Beginner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing

July 18, 2017

What is influencer marketing and how to use it in my digital marketing plan?

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In this digital era, both you and your customers are digital natives. Investing more time and effort in the online community will help you to connect with consumers and establish a consumer base.

With the growing prominence of social media influencers, businesses seem to have no qualms on engaging in influencer marketing to help achieve brand awareness and enhance their credibility in the digital community.

But what is influencer marketing and how does it fit in your marketing plan?

Shift in Media Consumption

The prevalence of social media have culminated in the shift in media consumption, fundamentally challenging the conventional roles of consumer and brands – where consumers are passively consuming messages from the brand.

Instead, consumers are now empowered by the Internet to actively research online for reviews on the brand.  It’s precisely so, that the word-of-mouth advertising is growing in importance, where consumers exhibit more trust in what their fellow role models and peers say on social media platforms than what they actually see and hear offline through traditional advertising channels.

A study by McKinsey & Company revealed that “word-of-mouth” marketing generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and those acquired had a 37% higher retention rate in terms of repurchase and customer loyalty.

Therefore, it makes influencer engagement even more valuable as it runs on the economy of trust.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is”

                                                                       – Scott Cook, Founder and CEO of Intuit

 

He’s hit the bull’s eye on the changing consumer trends, and that’s what engineered the growth and impact of influencer marketing.

Especially in today’s context, consumers are perpetually inundated with brand messages pushed through to consumers via their little phone screens on a everyday basis. It’s not surprising that consumers are increasingly turning on their Adblocker to filter out ads and enjoy a better user experience. This makes it harder for businesses to cut through the clutter and noise to reach customers.

However, people are still extensively using social media platforms for consumption of information.

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular platforms in Singapore, with a penetration of 94% and 51%, according to Statista. For example, Facebook keeps users entertained with the viral content of videos, memes and articles. On the other hand, Instagram feeds users with a constant stream of aesthetically pleasing visuals and discovery of lifestyle, beauty and food.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing typically refers to the form of digital marketing strategy that capitalises on the influence of opinion leaders to reach an increased consumer base through their follower base (on social media).

Social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook provides the optimal avenue for thoughts and opinions to be heard by the online community, inadvertently becoming a powerful tool to shape and influence perceptions. Thus, it has become one of the popular options for brands to boost their marketing efforts.

Why Influencer Marketing?

One of the constant hurdles for marketers utilising digital marketing includes the challenge of giving the brand a ‘human touch’, which is essential to build trust and credibility from consumers. Social media influencers are able to step in to fill the gaps by creating content that is relatable and shareable to their audience, while creating conversations and building brand awareness.

Brands can leverage on the level of association that influencers have with their follower base, to achieve targeted exposure to the consumers that fit the bill. Because one who is already interested in a particular field will likely pay attention, e.g, a travel enthusiast is expected to follow pages and influencers that provide interesting travel tips and places.

 

By engaging in influencer marketing, you get to boost your marketing efforts in these aspects as well:

  • Native Advertising – By placing brands and products within organic content
  • Boost SEO – User-generated social posts helps to boost search engine ranking
  • Trackable – Every social like and picture posted online can be monitored for further marketing insights

So, for any marketer who is looking to reach an extended audience should hop on the bandwagon of collaborating with social influencers to enhance the authenticity of your brand image.

How To Use Influencers?

Engaging social media influencers is a complex process that involves multiple stages of planning.

Before embarking on influencer marketing, one should acknowledge the common pitfalls of collaborating with influencers, such as the misconception of “more followers = more influence = better influencer”. This is not reflective of the level of engagement of the influencer or the expected return on investment (ROI).

Instead, a better formula to determine the suitability of influencer would be:

Influence = Reach (no. of followers) x Expertise (knowledge in a specific field or industry) x Credibility (trustworthiness) x Engagement  (strength of relationship with followers)

Here are some tips on the process of engaging in influencer marketing:

Set Your Objective

Firstly, setting clear and specific objective helps to define the type of influencers to engage, type of platform and outcome to measure. It  also determines the direction of the campaign, and the key messages of the campaign.

