A year ago most people had yet to Google the term “influencer marketing” – and today brands who haven't caught on to it are behind the curve.

According to Forbes, influence marketing is "getting Hotter by the minute”. Also, as gathered by Thomoson a recent study, close to 60% of businesses are planning to raise their influencer marketing budget within the next 12 months. Adweek is calling influencer marketing “the next big thing.”

What is all this buzz about? Why is influencer marketing the hottest new marketing trend?

The answer is short and simple: because it works.

Influencer marketing is all about channeling a brand’s message through the voice of individuals whom consumers trust and like. These people are product savvy content curators who are passionate about sharing their opinions on their favourite brands with others through their social media platform.

They do not promote brands solely for the money. They do it because they genuinely like to be associated with certain brands. That is why, unlike paid advertising, their content is authentic, reliable, engaging, and interesting.

Influencer marketing is beneficial for both the brands and the consumers. It nurtures a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship between the two that is often absent in conventional advertising. Through the power of influencers, brands & marketers can turn prospects into loyal brand advocates. Consumers on the other hand, can get access to a trustworthy source of information.

Given the uniqueness of the influencer’s content and high engagement, the readers are more prone to share the content with their own followers as well. This amplification of content is another benefit of influencer marketing that sets it apart from other channels in terms of ROI, as word-of-mouth has 37% more retention rate and generates two times more sales compared to paid advertising.

Its advanced targeting capabilities also add to its effectiveness. Brands can find social influencers who have access to high-quality prospects that closely match their target market.

Conventional advertising media such as TV, newspaper, or radio can reach millions of people. However, due to their minimal and basic targeting capacities, a large proportion of this population are likely to ignore the content due to its low relevancy. Such targeting directly increases the level of engagement that the viewers have with the promotion.

Branded content is meant for a large audience, whereas influencer’s content is perfectly created to appeal to a very specific group. Social media enables people to create communities around certain topics, and they are actively turning to those communities to inform their purchasing decisions and to find out about the new trends.

With the amount of information consumers are exposed to on a daily basis, they have somewhat became desensitized to push advertising. They prefer to personally seek relevant information from those who are similar to them. Influence marketing enables brands to get access to relevant targeted audience who actively seek content, and thus are more likely to engage with it and make a purchase based on it.

What's the ROI?

Businesses are making $6.50 for every $1.00 spent on influencer marketing campaigns, according to a recent poll.

The reason for this high ROI stems from the long-term focus of influencer marketing.

Traditional channels mainly focus on short-term sales as their primary objective.

Influencer marketing is a great tool for creating an ongoing conversation surrounding your brand to nurture loyalty and trust which in turn translates to conversions and sales.

What's the Secret?

The secret of implementing a successful influence marketing strategy is in finding the perfect influencer with a high degree of similarity and reach to the target audience. Lack of alignment between the influencer’s image and values and that of the brand’s prospects can seriously damage the integrity of the brand and backfire. There are many online platforms that help businesses find and match with influencers who are similar to their market.

Love it or hate it, influence marketing is here to stay. Tapping on the advantages of social media and content marketing, influence marketing helps marketers to promote their brands to their consumers in a way that appeals to them. When an influencer’s followers receive the content created by an influencer, due to its high relevancy and authenticity, they are more likely to trust the content and thus convert.

[By Mona Akhavi] [Read More] [Image from thenewpotato.com]

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