In a world of ad-blockers and ad-free video streaming, the marketing and advertising industry is continually evolving. The latest trend, influencer marketing, has proved to be more cost effective and successful for brands than conventional advertisements.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing in which the focus is on opinion shapers (influencers), as opposed to the brands’ target market as a whole. Businesses and agencies identify social media personalities who may have influence over potential consumers or are authorities in their industry to curate communication and marketing activities around them.
A great example of the integration of influencer marketing into product promotion is from Sony Mobile. The company used Instagram to promote the launch of their latest Xperia handset, the Z5. They used 30 instagram influencers to spread photos taken with the phones camera to find secret codes hidden within as part of a competition. By using influencers on Instagram, the company was able to demonstrate the devices new features and its quality to their its target market experientially. It was a highly successful campaign, resulting in over 17 million potential contacts.
How is Influencer Marketing Being Used?
As the influencer model has become more popular, a need has arisen to connect brands to the right influencers.
LA-based company Influential, has developed a platform that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence, powered IBMs by supercomputer Watson – to match Fortune 1000 brands with social media influencers. The company helps brands identify influencers by using demographic, contextual and psychographic information. By using Watson, Influential is able to identify traits that both an influencer and a brand have in common, and then match them accordingly.
Some of the best known influencers are video gaming stars, foodies, fitness enthusiasts, celebrities, well known social media personalities, models as well as YouTube personalities, think of the famous product un-boxing videos where product reviews are given.
This brings us to an interesting question;
What is the Difference Between Influencers, Brand Ambassadors and Advocates?
On the face of it – brand endorsers, influencers and advocates seem quite similar. There are however subtle and key differences between the three categories.
These individuals are on social media and have a large follower network that brands leverage to promote a product or service. Influencer marketers treat their blogs and other social channels as a business. They will usually give an honest opinion even if unfavourable to the brand and they value their own brand and follower opinions more than making the brand happy.
Influencers unlike brand ambassadors are not tied to exclusivity deals and can work with your brand and a competitor, there are instances where influencers can commit to exclusivity with a particular brand if the relationship has been fruitful, a case in point is model Gigi Hadid who signed a deal with the Hilfiger brand, while Instagram and YouTube star Lele Pons has an exclusive deal with Covergirl makeup line.
Brand Ambassadors and celebrity endorsers, are individuals who represent and talk about your company in a positive way in front of consumers. They do not have to have a lot of followers like social media influencers. They are hired by the brand in an exclusive deal. The ambassador is exclusively signed one brand in a particular category as to not have a conflict of interest – think Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods with Nike apparel.
These are customers who talk favourably about a brand or product, and then pass on positive word-of-mouth messages about the brand to other people. Advocates are more likely to become ambassadors than influencers are. A good example would be Oprah Winfrey during her talk show years; her reviews and experiences with brands would make or break brands.
Where to in 2018 for Brands and Influencer Marketing?
In 2017, brands and marketers heavily adopted Influencer Marketing as they saw the value of adopting this model as more and more conversations shift online.
4 Tips & Trends For Engaging With Influencer Marketing in 2018:
- Influencer exchanges should feel organic, like a friend recommending an experience or product and less like an old school advertising hard sell advert. Think of the ‘un-boxing’ videos you may have come across on YouTube and Facebook – these are influencer exchanges!
- Instagram is not the only influencer friendly outlet that marketers can harness. Facebook, Snap chat and Twitter are still influential and an influencers reach, is also determined by the medium they are strongest in.
- Due to recent changes in legislation, influencers are bound to disclose their sponsored or promoted posts. Failure to do so, could lead in government agencies getting involved (just as well known celebrity Naomi Campbell found out!). According to FTC guidelines, “this is to reflect the basic in truth advertising principle that endorsements be honest and not misleading”.
- Just as with SEO and digital marketing analysis tools that emerged when the model took off, tools and agencies that help manage the influencer relationship are also becoming more and more available. PR and advertising agencies are opening influencer management subsidiaries, thus helping their clients navigate the process.
So, is this type of marketing for you?
Well, look at this way; ad block technology has been on the rise and less and less attention is being paid to traditional advertising. The use of influencers to produce, distribute, and promote content is now one of the most powerful ways for brands to reach growing social media audiences.
Through influencer marketing, brands can provide content to their target audiences, through people these customers trust.
As an agency, every digital sphere we occupy including influencer marketing is built with the business objectives and needs of our clients in mind, finding the right fit for their products and services.