Some questions to decide include:

  • What do you want to achieve? Brand awareness? Community engagement?
  • How much is your budget?

Know Your Audience

Next, having a comprehensive understanding of your audience helps you to determine what is the most effective platform to reach out to your intended audience, to tailor content that is specific for your target audience and amplify your brand’s intended message.

For example, if you are from the beauty industry trying to market your brand to consumers aged 18-25, you would not want to collaborate with an influencer that is from the F&B industry solely because the influencer has a massive follower base on Instagram. This is because the F&B influencer’s follower base would most probably be food enthusiasts instead of beauty lovers.

Therefore, in order for a campaign to succeed and create positive brand uplift, it is crucial to understand:

  • What is the audience demographics?
  • How do they consume media?
  • Who do they look up to as key opinion leaders and sources of information?

Influencer Profiling

Precision in influencer selection warrants extensive research before deciding on one as it greatly impacts the effectiveness of the campaign. Furthermore, social media influencers come from a range of industries – health and beauty, travel, food or fashion and varying levels of influence – micro, macro or mega influencers. By creating an appropriate categorisation of influencers can help you to narrow down and streamline the process.

Influencer profiling enables you to shortlist a few influencers based on the objective you want to achieve (brand awareness or engagement), and the relevance to a brand.

Adhere to the 3 Rs to help in your influencer profiling:

  • Relevance – to target market and brand image
  • Reach – no. of follower base
  • Resonance – potential level of engagement with audience

Methods of Engagement

If you want to grow an audience of followers around your brand, you need to increase engagement with the online community. Build up your digital footprint on a multitude of platforms to enhance your visibility and increase methods of engagement by creating online contests or Q&As for your audience.

For starters, you can partner with influencers to tap on their follower base and create online contests for the audience on Instagram – by getting the online community to comment or share the post to win freebies, or reward followers with occasional discount codes and promotions.

Alternatively, you could explore some of these options:

Facebook

  • Going Live on brand’s page
  • Online contests on Facebook

YouTube

  • Guest appearance on brand’s video
  • Influencer’s YouTube channel

Instagram

  • Image posts and stories
  • Influencer account takeover

Blog

  • Collaborating with influencers to get featured in their blogs

Evaluation

Lastly, decisions without data are shots in the dark at best. As with any digital marketing campaign, building a clear evaluation of your campaign helps you to stay on track, to monitor the effectiveness of your campaign and adapt swiftly whenever required.

Unlike offline marketing, there is a plethora of tools available to help you evaluate success of your online campaigns. This enables you to draw valuable insights from the overall campaign and formulate more effective campaigns in the future.

Using Influencers Successfully

Lastly, as businesses become increasingly cognizant and receptive towards influencer marketing, it is imperative to leverage on social media influencers successfully so that it complements your business goals.

Here’s a summary checklist for you to keep on track:

  • Ensure that the selected influencer is aligned to your larger content strategy and brand positioning.
  • Provide opportunities to speak to the professionals or stakeholders in your company. E.g, by allowing social media influencers to reflect opinions directly from your chefs and baristas help to provide authenticity
  • Determine reach and engagement; post measurement vs cost
  • Share your brand values, customer-centricity values with influencer. Repost their experience for social proof
  • Engage customers via online platforms (e.g, photo contest online, free cone day) to increase brand exposure and enhance publicity efforts

In summary, social media provides optimal platforms for businesses to establish emotional connections with their customers and their prospects. Boosting your online presence on multiple platforms help to humanize brands and translate connections formed into leads and potential customers. As consumers continue to turn towards social media to research for answers and recommendations before making a purchase, the voice of social influencers play a vital role in influencing shaping perceptions of products and brands.

I hope this article helped and if you have any questions on digital marketing, feel free to contact us. Cheers!

 

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About the Author

Ting Fang Poh

Ting Fang is currently a final year student at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). In her free time, you can find her trekking up in the mountains and travelling around the world to challenge herself. Having a keen interest for digital marketing, she is driven to learn the ropes and build a career out of it.