Look at your social feed today and you’ll find many posts featuring some form of influencer marketing. Breathtaking lifestyle imagery, the latest fashion, beauty and health products and more. All sandwiched between photos of your friends and family.
These posts have likely grabbed your attention and even influenced a buy decision.
These influencers have fast evolved into an effective and scalable marketing channel that brands can no longer afford to ignore.
• 86% of marketers engaged in influencer marketing in 2017, of which 92% reported it being effective
Marketers are spending more than ever this year on today’s fastest growing channel — digital influencers.
TALK POINTS :
- What is influencer marketing?
- What an influencer campaign looks like
- Elements of a successful campaign
- Why influencers are powerful for brands
- The challenges of influencer marketing
- The future of influencer marketingWhat Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is marketing that uses key content creators to drive authentic conversation and engagement around a brand’s products and message.
Easy, right? Not exactly. Influencer marketing still remains a gray area for many brands in the context of overall marketing strategy.
The good news: Today there is more knowledge, tools, and opportunities available for brands to leverage than ever before. More on that later.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is a social media user that can have anywhere from several hundred to several million followers. They drive conversation and engagement around a particular topic, discussion, or niche area. Influencers have their fingers on the digital pulse of a highly- engaged and loyal audience.
Why the rise of digital influencers?
Consumer behavior is shifting away from television and mainstream celebrities — toward social media channels and influencers driving content within those channels.
Interest in influencers has skyrocketed in the last 3 years
- Millennials are now the largest consumer demographic, will have $1.4 trillion in buying power by 2020
- Younger, cord-cutting demographics aren’t drawn to television and see influencers as more authentic than actors, athletes, and musicians
- As the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities. Digital influencers share valuable, user-generated
content. They are the trendsetters of the digital age.
They’re at the top of the newsfeed; attracting likes, comments, shares, and other forms of authentic engagement that many brands can only dream of.What Does An Influencer Campaign Look Like?Leesa, a direct-to-consumer mattress brand, partnered with trusted influencers in niche audiences to deliver unbiased reviews of their award-winning mattresses.
One of the challenges for the mattress brand was that most customers want to try a mattress before spending several hundred dollars. Leesa already includes a 100-day risk-free trial with their purchases.
But Leesa raised the bar by using micro influencers to generate positive word-of-mouth and build consumer trust in their brand.
“Influencer marketing has been an instrumental part of Leesa’s growth strategy since we launched in early 2015. Our launch strategy included seeding our product with mattress bloggers whose readers had high purchase intent, leveraging influencers across a range of mediums, and using strong referral incentives to help viral sharing.”
Leesa carefully researched their buyer persona for the campaign and targeted a very specific, highly-engaged audience :
- Internet-savvy women interested in home design
- Women interested in DIY projects and topics
- Shoppers interested in buying a new mattress“Being a digitally-native challenger brand disrupting a traditional industry, we made sure to laser-focus our influencer activations to those communities where early adopters and innovators were most prevalent.”Leesa’s influencer campaign featured:
- Micro-influencers across blogs and social media that hadhigh levels of engagement and trust
- Minimal talking points and plenty of creative space forinfluencers to make the reviews their very own
- Discount codes for each influencer to offer their followersto save money when buying a mattress
Bloggers reviewed Leesa’s products on popular mattress websites, giving readers unbiased reviews of Leesa’s product quality and customer care.
- The influencers provided value to their audience (honest reviews and discounts)
- Leesa earned rave reviews for their highly comfortable mattresses and customer service
- It was a win-win for both Leesa and their influencer partners
Leesa also gained valuable branding and authentic, story-driven content:
It allows you to tell your story in an authentic way while building a volume of organic, evergreen content that lives in perpetuity. We sought like-minded influencers to help us tell our story as a purpose-driven company with a strong social mission.”
A digitally native brand, Leesa understands the value of connecting with highly engaged audiences on social media. Leesa got its message to its audience where they spend their time most, through influential people they trust. That’s the power of influencer marketing.
