The emergence of influencer marketing in the social media realm has created a new type of challenge for many brands. As they grapple with the often complex questions around pricing, categorizing and ultimately creating & measuring value from partnerships with influencers, it has become even more important to constantly test, adapt and eventually quantify this form of marketing.
Mainstream use of influencers
Although influencer marketing can be described as “new in social media”, it is rooted in the use of affluent and influential celebrities that dates back to the times of Maryln Monroe. Their use was primarily through television advertising, or billboards.
Since the emergence of social media, the focus has shifted into the digital realm, as currently ruled by the smartphone. Brands have grown in not only using celebrities, but also everyday citizens who have gained some form of popularity in the social media space. With this use of “social media personalities” comes more niche content focused on targeting their audiences, and various opportunities to create value.
Performance, Performance, Performance!
Unlike television, social media allows for the ability to measure the performance of influencer created content. As easy as it sounds, this has become the part of the conversation that often leads to silence in many digital boardrooms.
A key question many brands have to ask themselves is,”What value does influencer marketing bring to my company, and how do I align it to my overall digital strategy?”
This question, as layered as it is, is important because it is one where you can always come back to when looking to measure the value this type of marketing can and could bring to your business, as well as in formulating any strategy or approach.
The varied use of influencers also plays an important part in how performance is tracked for influencers. The main mistake brands make lies in attempting to have one-size fits all approach in their strategic formulation of influencer campaigns, and their tactical implementation of the campaigns. Influencers are different. From nano-influencers (1000 – 10 000 followers) to micro-influencers (10 000 followers to 50 000), up to celebrity status. Some are thought-leaders, while some are trendsetters in their spaces – and with this, should be approached differently to leverage their audience effectively. It is also important to note that their audiences must be relevant and engaging.
What has occurred to many digital marketers as time has gone by is that aligning influencer marketing with other forms of marketing is important.
It cannot, and should not live in isolation from the rest of the brands campaigns, whether they are focused on above-the-line activity or below-the-line activity, they must be synchronised in order to fully utilize their value.
This is easier said than done due to the various touch points (content, influencer platform, creative timelines, etc) that need to be looked at.
Platforms like Instagram, which sees the most influencer activity, have begun to bridge the gap through tools like Branded Instagram Ads (Sponsored Posts) that allow for brands to not only amplify but track the performance of relevant content created by influencers.
The pitfalls around this form of marketing exist but having a clear and defined strategy for how they are utilized will save a headache or two in the long-term. With this in mind it is important that even with influencer marketing, a performance driven approach is taken as this allows for measurement and effective planning and targeting in order to meet brand objectives and align with the overall marketing.