The Concept : Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing refers to a form of marketing where marketers and brands invest in selected influencers, utilizing their social media outreach and micro-celebrity status of these opinion leaders to promote their services, products and branded content to both the influencers’ own followers and to the brands’ target consumer.
Who are Social Media Influencers?
“Social media users who have established credibility in a particular category” that “have the power to affect consumer purchasing decisions with their authority as opinion leaders”.
Social media influencers are considered as credible experts in their chosen niche(s).
As per past studies Social Media Influencers are often referred to as a type of celebrity or micro-celebrity as they are similar in their role of endorsers of a product or service in marketing campaign.
Difference between Social Media Influencers from a traditional celebrity- reach, engagement, perception, para social interaction with consumers, content creation, delivery and the type of expertise.
The rise of Influencer marketing
Google search trend shows a comparable rise in influencer marketing at the same time as print advertising has been falling. Searches for “influencer marketing” drew ahead of those for “print advertising” in mid-2017 and have remained that way ever since.
As per the influencer marketing hub’s benchmark reports (2019; 2020) states that google searches for “Influencer Marketing” have grown up to 1500%.
Large companies have doubled the number of influencer-based campaigns, with 300% more micro-influencers since 2016.
The Influencer Marketing industry has a growth of $3.2B from 2019, and the entry of 60 more Influencer Marketing agencies took place within a year.
The average earned media value per $1 spent has increased to $5.78
Types of social media influencers
Nano-influencers ( up to 10,000 followers)
- At the beginnings of their influencer careers, understanding the industry and to establish their personal brands – fewer than.
- Followers- mostly friends, acquaintances, and others who live close by.
- Personal accessibility and high perceived authenticity,
- They often generate the highest engagement rates of all influencer categories.
- Prospects for brand partners- more open to unpaid partnerships and free product samples in return for networking opportunities and increased exposure on social media.
- Most proactive influencers, in that they approach brands to inquire about partnerships rather than being approached themselves.
Micro-influencers (10,000 and 100,000 followers)
- Successful enough to make a career out of being an influencer
- Smaller than macro-influencers in both scale and scope.
- Audience- more localized to their geographic base, and most of their income comes from affiliate-link programs or occasional partnerships with brands (e.g., Nordstrom, the Amazon Influencer Program, Daniel wellington, mama earth etc).
- Often partner with multiple and diverse industries.
- Micro-influencers usually depend upon social media videos (e.g., Instagram stories), which help them connect with their followers and heighten their perceived accessibility and authenticity.
- Many followers find micro-influencers’ recommendations more genuine than those made by larger celebrities, whom they may view as more prone to “sell out.”
- For this reason, marketing managers are increasingly working with micro-influencers, who harness greater authenticity and trust and often are more connected to the needs and interests of their followers (Wissman, 2018).
Macro-influencers (100,000 and 1 million followers)
- Yet to gain celebrity status but nevertheless are extremely successful.
- Good engagement rates and can harness their large followings for substantial brand exposure.
- Macro-influencers can earn mostly through selective brand partnerships and appearances.
- These influencers are dominant within their subject domains (e.g., travel, food, music), and their audiences often aspire to be like them.
Mega-influencers (1 million or more followers)
- Who have created a celebrity status from an established expertise.
- But unlike celebrity influencers, mega-influencers, are people who lacked celebrity status prior to their becoming social media mavens.
- While they may be “internet famous,” they are typically relative unknowns outside their sets of followers.
- In contrast with celebrity influencers, mega-influencers often align their brands more closely with paid partnerships
Celebrity influencers (over 1 million followers )
- Enjoys public recognition outside of social media and is leveraged by brands for their large follower base
- Have been popular prior to the evolution of social media, though they now use their social media presences to support their careers and propagate brand partnerships.
- These influencers often have and major endorsement deals with well-known brands.
- Celebrity influencers frequently work with brands associated with their prior work (e.g., music or film), and this cultural capital lets them command significantly higher price tags than other, noncelebrity influencers. Though they tend to form weak brand connections, celebrity influencers can carry high levels of perceived expertise, which is another factor behind their high pay.
- Relatively low engagement rates
How to Select SMI for your campaign
- There are generally three approaches to engage in influencer marketing :
- Organic – You search for and build relationships with influencers yourself. You then carry out your influencer campaigns in-house.
