The use of influencers is certainly not a new phenomenon in marketing strategy, however, it does seem to be the buzz word in digital marketing at the moment.
In 2016, 86% of marketers engaged in some form of influencer marketing with most marketers citing they would be doubling their investments in 2017 (eMarketer).
So what’s changed?
Social media has certainly changed the environment of digital marketing, proliferating the profile of everyday people and putting them in the sights of brands all over the world.
What is an Influencer?
It’s not news that word-of-mouth recommendations still play a crucial role in a consumer’s purchasing cycle and has been shown to improve marketing effectiveness by up to 54% [MarketShare].
Millennials ranked word-of-mouth as the #1 influencer in their purchasing decisions about clothes, packaged goods, big-ticket items (travel and electronics), and financial products [Radius Global].
This trust in the recommendations of people has launched the profile of actively engaged individuals on social media, thus the creation of ‘the influencer’.
An individual can be identified as an influencer if they;
- have an established sense of authority/credibility in a certain industry (lifestyle, fashion, food, travel, fitness etc.)
- have a large reach to an engaged fan base (visibility)
- are authentic and have an ability to sway opinions/perceptions
Influencers have become somewhat of an unofficial friend, and we trust their recommendations more than branded content delivered directly from the brands they connect us with.
What is Influencer Marketing?
When a brand compensates an influencer for a promotional post – that is influencer marketing in its simplest form.
Why do Brands Need Influencers?
The decline in outbound or “push” marketing effectiveness has led to more brands reaching out to influencers.
When a brand partners with an influencer, they get access to a number of things including;
- their personal aesthetic and authenticity
- the eyes and ears of a large, loyal and engaged fan base (the influencer’s following and their audience network)
- the production of branded content (User Generated Content)
- their ability to influence and illicit action for your brand
- their brand advocacy as they frequently engage with fan’s in two-way conversations
Industries Benefitting from Influencer Marketing
Although influencers seem to be crawling their way into almost every industry, three industries have arguably benefitted more than others.
1. Fashion & Beauty
85% of beauty consumers say they would trust a cosmetic review by a YouTuber over any other method.
As 89.3% of all videos watched by females on YouTube are makeup/cosmetic related and consumers watch anywhere between 6-30 hours of these videos every week, it’s not hard to see why this market has flourished from engaging with Influencers.
2. Lifestyle & Travel
Unlike typical brand content, travel and lifestyle influencer marketing involves a more casual and subtle promotion using UGC.
This has led to brands focusing their attention on the millennial market, which has long focused on targeting older generations.
With the help of influencers, travel companies are transforming themselves into lifestyle brands, with influencers creating perceptions of exclusivity, authenticity and a fear of missing out.
2. Health and Fitness
“Fitness, wellness and nutrition content and influencers have taken off because they are able to share a much more authentic journey, experience and struggle with something everyone has a connection to,” says Vanessa Flaherty, partner and senior vice president of Digital Brand Architects.
“It’s no longer a celebrity or physician-driven topic, instead it’s everyday people showing off what works and doesn’t work for them.”
How to Identify Influencer’s in Your Industry
With 6000 tweets per second, 95 million posts on Instagram every day and 4 million Facebook likes per minute – it is pretty easy to get lost down the rabbit hole searching for the best influencers for your brand.
Something important to note: influencers should be carefully chosen based on their image and how well that aligns to your brand, not just an individual with a large reach.
You want the influencers you partner with to be your biggest brand champions as they will be interacting with their audience about your products/services and you want this exchange to be authentic.
So where do we find these authentic every-day brand champions? There are a few ways we can do this.
Social monitoring through social media listening platforms will allow you to find those champions within your industry, who are already championing either your brand, or what your brand represents.
From there, brands can reach out to influencers (primarily through email) and begin their journey.
Alternatively, 70% of influencers feel that the most effective way to collaborate with brands is through an influencer marketing platform [TapInfluence and Altimeter, June 2016].
Platforms such as Magnum & CO, provide brands with the opportunity to connect with like-minded suitable influencers online.