10/30/17 • Tackling the Trend of Influencer Marketing

As posted in The Gaston Gazette:

Everyone carries a cell phone, many of which are accessorized with a case. Ever heard of LuMee and its line of phone accoutrements? No? More than 103 million followers of Kim Kardashian West recently did as she sung the brand’s praises on Sept. 16 with a purchased advertisement on her Instagram page.

This is influencer marketing – the strategic word-of-mouth social marketing that partners companies with key industry leaders for campaign messaging. Whether touting a specific product or issuing a call-to-action, this trending type of communication tool has grown into a ubiquitous tactic discovered across online platforms.

So what are the most valuable tidbits to learn about this emerging promotion approach? Here are five insider insights into influencer marketing:

  • Connect carefully. If you’re a small town hardware store, connecting with Kim Kardashian West may not prove as fruitful as her recent LuMee endorsement. Choose your relationships wisely. Search for influencers within your industry whose messages often resonate with audiences. Yes, a huge following is great, but don’t focus on numbers alone; examine a person’s engagement. One million followers aren’t so wonderful if only 13 people commented on a photo. Ensure the audience is participating and absorbing the information shared by the poster. Additionally, select an influencer whose personal brand reflects your brand, and vice versa. The influencer won’t partner with you if they do not believe in the cause, the product, the company you are pitching, so ensure you feel similarly about a testimonial from this specific individual with his or her beliefs, ideals and public persona. Gini Dietrich, author and marketing CEO, said “It’s important to identify influencers who are truly a good fit for your brand, not just willing to rent out their audience.”
  • Consider the audience. As you decide which influencer to pitch, this person’s audience should remain top-of-mind at all times. Connecting with a celebrity whose reach is in the millions may seem ideal, but is an eclectic entertainment audience going to help you win new local clients or drive fundraising dollars? Assess a potential influencer’s followers and commenters – or even personally ask for comprehensive details – to guarantee your paid messaging reaches the audience that best suits your business. Whether a geographic region, a particular industry or a certain age group, this influencer’s listeners will be the only group to receive your marketing piece so it’s vital that their onlookers fit your ideal demographics.
  • Get social. Not every social platform is a perfect fit for every influencer marketing media. Business-to-business (B2B) companies, for instance, struggle with this trendy tactic due to a lack of influencers across their industries speaking to business audiences. LinkedIn, however, is rapidly growing as an outlet for B2B brands as well as other influencers. A July 2016 poll from the female-focused engagement network SheSpeaks ranked Facebook as the best social platform for influencer marketing at 32% with Instagram following closely behind at 24%. Both of these social media sites allow video and photography capabilities, which boost the possibilities for brands and influencers alike. Twitter has its limitations at 140 characters per post, although many influencers still retain considerable followings on this site. Pinterest and other sites, such as Musical.ly, often discover users in niche markets. Every platform should be considered then discussed within the partnership to best reach audience members and share the message.
  • Don’t break the budget. That Kim Kardashian West is likely expensive, and so are her celebrity friends. A flashy endorsement with millions of eyes sounds fantastic until you’re breaking open every piggy bank to afford it. Influencer marketing comes with a price tag. Set a budget and remain strict. Although some influencers accept alternative compensation for partnerships – free products, affiliate partnerships, commission – 70% prefer cash for their postings, according to Group High research. And how much can a single marketing ad run you on a single social platform? It depends on the influencer, his or her influencer status, reach and the industry. Group High notes that sponsored content most frequently costs a business between $200 and $500 at 42% of the time; 37%, prices are less than $200, but they can rise above $500 (20%). Do you get bang for your buck? Influencer marketplace Tomoson says yes – businesses typically generate $6.50 return in investment for every $1 spent.
  • Be patient. Unfolding a beautiful influencer marketing campaign and assuming your product will fly off store shelves is similar to airing a television commercial during the Super Bowl with the same expectations. Real results take time, influencer relationship development and multiple posts to engage and capture an audience. This communications tactic only works when all strategies come together cohesively, including several touchpoints and patience for effects. Dividends after sharing a message on various occasions can take three to six months with influencer marketing.

Marketing experts everywhere will tell you that word-of-mouth is the best recommendation received. According to Influence Central, 96% of women surveyed said they were likely to seek the opinions and recommendations of others for consumer purchases. Influencer marketing capitalizes on a society of perceived value and valued endorsements. This communications tactic turns the pervasive social media outlet and beloved industry leaders into paid advocates for brands they believe in, and thus, their audience believes in. And it’s a business tool to consider as you share your messaging in new ways.