- Platforms – You still run your influencer campaigns internally, but you use specialist tools to find suitable influencers and possibly other stages of the influencer marketing process.
- Agencies – You pay a specialist marketing agency to create and operate your influencer campaign for you, including influencer selection.
The organic approach is manually by :
- Search Instagram by hashtags
- Search by location for local businesses
- Subscribe to niche influencers.
- Study your competitors’ advertising.
Many business owners or marketing firms have sought to leverage the effectiveness of IM by purchasing platform access, licenses, and/or support for a variety of uses like:
- influencer discovery- Location (where they are based), Interests, Keywords, Brands worked with and Engagement rate
- campaign management
- Influencer payments
- Rating/ review
- Trackable links
- Fake follower detection
An influencer marketing agency is an organization that works with brands and influencers to run influencer marketing campaigns, predominantly via social media.
- Influencer marketing agencies strategize, execute, and manage influencer marketing campaigns for their clients.
- These can take various forms, including:
- Product placements
- Building social followers
- Contests or giveaways
- Theme or hashtag campaigns
- Creative campaigns
Why influencer marketing?
- Strategic placement of products/ services
- Ready made trust and loyalty to leverage the brand credibility
- Use of tags and hashtags- increased search results, reach and engagement
- Increase a brand’s social reach as they appear as mediators that engage communications with consumers.
- The brand’s content gets shared, liked and discussed in real- time.
- Social media influencers also strategically boost their contents for going viral that can increase a brand’s customer base.
- Cost effective
- Additionally, social media influencers help to maintain a brand’s reputation as with their active communication; they can turn negative perceptions into a positive one
- Improves a brands search engine optimization – back link of endorsement thus better performance in organic search
- Enables the brands to have better position in an industry- increased trust and loyalty.
The verification: Identifying the fake SMIs
Everyone wants to enjoy the benefits. But some do not want to put in the work to build an organic following.
- Fake influencers are people who do not grow their follower on their own but rather buy them by using various apps, fake accounts and bots.
Thus, No real influence and No real results!
- According to Unilever’s chief marketing officer estimates show that almost “15% of Twitter’s users’ may be fake while up to 60m Facebook accounts could be automated, or bots.
The key for improvement :
- removing misleading engagement;
- more awareness to brands and consumers
- improving transparency on platforms to measure the impact
How to identify them?
#1: Look for Unusually Low Engagement Rates
- Thousands of followers but barely any likes.
- So anything between 1% and 3% would be considered average engagement, and anything below 1% is very low.
#2: Analyse the Quality of Interactions
- Likes and comments can also be bought on the posts, in addition to buying followers
- Manually going through their post interactions- A lot of spammy and irrelevant comments
- They could say stuff like “awesome,” “great shot,” “lovely pic,” etc. Or they could simply leave emoji comments that would be applicable to most pictures.
- But every public Instagram account is susceptible to receiving such comments.
- So unless there’s an unusually high number of these spam comments, don’t be too alarmed
#3: Examine Their Follower Profiles
- Analyse the profiles of people who leave generic comments.
A fake account will
- Typically leave the bio blank or
- Include only a few details.
- Not have many posts, and sometimes they will have no posts at all.
- Some fake accounts may not even have a profile picture.
- And in most cases, they won’t have a lot of followers.
#4: Analyse Their Follower Growth Rate
- Usually have a sudden spike in followers at some point of time.
- The growth rate will then remain stagnant afterwards since they’re not gaining any new followers organically.
- Tools at a nominal fees may be used for this analysis
#5: Analyse Their Audience Quality
- You could also skip the rest of the tactics and go straight to this one.
- You will need to use a tool to run an audience quality check for potential influencers which are built specifically to analyse the percentage of real followers on Instagram accounts. E.g. Heepsy, Hypeauditor, MightyScout, Modash
- The final calculation is based on the overall quality of the audience, engagement rate, number of followers, and other important metrics.
- The results are generated based on their computer vision machine-learning algorithm
Type of collaborations and sponsorships
Sponsored Social Media Content
- Most common type of influencer collaboration.
- An influencer creates and posts content to promote your brand on their social media accounts.
- Gift your product samples to the influencer. You can encourage them to use your products and create content around them for your brand.
- Works for books, clothing, makeup brands, and many others.
- If you are simply gifting your product to influencers (and not paying them), they’re not obligated to promote you.
