Everyone is talking about influencer marketing as if it is something brand new. The truth is, this form of marketing has been around for quite some time now. In ancient Rome, for example, gladiators were used for endorsing products.
They might not have had social media back then, but they still had walls to write on. Gladiators were essentially the sports stars of their age. Much like modern athletes, if they were successful, they had legions of fans.
Modern Day Influencer Marketing
Celebrities have been co-opted to sell products since ancient times. The difference now is our definition of who a celebrity is and our access to them as marketers. When it comes to “old-school” celebrities such as movie stars getting access to them and getting them on board with your idea is usually a difficult and expensive task.
The new breed of celebs is comprised of people who have built up a significant following online. This includes bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, and so on. Their defining feature is having a substantial number of followers who listen to them and value their opinion.
These online celebrities may not be as widely known as more conventional celebrities, but they can still drum up a lot of influence for your brand. Best of all, they’re generally not as expensive to hire as your average rock star.
You can pay them on a project by project basis, or enter into a more long-term contract instead.
The Advantages of Influencer Marketing
One of the primary advantages of this form of advertising is that the influencer has an audience that trusts them. They’ve built up their channels by engaging with their audience and putting out great content. The followers trust the influencer to recommend good products.
For many people, these influencers are seen as more reliable than your average, run-of-the-mill celebrity. When you see a traditional celeb endorsing a product, you know that they’ve been paid to do so. Influencers are seen as real people, and that increases trust in them.
As a business, you can cash in on this trust. It’s an excellent way to build brand awareness and promote your products. Businesses that do so find that this form of marketing is successful in 81% of campaigns.
The Challenges of Influencer Marketing
The toughest challenge is finding a person who complements your brand well. You need someone with:
· The same target market as your brand
· An active community of followers
· A good reputation
If you don’t choose carefully here, you’ll end up having to weed out a lot of unqualified prospects. Say, for example, that you sell lipstick. You’ll want this to be promoted by a fashion blogger or beauty blogger. It wouldn’t make sense to go with a tech blogger or a craft blogger in this situation.
Learning what kind of values the influencer promotes is also crucial. You need someone who will be a good representative of your brand. What you don’t need is an influencer who embarrasses your brand through their actions.
The downside of influencer marketing is that your brand may be at risk if the influencer does something ill-conceived. A perfect example of this occurred recently when YouTuber Logan Paul filmed an apparent suicide victim while on a trip to Japan.
The social media backlash was intense, and the video was branded tasteless and insensitive. Many brands pulled their contracts with this influencer. Paul later apologized and tried to explain himself, but that was cold comfort for the brands associated with him.
The other challenge in this sphere is determining the real scope of influence exerted by a particular influencer. There are many hacks out there for those wanting to grow their social media following. Unfortunately, one of those hacks relates to using bots to help bolster stats.
As a marketer, it’s more important to focus on actual reach rather than the total number of followers. Research suggests that micro-influencers with between 2 000 and 50 000 followers deliver 60% more in terms of engagement than influencers with millions of followers.
Their reach may be higher because they are concentrating more on growing their following. At this stage, they also still have time to engage with their followers. They’re able to answer questions and make suggestions about posts, and this can help followers feel more appreciated.
There’s still a lot more to influence marketing. If you’d like to learn more, check out the infographic by the folks at SmallBizGenius below.