The Three Elements of a Successful Influencer Campaign
There are three general elements that make up a successful influencer campaign. These are:
1. Clearly defined objectives
- The right influencers to deliver content that can achieve the objectives
- Effective measurement of campaign performance with relevant KPIs
1. Clearly Defined Influencer Objectives
Brands need to identify their goals before they can begin measuring success. Will you use influencer marketing to increase traffic? Boost sales? Increase followers and engagement?
Common objectives for influencer campaigns include:
- Driving brand awareness
- Boosting sales
- Generating authentic engagement
- Reaching new audiences2. The Right Influencers to Deliver Authentic ContentFinding the right influencer to target an audience is a critical part of every influencer campaign.
MyGlamm beauty products resonated with Lisa ,beauty- conscious audience for reason. The brand found a perfect fit: a passionate fashion blogger that aligned with the brand’s social mission of promoting healthy skin.
Influencers aren’t simply robots for hire. As a brand, you are investing in a relationship — with the influencer and their audience.
An ideal influencer will be someone that can:
- Actively engage your target audience
- Align with your brand’s core values and message
- Authentically promote your brand in an authentic wayInfluencers are usually placed into three categories based on audience size:
- Micro influencers
- Power middle influencers
- Macro influencersMicro influencersMicro influencers offer the most authority in a specific and narrow audience niche. These influencers have a smaller, yet intensely dedicated follower amount of 10,000 people or less.
Micro influencers are a hot commodity because they are more affordable have higher levels of engagement.
Power middle influencers
These influencers typically have an audience size ranging from 10,000-250,000 people.
Power middle influencers likely already have experience working with a brand.
Macro influencers are the big fish of the social media pond. These are the digital celebrities of Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. Their followers and subscribers can number anywhere from 250,000 to over 1 million people.
The potential reach of macro influencers will dwarf that of micro and power middle influencers. However, that wide reach comes with a lower engagement rate and higher costs. Influencer Marketing Tools
Influencer marketing has grown in popularity, so have the number of tools and services available to marketers. Many of these platforms are designed to make the influencer search and management process easier.
Klear – one of many influencer outreaches and monitoring platforms.
You can view our updated list of influencer marketing platforms and marketplaces here.
Who creates the content — the brand or the influencer? There are different approaches to creating influencer content. The most authentic content is Influencer Generated
Content (IGC), or content created by the influencer based on their experience with your products or services.
Leesa has found that minimal instruction and creative space results in more authenticity, which is what an audience wants. Exercising too much control risks the content looking like a traditional ad — something the brand and the influencer both should avoid.
Size doesn’t always matter — engagement does
The higher follower amount doesn’t necessarily mean that person is going to produce the best results for your brand.
As Laura Smous of TapInfluence says:
Engagement creates performance, quality content creates engagement, and quality creators create quality content.
3. Effective Tracking of Influencer Campaign Objectives (KPIs)
The greatest challenge for marketers was tracking ROI across multiple channels (DataXu). The wide variety of objectives possible for an influencer campaign can complicate a brand’s ability to measure value.
The good news is that tracking influencer your campaign doesn’t have to be that difficult.
There are several useful methods for tracking specific goals of a campaign (ConvinceandConvert).
Visibility: KPI’s for increasing brand visibility can be measured by reach and impressions.
Casey Neistat’s “First Day of Summer” video ended with a disclosure that all scenes were filmed using Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone. The visibility here is clear — this sponsored video was viewed over 4.5 million times.
The “First Day of Summer” video was viewed over 4.7 million times and promoted Samsung’s Galaxy S8 camera Engagement: Engagement can be measured
in likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc.
Michael Phelps’ sponsored post generated 15,000+ engagements for Leesa
Conversions: Many brands will want to track the number of times people completed a call-to-action. KPIs will vary for each conversion type. This can be sales (affiliate links, promo
codes), or even the amount of followers or email opt-ins gained during a campaign.
MyGlamm Beauty products tracked the sales performance of their campaign by using influencer-specific promo codes.
