Back in the days of traditional marketing and advertising, the most common approach is the simple one. Get your brand out there to a passive waiting audience. Let them consume ads through television or billboards, and sell the product right off the bat. As marketing evolves to accommodate new changes in society and technology, a lot of brand strategists now ask, “What is influencer marketing?”
If you have ever seen individuals who have established themselves beyond the traditional ladder of fame, you may be looking at influencers. You can find them in their own specializations and niches. They usually create a following based on interest or field of expertise. More importantly, they can market a brand and have it resonate with your new-age consumers.
What Is Influencer Marketing and How It Can Help Your Business
Influencer marketing has been gaining traction in different industries, owing to its numerous benefits. In this article, we take an in-depth look at influencer marketing and how it has been making rounds in almost any business niche. If you are a business owner and would like to know more about this new marketing method, reading this guide will help you know more about what influencer marketing can do for your company.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing taps influencers, defined as individuals who have created their own following. If before, marketing was solely based on the brand reaching out to customers, influencer marketing steers things to a new direction.
The reality of modern marketing is that brands cannot be the standalone authority in their field. No matter how long they have been in the market, a brand’s first order of business is customer satisfaction. While marketing research can help in this step, influencer marketing takes it a notch higher by having a bridge (in the form of an influencer) who already knows the rules of the game.
Influencers generally have a great deal of following because they are also considered as authorities in the field. Even if they are not part of a brand, they have been immersed in some way. Most of the time, it is that influencer’s calling–an influencer in style, travel, cuisine, and motoring. They may not own a restaurant, an airline, or even a car manufacturer company. But they have immersed themselves in the field to know the best restaurants, airline deals, and automotive secrets.
By looping them into your strategy, you are essentially building an ally that is not a spokesperson of the brand. Rather, they are deemed as relatively neutral parties and authority. Any recommendations they make are likely to have been evaluated as the best or most fitting to be shared with their following.
What are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?
What makes influencer marketing a winning approach is that you already have a ready audience. With the right content and authority, they can be tapped and talked into considering your brand. If you are still on the fence on whether you should make influencer marketing an active strategy in your arsenal, note these three main benefits that you can bring to your brand.
Improve Brand Awareness
For new brands, this is a great way to get the name out there. Long-standing brands can still benefit this way, especially with potential customers. A brand should never rely on their achievements alone because there will always be new players and new customers who are looking to try new experiences. Influencers help connect you to potential customers, as long as you choose the right kind of influencer to tap for a specific strategy.
Boost Your Content
No matter the year, content will always be king. From a brand’s perspective, it’s easy to drown in the jargon of your industry. When tapping influencers, you get to have the perspective of a potential consumer who has the authority in the field.
Influencers have different content because they fill the gap and complement traditional marketing. If you have efforts and content that sell to the market directly, think of influencer marketing as a more indirect, talkative approach. They may let audiences see their lifestyles while using your brand. Influencers show the benefits of the brand in their own lives. They tell them the success and efficiency that using the brand brings. All of these are indirect ways to tell the audience just how great a brand is without actually telling them to “Buy it!”
Reach Specific Target Audiences
In choosing the kind of influencer to tap, you also choose the kind of audience you reach. Influencers operate with their followers, and the most that marketing companies should do is understand that relationship and determine how they can inject the brand into that system.
Who are The Influencers?
In a nutshell, influencers can be considered as niche creators and spokespersons for brands. They start out in the field by merely enjoying their hobbies and sharing them with others. Take for instance an influencer who loves to travel. She creates her social media account and posts about her latest trips. She grows her fan base, and in turn, they become her followers who wait for her posts to like or share them.
Think of them as content creators. Their content is less obvious compared to corporate marketing, especially since they use social proof as a way to communicate with and reach their audience. They speak to them more as a friend or a good lead for a good buy, rather than appearing to be out for a good sale. This is based on a good trust system between influencer and follower.
Building the Trust Context
Influencers organically like a specific hobby or field they are in. When they post, it comes straight from their interest and taste, so their fans trust their judgment. Think of influencers as the common trendsetter, the only difference is that they do this because they love that particular hobby.
If you want to understand what is influencer marketing and how does it work, then you need to learn the context of trust. Influencers affect sales not by pushing the brand onto their fan base. Influencers prove the brand to the audience by giving them knowledge about the brand, experience with the product, and the authority of having tried other deals within the niche to know the best one. They become the experts, not of the brand, but of the field they are interested in. Their biggest asset would be the trust given to them by their following. Their audience cares about their opinion, and this is where you can inject your brand seamlessly.
The Evolution of Word-of-Mouth
Have you ever tried buying an item and hesitated because you’re unfamiliar with the product or the brand? What’s the first thing you do?
For a lot of people, they ask about the product? Before the age of the Internet, there is word-of-mouth. People refer brands they like to other people. Free samples work this way. When you try it, you get to tell others if you liked it or hated it.
In the world of the Internet, this works through reviews. People sample a product, then give their verdict if it’s a buy or a pass. The influencer magic lies in this evolved context of word-of-mouth. They try out a new product or brand related to their interest, and they serve as the authority or judge for their following. They can advise them on what great products to try or what deals to go for. In the travel influencer example, this may include trying out new vacation packages of resorts, availing of new airline flight deals, or booking with a specific hotel. All of these are based on brands
The Influencer vs. the Ambassador: Who Do You Choose?
