A study by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) revealed that two-thirds of consumers today are using ad blockers. Desktop users say that ads make it difficult for them to navigate sites. While smartphone users believe that ads make web browsing slower. This presents a pressing concern for marketers. Fortunately, they can rely on the ingenuity offered by social media influencers. Regardless of what it is that you are selling, there will always be influencers in that space who can impact your target audience. From editors of top-tier publications to independent bloggers, there are influencers in every niche industry. Influencers are seen as trusted sources for content that eventually help shape buying decisions for the target audiences they reach.
A Guardian study stated that 69% of customers will use the Internet as their main source of information within the next five years. A separate study conducted by Nike suggests that fewer than 25% of consumers trust online advertisements. 74% of consumers are influenced by social media while making a purchase decision. All this means that marketers will need to increasingly work with influencers in their digital marketing strategies and campaigns, and veer away from what they are familiar with. The power of word of mouth and personal recommendations combined with influencer identification and activation is what will make your campaigns work. Influencers help promote a product a lot further and for far cheaper than do traditional media buying spots. Influencer marketing is an incredibly effective way to reach interested consumers. It delivers 11x higher ROI than other forms of digital marketing and marketers often see a 7x return on their investment.
4 biggest challenges to running a successful social media campaign are:
- Keeping it authentic: Today people have inbuilt bs detectors and can smell a non-genuine influencer post from a mile away, and they are waiting for brands to slip up to be able to point this out. It is important for brands to enable authentic true-to-the-heart influencer experiences for their target audiences
- Maintaining content quality: The challenge also lies in how you can give influencers the freedom to write in their style while still sticking to the brand’s key message. It is important to work with them on each step to ensure the right key messages are retained
- How do you incentivize influencers: Influencers will choose to post on their own accord, how do you get them to post at the frequency you desire without just buying them out? A decent barter or good reputation will ensure that your campaign has the momentum required to potentially go viral
- Design to go viral: It is important to understand as to how you will design your campaign in a way that it takes the right advantage of social graphs of the influencers which in turn will help your content spread in the right direction
With social media, it’s easier for companies to find and partner with talented influencers by following three simple steps.
During the identification process, some influencers come straight to mind while there may be others you are not aware of. As marketers, we need to look beyond obvious metrics previously used such as unique visitors or number of Twitter followers and delve deeper using social media listening. To what extent do readers engage with an influencer and/or how often they return to an influencer’s content are indicators of how meaningful influencer/ customer relationships can potentially be. It is also important to consider what social platforms your customers visit. Someone with a large Pinterest or Instagram following might be more valuable to a food or fashion brand, than someone on Facebook with a large friend network. Ask yourself: What is a big part of my brand’s personality? Will my product or campaign be best promoted by an activist, an authority or an informer? This will help you identify the right influencer.
Personalizing your pitch to influencers is key to having them engage with your brand. Many Influencers are active on multiple social media platforms. This makes it important for you and your brand to reference the content the influencer has previously written, which should seamlessly align with the content you publish. Pitching to influencers is just part of the process. What pays off long term is building relationships with influencers, which result in more coverage and more exposure to your brand’s target audience.
- Shout outs: Sharing anything your influencers write about with regards to your brand will increase traffic to your influencer’s profiles and help grow their following (leading to a win-win situation)
- Product discount or giveaway: Offering discounts on services and giving product freebies is a great way to incentivize an influencer to keep talking about your brand. If they like what you have sent them, they could personally recommend your offerings in the future
- Commission: For influencers who are actively inserting themselves into conversations about your brand and bringing you potential sales, it might be worthwhile to set up a mutually beneficial partnership wherein they receive commission or revenue share in the short term for the clients/sales they bring your way. This commercial relationship should be made public so that the credibility of the influencer and your brand is not compromised.
When it comes to influencers, how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? Social media listening and monitoring tool helps identify influencers through a series of algorithms. By using scores relating to reach, resonance and relevance, the tool helps identify which influencer is serving your brand most effectively. Based on this, the brand can plan and figure out future campaigns and strategies around them.
- Creative freedom: Brands should allow influencers as much control as they can with regards to how they present the brand’s product. This also encourages them to think about creative ways to promote the product, which in turn creates unlimited fodder for interesting campaigns. Influencers are more drawn to your brand when you give them more creative freedom, which tends to show in the content they put out
- Timely engagement: Make sure you get influencers involved at an early stage of your brand campaign. Send your influencers select content, as opposed to every piece you publish, such that their opinion and commentary adds specific value. You can also exchange interesting pieces of content with one another to build a relationship. This way you are seen as a content curator and a viable resource for their audience rather than a self-promoter
Influencer marketing is here to stay, in fact, searches for the term “influencer marketing” increased over 300% on Google in 2017 versus 2016. Just like any other marketing trend, influencer targeting for brand campaigns will continue to morph and evolve. One should partner with influencers, not just to tell your story but also to tell theirs. It is important for a brand to help and direct influencers to useful resources whenever they are faced with certain issues, even if those resources have nothing to do with the brand. It is this kind of influencer/follower relationship that has helped cement powerful brands and taken startups or small no name companies to dazzling heights. Social Media intelligence can help you find the right influencers. The rest is in your hands.
Dr Ranjit Nair (PhD AI), CEO and Founder of Germin8 Solutions