebrities.
- 4 in 10 millennials feels their favourite influencer understands them better than their own friends do
- On average YouTube stars receive x2 more engagement from their content and x12 more comments than regular celebrities.
- 70% of YouTube users believe that YouTube influencers are trendsetters.
There are many more interesting statistics you can indulge in but the general trend is that influencers are far more influential (pun intended). With an increased engagement rate, larger following and more devoted and loyal fan base it’s no wonder that they are performing better as a marketing tool.
How Does It Work?
To put it very simply it’s just a case of finding the right influencer to represent your brand/product/service. Businesses will usually engage with them in a professional conversation and reach an agreement which is then written into a contract. It works for the most part like everything else in business, one party offering something in exchange for monetary reward.
There are now management agencies who represent influencers (just like talent agencies represent actors). They pay taxes on their income, are usually registered businesses or limited companies and even can have their own staff. It’s grown from something small and unheard of and into a large sophisticated and profitable industry. Influencer marketing is today worth around $5 billion a year and expected to rise to $10 Billion a year by 2020.
From a brand or business perspective, your goal is to engage with an influencer and reach an agreement which you will then see them either endorse, talk about or just even wear/use your product. The power of using them as a voice and platform to advertise dwarfs the effectiveness and cost of traditional advertising methods. Studies show that using an influencer gives a business x11 higher return on investment than traditional marketing.
Is It Worth It?
Whether you love them or loathe them influencers are here to stay. Due to the accessibility of social media, the ability for anybody to become an influencer and the effectiveness of their use, they are only going to grow and grow. You don’t need to be a brand the size of Coca Cola or Nike to use influencer marketing and likewise, you don’t need to target the mega influencers with many millions of followers. There is an influencer who is perfect for you just out there waiting for you to find them.
If you are looking at expanding and growing your brand or want more exposure for your amazing product, influencer marketing is the most effective, powerful and cost-friendly tool at your disposal. It would be foolish to not consider it at all. Paired with a solid marketing campaign in the traditional form your potential could be limitless.
In part 2 we will be looking at how to build an influencer marketing strategy, the tools you can use and some words of caution to remember when approaching influencers so you don’t sabotage your own campaign before you begin.