Whether your brand is focused on traffic, engagement, or sales — there are KPIs for every objective. Use these metrics to accurately measure the performance of your campaign.
Why Influencer Marketing Is Powerful For Brands
Brands are seeing strong returns from tapping into audiences with influencers. Influencer marketing generates authenticity, is cost-effective, and builds brand presence in the long term.
1. Authentic Engagement
One of the greatest values of influencer marketing is the potential to generate the golden commodity of authenticity. Creating authentic content that stimulates engagement is a challenge for all brands, no matter their advertising budget. Influencers are already out there creating authentic content that millions of people engage with every day.
In influencer marketing, authenticity is greatly valued as it is the main attribute that sets it apart from other traditional marketing methods. (MuseFind)
Bigelow Tea generated more than 32,000 engagements by teaming up with influential tea and DIY art bloggers to highlight healthy recipes and artwork created from the packaging.
Bigelow Tea’s campaign stimulated discussion around tea recipes and recyclable artwork and generated an 18.5% increase in sales, according to Shane Barker.
The worst mistake that a brand can make is sending a message that will compromise your brand’s authenticity.
Appearing inauthentic can be a brand’s (and influencer’s) worst nightmare.
Today’s audiences can sense when a relationship or message is ingenuine.
Authentic content engages your target audience. Your audience will want to interact with this content and then share it with their friends and family.
“This authenticity keeps an audience engaged even when it comes to promotional content created by influencers. And an engaged audience is much easier for brands to win over and convert to paying customers” writes Shane Barker.
2. Generates strong ROI — even for smaller budgets
Measuring ROI for influencer campaigns remains one of the biggest challenges for marketers. Should a brand define a return as an impression, a conversion, or a sale? It all depends on the brand’s objectives for a particular campaign.
Each metric will vary depending on the priorities of the brand. From strictly an ad spends perspective, some studies show influencer marketing returning as much as $6.50 for every $1 spent (Tomoson). This study may not be representative of all influencer campaigns, but there is a consensus
that influencers are cost-effective.
Brands don’t need to go wide for a successful campaign. In fact, the highest rate of engagement typically takes place in narrow niche audiences driven by micro influencers.
3. Drives Brand Awareness
You can have the hottest product, a beautiful website, and all of the fancy channels to go with it — but what does it matter if consumers don’t even know you exist?
Building exposure is one of the greatest values of influencer marketing.
marketing objective was to increase awareness of their brand’s high-quality, easy-to-install designer wallpapers.
The Challenges of Influencer Marketing
(And How to Address Them)
Working with a third-party social media user doesn’t guarantee positive returns. Marketers are still learning this channel; there is no single blueprint for operation. Mistakes can be made if brands fail to address the risks associated with working with influencers.
Measuring Value and ROI
Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing continues to be the most challenging obstacles for brands. This becomes even more of a challenge if a brand fails to clearly define its objectives, its audience, and its influencer persona.
Brands can better measure the success of their campaign by clearly defining their objectives and the necessary KPIs.
Aligning With the Wrong Influencer & Wasted Ad Spend
Brands must tread carefully when researching and deciding their target influencer. Even if you have laser-targeted your audience, your brand authenticity can be tarnished in a single post from the wrong influencer.
Logan Paul damaged his reputation (and that of his sponsors) when he posted a video of himself with a decaying body in the background. The video received over 10 million times before being taken down.
Brands can limit their exposure to this risk by doing due diligence into the influencer’s history to ensure they align with a brand’s core values. The rising costs of popular influencers can also be a barrier for some brands.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
As Millennials and Generation Z continue to gravitate toward social media as their space for getting information. Influencers
that drive engagement and content within those spaces will only grow in importance.
“Millenials and Gen Z shoppers have been desensitized to traditional advertising. Influencers that create authentic, compelling content are providing new ways to introduce these shoppers to new brands. As a result, shoppers are more open to the messages” says Hayes.
Hayes also sees some interesting trends taking place that brands should be aware of.