Influencer marketing has become a mainstay topic in the C-Suite and is showing no signs of disappearing. In the last year alone, the burning question on every marketer’s mind has quickly evolved from, “Should we?” to “How do we?”
Now that the value of having an influencer marketing strategy has been agreed on, the many variables that go into a successful influencer program also must be acknowledged. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in virtually every pocket of the web, but one thing remains constant: the messenger matters. The brands that are nurturing long-term relationships with micro-influencers (those with a reach of 10,000 or fewer) are the brands that will enjoy the greatest rewards.
Having been in the digital marketing space since 1995, I have seen the same transformation with websites. Marketers were initially enamored with The New York Timeses of the world, only to shift the majority of their budgets to the digital space.
As the CEO and founder of a Los Angeles-based social media and influencer marketing agency, I too have experienced this shift. While it’s important to have a presence on the largest social networks, we have found that there is more return in working with the Snapchats of the world before they become, well, as popular as Snapchat is now. Brands should embrace the future now, rather than getting in line behind their competitors when micro-influencer marketing becomes mainstream.
For the majority of marketers still infatuated with “celebrity” influencers, this seems counterintuitive. When looking at potential partners, their first question continues to be: How big is their reach? And to date, bigger usually means better. Don’t get me wrong; if you have the budget, that’s perfectly fine. There’s a time and place for celebrity influencers, whether they’re traditional celebs or digital all-stars. But not every brand has six figures to spend on a single YouTube video, or even a single campaign for that matter.
We should instead be asking: How qualified is their reach? How qualified is their influence, for this product, at this particular point in time? When it comes to followers and engagement – no matter the size of our budget – we should be putting quality before quantity and relevancy overreach.
In a recent article, influencer marketing technology company Markerly reports that as follower numbers rise on Instagram, engagement decreases. It revealed that influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a “like” rate close to 8%, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a “like” rate of 4%. Influencers with 1 million to 10 million followers saw engagement plummet to 1.66%.
Look at it this way: As a marketer, would you rather pay tens of thousands of dollars for a celebrity influencer to plug your product once for their millions of fans (who, by the way, often represent the entire psychographic and demographic spectrum of mankind) or identify an army of micro-influencers who are already authentic consumers of your product to create a high volume of genuine, relatable content and conversation on an ongoing basis?
It sounds like a no-brainer, but most brands completely overlook the power of micro.
Authenticity, Where Art Thou?
Authenticity has sadly become a buzzword that is often abused in the same circles as “millennial” and “viral.” But when it comes to influencer marketing, I dare say it’s the only thing that matters.
Just ask Bootea and Adidas, which recently tapped Scott Disick and Naomi Campbell, respectively, to create sponsored Instagram content. Both of these influencers simply copied and pasted the instructions from the agency – along with pre-written captions, no less – directly into their Instagram post. If they don’t even care enough to proofread a caption for an image that they were paid tens of thousands of dollars to post, why should I care that they plugged the product?
The answer? I don’t.
According to the Mintel’s 2015 American Lifestyles report, seven out of 10 Americans seek out the opinions of others before making purchases. Of those, 72% are seeking opinions specifically from their own social media contacts, meaning people like you, me, and my neighbor Tim.
If I’m remodeling my house, looking to change my diet, booking travel accommodations in a city I’ve never visited, or making any of the other thousands of purchasing decisions I will make each year, I’m not looking far. I’m looking to the people I trust most.
There is tremendous opportunity for brands to dig in and mobilize the real people who are authentically engaging with their products and services every day.
Build It And They Will Come
This all sounds like a lot of work. After all, managing a handful of influencers is a lot different than identifying, aggregating, mobilizing and measuring a continuously expanding network of micro-influencers. But when it comes to matters of the bottom line, it’s worth it.
Jonah Berger, author of the New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On, participated in a recent study on the impact of micro-influencers on purchasing decisions and found that 82% of those who receive a recommendation from a micro-influencer are following the recommendation to purchase.
This is powerful stuff. And today, technology platforms exist that allow you to build a custom influencer management platform on which you can manage your influencers and brand advocates all in one place. So every time you’re connecting with an influencer for a specific initiative, you can bring them into your custom network and continuously engage with them in real ways, be it for new product launches, special events, or even just because, with a little VIP love to make them feel special.
What could be better than to invest in your own customers to market your brand to their friends and family? And if the thought of generating a high volume of quality, authentic content doesn’t get your marketing motor running, I don’t know what will.
[By: John Bohan] [Forbes] [Read More]