Sponsored Blog Posts
- A dedicated post that revolves around your brand’s products or services.
- The content focuses on your brand and may also include an exclusive discount code for purchases or a custom giveaway.
- You can also ask the blogger to mention your brand in a roundup post of products or services.
- In this case, the blog post will include a number of businesses including yours.
- You need to identify a set of influencers in your niche who own blogs or websites that have a high Domain Authority.
- If they accept guest blogging, pitch them some ideas for guest post topics that they may be interested in.
- Create some well-written, informative posts that they can publish on their blogs.
- Also, include a link back to your website that doesn’t look spammy or overtly promotional.
- This can not only expose your brand to the influencer’s audience but also drive traffic to your site.
- Influencer takes over your brand’s account and posts content on your behalf.
- Takeovers are both interesting and beneficial to the brand since influencer content is more effective than your brand-created content.
Brand Ambassador Programs
- Brand ambassadors use the brand’s products on an ongoing basis and continually promote them online.
- As a brand ambassador, the influencer shares posts about their day-to-day experiences of using the brand’s products.
- A shoutout happens when you pay a user to promote your brand or product on social media.
- They can be with or without a visual like video, images, or GIFs and can be used for any call to action (typically more sales, more followers for your brand, or more traffic to your website).
- Paid shoutouts are a classic influencer marketing tactic.
- When a brand provides the influencer something of value that the influencer can then offer to their followers through a giveaway or contest. The result is usually increased brand awareness and leads.
- They’re short-term, usually generate lots of interest, and provide value to both you as a brand and the influencer.
- An influencer promotes a brand’s product and gets a commission based on sales through the influencer’s platform.
- This is a bit skewed in favor of brands since the influencer only gets paid for actual sales.
- Brands like using influencers for affiliate marketing because having pay tied to production like this tends to make influencers more effusive about your product.
How much are the influencers paid?
- There are a number of factors that can impact how much an influencer charges for their services and its rare to find an influencer who charges a flat rate. Influencer marketing is a legitimate business and influencers set their rates based on what brands will pay.
- Things you can count on to have an impact:
- The influencers reach and engagement-the influencer might quote a rate based on their category.
- The channel they use- social media platform(s) utilised- different type of content and audience.
- Industry – Sprecialization, popular niche or niche with fewer options of SMIs.
- How many posts you want and if they include images, videos and audio.
- How much efforts and resources to be utilized by the influencer.
- Influencer demand – seasonal or campaign based.
- Usage rights – Influencers charge higher for the content which is to be reused.
- Exclusiivity – Clause with influencer for not promoting competitors for certain period of time.
- Agency fees (if the influencer is with an influencer marketing agency)
The KPIs to measure an IM campaign
1- Define the reach of your influencer campaign
- Followers – how many on different platforms, match
- Engagement rate
- Traffic- generated , tracking links
This information is accessible from your influencer’s various accounts via the built-in tools offered by most networks. You can also use specific tools that provide detailed statistical tracking of the activity on social networks.
2- Measure the engagement of your influencer campaign
- Clicks- measure the levels of interest shown by your target
- Likes- generates attention around your brand
- Reactions- even more engaging than
- Shares and retweets- creates a buzz, intention to spread WOM
- Comments- reflects interest of audience to engage in conversation
- Mentions- indicates discussion around your content, increases visibility
- All these indicators enable you to calculate the Earned Media Value(EMV).
3- Track the results of your influencer campaign
- Across all networks: promotional code with each of your influencers
- On Facebook and Twitter: tracked links in posts to track the origins of your traffic.
- On Instagram: cannot contain links, look at the popularity of your hashtags, visits to your websites or sales outlets compared to your campaign target, and positive feedback from followers.
- However, Instagram stories can now include tracked links (Bitly or UTM) that direct users to your website, blog or domain name,
- On YouTube: tracked links, Google Analytics is easily integrated into YouTube as both tools belong to the same environment.
Objectives of influencer marketing
- According to a survey of marketers by Mediakix, Influencer Marketing is effective by 80% of the marketers, and 65% of the influencer marketing budgets are expected to increase by 2019. The prime objectives of influencer marketing are to increasing brand awareness, reaching new audiences, and generating sales/conversions, And the trend continues….
If your goal is brand awareness…. Sheer numbers or a specific niche?
If your goal is conversions…..numbers or engagement ?