The renaissance of influencer marketing
Imagine walking through an aisle at a superstore looking for your favourite brand of coffee. You might come across a variety of coffee brands with attractive packaging. You raise your hand towards the jar of your usual brand, but then suddenly you see the jar of a new brand of coffee. You wonder why the name of this brand seems so familiar only to realize that you saw an Instagram post earlier in the day by a physical fitness instructor you follow drinking the same brand of coffee. Would you buy this new brand of coffee over your usual brand, even if just to give it a try? If your answer is yes, then you have been “influenced” by an influencer marketing strategy.
Brown and Fiorella (2013: E-book: ch. 1) define influence as “a force created by one person or entity that causes a reaction in or by another”. Bringing this definition to a marketing perspective, an influencer is a person that can enable or persuade another to take an action desired by the primary marketer.
Influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon. It has been a part of the marketing mix for decades using opinion leaders and famous personalities to drive the consumers’ attention towards the brand. However, the rise of digital media has brought a renaissance of influencer marketing, making it an integral part of marketing campaigns across the globe. Nowadays anyone with a following can be an ‘Influencer’ with the power that social media has disseminated among all its users. A modern day influencer is not limited to being a famous actor or an athlete; it can be anyone with a knack of creating engaging content for their loyal following on social media.
A successful influencer has an influence over the things other people buy or opt for; though that influence doesn’t necessarily has to stem out of a recommendation or a word-of-mouth, influencers can simply showcase the usage of the product/service in their communication (e.g. the physical fitness guru drinking a specific brand of coffee) to their followers and can influence through mere observation by their followers. Couple with the multiplying effect of social sharing and viral content, the influence of the message can be exponentially increased.
It is also important to understand that the question for the marketer now is not to select between traditional marketing tools or influencer marketing. The aim of a good MarCom strategy should be integrating influencer marketing into the spectrum of their promotional mix to communicate in a more natural narrative way through an influencer rather than just blatantly pushing the product. An influencer can add more personality and the ‘human’ factor to the message.
With more avenues available for communication by the influencers such as Facebook pages, Instagram profiles, Twitter accounts, YouTube Vlogs and even their personal websites, marketers have more opportunities to select influencers of their choice and push their communication through them more effectively to the target audience. But it also makes it crucial for a marketer to choose the right influencer for their brand.
With the rising number of influencers, it is now more important than ever to choose the right influencer for your brands’ communication. Following are the few factors needed to be considered while choosing the most suitable and beneficial influencer for your brand:
Nature of products:
The selection of the right influencer for a brand can be made depending on the nature of the product as well as the communication aims of a campaign, for example, while choosing an influencer for a high involvement product such as a mobile phone, using a famous celebrity as an influencer will bring more visibility and add value to the brand perception though using a specialist in the category such as a tech blogger may bring more of a logical appeal to the brand.
Medium of communication:
The choice of an effective influencer also depends on the medium where the desired audience is present. While the trendsetting influencers usually are found on Instagram, the ones related to homemaking and culinary industries opt for Pinterest, therefore marketers need to keep in view the media consumption patterns of their target audience while choosing influencers. The age of the consumer also becomes a factor in choosing the right medium used by an influencer e.g. the use of snapchat in case of teenagers and college students has been found more influential than that of Facebook or Twitter.
Alignment with brand personality:
It is also important that the influencer’s own personality is in alignment with the brand identity and communication. Not only would it reach the target audience that respects and follows the same values and traits the influencer does, but also the communication through an influencer leaves a more organic and authentic impression on the audience.
While influencer marketing adds the credibility of an influencer to brand’s perception among the audience, this same effect can backfire in case of an influencer’s reputation being tarnished even in an unassociated event. A certain turn of events might change the same advantage that association with an influencer brings to the brand into a disadvantage by bringing the associated negative perception to it as well. However the benefits of having an influencer onboard outweigh the cautious approach, as the targeted reach through a rightly chosen influencer is highly desirable for any brand; whereas PR crisis can be handled tactfully through a well-executed crisis management strategy.
Influencer marketing has proven its worth as being an all-important avenue for promotion among the top brands around the globe. Though influencer marketing is not a substitute for the more traditional marketing methods, it has definitely become an imperative part of a successful marketing and promotional mix with the increased social media consumption among the target audience. With the right influencer, your brand communication would reach the desired audience in a more nuanced manner. With a successful influencer marketing campaign, both marketer and influencer are the winners as they both achieve their desired results – quality branded content and high engagement among the audience.
Brown, D. and Fiorella, S. (2013) Influence Marketing – How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing
S.M.Raza iQualify UK Digital Marketing Specialist