An interesting subject that has come to light lately is the subject of using influencers for marketing. Some people are saying that we are becoming immune to influencer marketing while others are saying it also comes with a huge risk because of the way some influencers' private lives are going. Then there is a sect of marketers that feel that there is no better way to harness product endorsement than using influencers.
Influencer marketing is more complex than it looks. It isn’t just using a well-known celebrity or expert in the industry to endorse your product or service. It is the entire execution of the influencer strategy that makes it a complex marketing tool.
Large Corporate Advertising Firms
With their reach to agents and managers of sports stars, actors, and celebs, large corporations generally have no problem finding a ‘star’ to endorse their client’s product or service. This is something the average marketer, let us say a freelancer, cannot just ask Tom Cruise to be in a sales video on their spy gadgets website (but read on past this section because there are ways!).
· Sponsorship: Red Bull sponsors Craig Lowndes which just a sponsorship is in fact influencer marketing. The fact the Australian Supercars Championship racing driver allows Red Bull to sponsor him is an endorsement for Red Bull’s product.
· TV Adverts: We see tons of adverts with superstars endorsing a product. For example, David Beckham and his relationship with the ‘Police’ brand.
· Magazine/Billboard Adverts: Again, a picture of a celeb next to a product or service. For instance, LeBron James and his picture on ‘State Farm Insurance’ advertisements.
You get the picture. If you are a big agency with an extraordinary budget for a nationwide marketing campaign, then as long as you close the deal with a superstar celeb, influencer marketing is easy enough. The only challenge is how much you pay them, and whether the celeb and his or her management feel that endorsing this product is good for business and the celeb’s image.
Such as, you can’t ask Tom Cruise to approve your Netflix movie stream solutions website if the same site also advertises VPNs which are used for torrent downloads. After all, Tom Cruise is well known for publicly denouncing copyright infringements and pirate movies within the movie industry and so endorsing this website would be a contradiction of his beliefs.
The Risk of Influencer Marketing
If Tom Cruise did endorse the above-mentioned website, then people would start to doubt his word. While there are many real-life examples of this happening i.e. a brand using a certain influencer to endorse their product only for that celebrity to say something outrageous in public.
Suddenly the brand is tangled in with the views of celebrity which usually results in the celebrity being sacked and a public statement from the brand saying that it does not condone that person’s behaviour. Not to mention the millions it cost the firm to retract current adverts and replace billboards, TV channel ad space, and so on.
There is an excellent article about the pros and cons of hitching your brand to a celebrity influencer here. It mentions Nike’s key influencer for cycling goods Lance Armstrong who was eventually stripped of seven Tour de France titles after he admitted to doping to win – not good for a brand that had so much invested in what is now labelled his ‘fake success’.
Small eComm Companies
For a small eComm business, there is no super budget or connection to send a proposal to employ the services of David Beckham or Tom Cruise. Small marketing budgets require much more work and effort. Some people argue that small influencer marketing projects come with less risk in terms of investment which is a whole new debate – in short, no matter the size of your business the budget matters!
· Research: One-way small eComm marketers can find endorsement is by researching professionals and celebs that have endorsed similar products/services.
· Execution: Using researched advertisements to endorse the product/service. This works well in the affiliate marketing niche because the brand may already use an influencer, and so the affiliate marketer can use existing videos of that celebrity endorsing the goods or services that are the topic of the website.
· News Reports: Health websites tend to jump on news reports that claim a study shows that Vitamin XX helps burn body fat. Suddenly, all the health websites will be quoting the new report by a famous scantiest or nutritionist as a way to endorse their product.
· Social Media: Using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are great ways to endorse a small branded website. The more comments, likes, followers, and shares the social media profile has, the more likely people are to trust it. The same applies to forums that cover the same topic.
There is a lot more effort and imagination needed for small eComm companies that want to use influencer marketing as a strategy.
However, the advantage is that the eComm website is not exactly pinning its entire success on a particular influencer. As a matter of fact, they have more flexibility to swap and change so if a celeb does fall from fame, the cost and risk are low to change things up whereas, for a large marketing company, situations such as Lance Armstrong in the Nike sponsorship could cost the brand millions!