In today’s digitally focused world, many brands are embracing innovative ways to promote their products and services. Some companies have turned to influencer marketing as a means to enhance their brand awareness or increase their sales. Can successful influencer marketing campaigns be replicated?
Recently, Chinese tech giant, Huawei, embarked on an influencer marketing campaign. What can other brands learn from a successful campaign?
What is influencer marketing?
According to an article recently published on Scraawl, this form of marketing is “a new strategy that harnesses the power of individual people, or of certain types of individuals, rather than convey the message directly to a large audience. This approach relies on the awareness that people trust their peers more than advertising, so it’s more beneficial to spread your message to opinion leaders, who will then promote it to their followers. Understanding and utilizing influencer marketing can be used to help increase your business’s ROI.”
While influencer marketing isn’t a new form of product promotion, it’s definitely gaining interest in recent years.
Why is this form of marketing become a trend?
The impressive growth in recent times towards influencer marketing can best be attributed to three major shifts in the consumption of content.
- Ad-blocking tech: It’s no secret that ad-blocking technology is on the rise. As Google and other SERP’s battle this issue, click-through rates are sinking. With that, display ads are also not reaching the audiences they intended to. A recent article on Rank Ranger sheds light on the topic and recent Google changes and its potential impact.
- Social Ads: With ad-blocking tech on the rise, social ads are becoming a strong channel in driving traffic to content. Facebook and Twitter have been selling in-stream ads or promoted content for a while, now both Instagram and Snapchat are jumping on the ad bandwagon.
- Price of Content Creation: the cost of creating quality content can be an expensive venture for a brand. By employing influencers, brands can bypass these expenses and release the responsibility to the creativity and interest in producing relevant, interesting content. With the release of the content to influencers, an added and equally important aspect of influencer marketing, is the ability to leverage their social audiences to benefit brand awareness and interest.
In short, these three aspects highlight an important trend that in a world where content production is in overdrive, it’s virtually impossible for brands to cut through the noise and stand out among the crowd in their industry. That’s why many brands are turning people into brand ambassadors, who have more influence and a personal perspective to help the company move the needle on consumer decisions. By shifting marketing efforts around individuals, brands are able to attract, retain and engage with customers in a much longer relationship.
The real differentiation is when a brand really invests in their influencers and values the relationship. Even though influencer marketing may sound simple, identifying the right influencers and creating the right kind of campaign for their target audience takes a lot of work.
Chinese tech company, Huawei (pronounced hua-way), is a global leader in information and communications technology. In fact, Huawei is the world’s largest maker of internet switching equipment and ranked as the number 3 seller of smartphones after Samsung and Apple. Last year, the company reported sales revenue of $60 billion. In short, Huawei is a major player, yet somehow they don’t have the global brand awareness like their two competitors.
This less than positive report, forced Huawei to conduct research on the issue, which concluded that while people are aware of the brand, they may not be aware of the full suite of products and history of Huawei.
With this information, the company embarked on a campaign to shift the audience opinion via an influencer marketing program, or as they call it, a KOL (key opinion leader) program.
Huawei identified people who are neutral toward the brand. After identifying the right people, Huawei initiated outreach with these leaders, set up a webinar, and then invited them to one of the many global events, or for some invite them to their headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
In all cases, Huawei’s influencer marketing is solely done on an unpaid basis. Meaning that the brand does not pay the influencers directly, rather they introduce their products to the right people, allowing these individuals to create and interact freely with the brand.
Joy Tan, Director of Communications at Huawei, recently wrote that “KOLs are a force multiplier for all corporate communications, and companies that fail to harness that force are missing a great opportunity to help build a following and reinforce a brand. Getting started in influencer marketing is relatively easy: identify a pool of target KOLs, research their interests and degree of influence, and start making those connections. Not all of them will be receptive, but many will be; and you will have a new set of allies who can help set your brand apart from the competition.
In a recent study by Klear, they analyzed Huawei Connect as a test case for understanding the actual value of an influencer marketing.
The results of the social media outcome of this specific event are quite impressive.
- 258 Twitter mentions
- 42 Instagram mentions
- 51 Facebook mentions
- 16,900 total engagements: 7.2k on Twitter, 6.4 on Instagram, 3.6 on Facebook
- 116,000 views of Facebook Live posts
- True Reach: 4.6 million people
- Potential ROI: $128,900
(copied with permission by Klear)
What is true reach? It’s a proprietary technology that Klear created to analyze probability that each one of the followers will see a post according to his/her activity and engagement rate.
More importantly, is the dollar value that is attributed to the data and the exposure. Using the true reach, the dollar amount associated to bringing 11 people to a Huawei, far surpassed the cost of initiating a global marketing campaign in its classic form.
Lessons on Influencer Marketing
After looking at Huawei as a test case, here are a few tips on how to initiate and craft a solid influencer marketing campaign.
- Mutual Benefit: Designing a solid influencer marketing campaign means that both sides are comfortable with the terms and conditions. Make sure that the program is a real win-win. Swag is not a motivator. Influencers within any industry are keen to partner but when the relationship enables both sides to succeed.
- Research Each Influencer Before Engaging: Don’t just look at their following on social channels. There are many metrics that should be considered before engaging someone.
- Transparency is Important: transparency can make or break any good influencer campaign. Trust is the cornerstone of the relationships these influencers have cultivated. Make sure to be honest.
- Flexibility and Creative License: Any brand should allow the content creators and influencers to feel comfortable writing and sharing their opinion. A brand shouldn’t be strict in setting guidelines. Restricting them will only detract the final outcome of the campaign. Effective influencers don’t sacrifice authenticity.
- Respect the Influencer: Any brand that wants to run a successful influencer marketing campaign, needs to genuinely respect the influencers. Being kind and respectful of their time, creativity and ability to comprehend content. They are real people, too. So treat them with kindness and they will work their magic.
As influencer marketing continues to become an integral component of any brands marketing efforts, an important component is to select the right ones. While this method of reaching new audiences is still developing, it will continue to change the landscape in the coming years. As social-media platforms rise and fall in prominence, the platforms may change but a solid influencer marketing campaign will outperform any platform and prove to provide true value to a brand.