Just how effective is influencer marketing? Even if you’re not familiar with the specifics of these types of programs, you’ve most likely been a consumer of influencer marketing campaigns. Ever liked an Instagram post from your favorite blogger or social media celeb with an #ad or #spon hashtag?
If so, you’ve seen the power of influencer marketing, a strategy through which brands and companies leverage the existing relationships that influencers have with their engaged, captive followings.
No longer just a trend, an influencer marketing platform is now an essential part of the overall marketing stack for many companies and brands.
How effective is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing positions people to be strong ambassadors of a brand while targeting their engaged following. How? Influencers are typically paid a fee by a brand for their endorsement, which is shared to their followers via personal blogs, social networks, collaborations, and even events.
This is the digitized future of word-of-mouth marketing – and it’s significantly changing the marketing & advertising landscape. While display ads still resonate in some markets, like live sports television, influencer marketing is chewing up display advertising by driving more value and a higher ROI.
In fact, 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase, according to Nielsen.
Today’s reality is influencers drive results.
These stats (and more) prove there’s no disputing the magnetic pull of word-of-mouth marketing with the modern consumer.
Here are 3 things you need to know about influencer marketing, including why consumers are paying such close attention.
1. No Appetite for Display Ads
Display ads on Facebook, promoted posts on Twitter, and network television ad spots all have one problem: viewable ad impressions. This refers to how many viewers are actually watching the ad.
According to a study by IPG Media Lab and MAGNA Global, more than $59 billion will be spent on ads for television in the US, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be seen. In fact, the same study found that only 71% of TV ads are viewable.
Audiences are conditioned to change channels, leave the room, or switch tabs without a second thought, and unless your audience is engaged with a live event, like the Super Bowl, they’re not sticking around to watch ads.
The modern consumer also has tools available, like ad blocking technology to remove these ads from their social streams. This is literally the exact opposite of how consumers treat people they are influenced by. They are choosing to opt-into their opinions, streams, videos and thoughts — they aren’t going to block these people, ever.
2. Hear it from a trustworthy source
The premise is simple. People trust recommendations from other people they know – including people they know via their online presence.
While audiences are taught to be wary of or discerning about advertising, that standard is much less rigorously applied to word-of-mouth recommendations. Especially since 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services.
Additionally, 92% of 18-to-34 year-olds say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a product purchase – which makes word-of-mouth the highest ranked source for trustworthiness.
3. Better targeting
Digital display ads certainly have better targeting than traditional display ads (think an ad in a magazine, or a billboard on the highway), but they still can’t compete with the targeting associated with word-of-mouth marketing. People tend to associate with other people who share their values, interests, and habits – and that includes their purchasing habits. In fact, 67% of Americans say they’re at least a little more likely to purchase a product after a friend or family member shared it via social media or email.
For example, targeting associated with a Facebook ad is good, but it’s not that good. Influencers, on the other hand, have the ability to beam relevant content directly to the right audience – their followers. While it’s important to note that sponsored content doesn’t exactly mimic organic word-of-mouth marketing, the principles are the same. In both cases, you reap the benefits of getting your message directly to a group of people who are already eagerly listening.
Influencer marketing is significantly on the rise compared to traditional display advertising. Which leads us to discuss how to make influencer programs part of your marketing plan.
Influencer Marketing as a Marketing Tool
Influencer marketing programs present unique challenges and opportunities for brands. By cultivating a network of engaged influencers and ambassadors who can support your existing marketing campaigns, you position your brand for success in today’s influencer-driven marketplace.
But not all influencers are created equal. Coordinating influencer campaigns can be time-consuming, and the campaigns themselves can be costly, depending on the fees you pay to partners. Here are three ways to ensure your influencer marketing strategy pays off.
1. Identify influencers who connect with your brand’s core values and who will engage on multiple platforms multiple times
Vetting your influencers is a hugely important part of any campaign, and it’s not just a numbers game. Sure, you can look at a potential influencer’s number of followers to get an idea of their social media presence and clout, but your analysis should go beyond that. Influencers who have a natural affinity with your brand and its core values can create more compelling content than someone with a million or more followers but less personal interest in the product.
Similarly, as studies have shown that potential consumers often only convert to traffic or customers after seeing a product multiple times, you want to identify whether influencers are meaningfully engaged with followers on multiple platforms. Can they create content that’s authentic and more than just a one-off? Before you sign paid contracts for influencers, make sure they are skillfully creating content on multiple channels, and that your brand’s values sync with theirs.
2. Don’t forget to utilize organic influencer marketing in addition to paid influencer marketing
Your brand might get the most exposure, numerically speaking, from a celebrity that has a large social following, but partnering with loyal customers – or brand ambassadors – can be even more beneficial for your brand and a lot friendlier to your budget.
Ambassadors are in it for the perks and their love of the brand, not the pay, which means that their content can really capture the heart and soul of your product and company.
Additionally, an influencer program that relies on ambassadors is a great way to integrate a specialized referral program. By providing an avenue for content created by your brand’s biggest fans, you build a well-oiled marketing machine that runs on dedication and doesn’t require the same level of vetting as other types of influencer marketing.
3. Use influencer campaigns to bolster traditional multi-channel marketing
While influencer marketing has eclipsed its trendy beginnings, it’s still no replacement for integrated campaigns that drive brand awareness, website traffic, and product sales. Internal marketing campaigns are easier to measure and analyze, and consumers expect reputable brands to have a considerable online presence of their own. Influencers can enhance marketing and diversify a brand’s target audience, but companies should use influencer campaigns to elevate their existing marketing, not rely on influencers exclusively.
The best way to ensure a successful influencer marketing program is to develop relationships with both paid and organic partners who can employ a multi-platform approach, all while using influencer strategies to augment your own internal multi-channel campaigns.