There are two terms to remember when thinking of individuals who speak to your consumers for your brands. There’s the brand ambassador, who is made to become the face of the brand. Influencer marketing companies shine in finding and hiring a good face and personality that matches the brand. However, the keyword here is “hire.” Businesses hire a brand ambassador in the hopes of increasing brand awareness and converting these to sales.
They inject the brand into their daily lives seamlessly. But because they are hired by the brand and this is a known contract, consumers may be necessarily wary of what they impart. Business ambassadors aim to sell the product, not acclimate consumers towards a specific lifestyle.
The Influencer Magic
On the other hand, the influencer is more concerned with engaging their audience than being the spokesperson of a brand. They establish their following well before the brand has tapped them. Usually, brands will tap an influencer for their following, because they can see the value of the content they make.
When influencers market a brand, they also inject it into their lives, but it becomes more seamless. It’s possible that they have been using this brand to begin with. They may also find the brand to suit their needs. While there is also the concept of payment or a deal made for trying out the brand, they are not hired by companies. Hence, influencers can keep a certain sense of autonomy over their content, and be upfront to their following about their thoughts.
Going back to the travel niche example; a brand ambassador could be the new face of an airline company. This means that every time they fly to their vacation paradise, they will have to use the specific airline. For a travel influencer, they may endorse the airline for a specific deal they have. They may mention their seamless service But if they see another deal for another destination with another airline company, nothing is stopping them from telling their fan base about it.
Of course, holistic marketing does not mean choosing one over the other completely. Remember, effective marketing means covering all of the bases of reach for your consumers. Businesses need both ambassadors and influencers to push and prove their products to consumers.
Types of Influencers
If you decide to work with influencers, it’s good to understand the range you will be working with. Knowing the range of reach your influencer has will let you manage expectations and budget for your next campaign.
There are four kinds of influencers, based on the number of followers and effect on a brand. The micro-influencer has roughly 1,000 to 100,000 followers. They are usually hinged on a specific area of interest. Because of this focus, they can be viewed as experts in the field. They rarely expand their niche because even if they do, it will still be related to their subject matter.
Macro-influencers can achieve up to one million followers. These influencers have gained more fame than their micro counterparts, mostly by utilizing various platforms. It could be a combination of vlogging and content creation. Most importantly, they also know the art of making content viral, because this lets them get more followers. Note that by diversifying their content, they also dabble in a specialization they can be experts in. However, they may have more following but less authority in terms of the many fields they explore.
Mega-influencers mix celebrity stardom with influencer reach. Because their follower count is already in the millions, they are celebrities in their own right. Most of the time, they are tapped for the name rather than their expertise. Their endorsement also comes with a big budget.
Now, there’s a fairly new breed of emerging influencers called nano-influencers. With less than 1,000 following, they may not appear to be important to a brand. Yet marketers give them credit in so far as being influencers in the community that is beyond their brand’s reach with typical marketing. Think of them as everyday laypeople who may not be involved in your brand, but are able to tap new potential customers.
Influencer Marketing in 2020
Influencer marketing statistics suggest that 75% of influencers will still use Instagram as the top platform of choice to reach their following. The image-based platform easily rakes likes and follows because of easy-to-consume content. However, marketing experts are always on the lookout for emerging channels to reach audiences. The younger generation of consumers is attracted to TikTok and Twitch, because the short-form video on mobile approach is just as easy-to-digest.
Have the good marketing sense means being open to a lot of possibilities, be it platforms or new influencers to boost the business. Explore the following options when choosing and using influencer marketing.
New Roles and Faces of Influencers
Now that this marketing strategy has reached its peak, the look and feel of influencers have become more homogenous in nature. For some brands, there is already a blurring of the lines between influencer and ambassador. Expand how you view influencers, especially outside the common view of what and who they should be.
the three types of influencers mentioned earlier are just the start. Content creators now are no longer just restricted to their specific niches. They also evolve and expand to build on their social proof. This means they can become travel, food, and even art influencers, so learning how to weave your brand into their narrative will go a long way.
Partnerships are Profitable
These days, it’s hard to find a brand that functions alone. While traditional marketing focuses on how to make a brand #1, recent marketing strategies focus on how to make a community for the brand. Thus, a lot of influencer marketing examples of success stories show a brand as being part of a community, instead of being upheld on a pedestal that people look up to.
Look at the way brands communicate now. Before, they bank on harping only the benefits that a product brings consumers and the high status of being affiliated with such a brand. Now, brands look for partnerships, especially with brands that complement their own. For instance, in the travel industry, an airline brand may want to tap hotels, co-living spaces, and even AirBnB when creating launch campaigns. They create a holistic community for consumers. Because let’s face it, flying to a destination is just the first step of the ultimate vacation. And what an airline company needs is to not only provide the way to that vacation but to ultimately create the entire experience for the consumer, through partnerships.
[visualizer id=”1650″] Source: Mediakix
Influencer marketing is set to achieve $10B worth of spending, which suggests the amount of success and reach brands can get from them (Source: Mediakix)
Keep an Eye on Regulations
As influencer marketing grows in reach, so do compliance and rules. When influencer marketing was still at its infancy, marketers were still experimenting with how to implement guidelines and endorsements. However, now, influencer marketing is a top go-to approach towards boosting a brand.
A lot of brands struggle to learn the jargon or scramble to get around guidelines. If you’re one of them, consider tapping a good influencer marketing company instead. They understand the basic guidelines. They also know what can be the most effective partnerships and platforms to get without breaking the rules.