Avoiding buyer’s remorse with influencer marketing.
The rise of career influencers — people for whom influencing is a full time job has always fascinated me. Like many Marketing Managers, I have on occasion engaged them in spirited debates, fought tooth and nail to get budgets slashed and more times than I care to admit, wished I could wake up to +50k followers, so I could add “Influencer” to my bio and travel the world on a brand’s budget.
In the course of working on tens of campaigns, I have come to see that influencers, although in many cases more expensive than other marketing channels, are necessary for success. This is in large part the result of the online boom. Every business- small, mid or huge is attempting to get attention on the internet with ads/sponsored posts. As such, there is an almost insurmountable amount of noise.
What’s more is that consumers stopped trusting brands a few generations ago and have become extremely skeptical about self promoting messaging. Today, influencers are marketing’s equivalent of getting recommended for a job. In the same way that you’re 80% more likely to get a job through a referral, your audience is more likely to regard and trust your messages coming from beloved influencers.
Where the difficulty often lies is in figuring out how to use influencers and measure performance.
My first advice to brands and SMEs is that there’s some work to be done before jumping into the waters of influencer marketing. First, you need to spend time figuring your brand out. Understanding who your target marketing is and creating detailed customer profiles that help you convincingly answer the questions “Who are my customers?,” “What are they interested in?,” What do they need?,” and “What kind of messaging do they respond to?.”
Next, is to properly define what success means for you. Influence is contextual so what makes an influencer right and a campaign successful is largely dependent on what you want them to accomplish. The trick with setting goals is to be as specific as possible. Stay away from wishy-washy targets like “Increase awareness” and “grow the brand.” Not only are these targets a given with any influencer worth their salt, they’re essentially meaningless. Set super specific metrics that contribute to your KPIs complete with timelines. Campaign goals could be “Sell 1000 extra products within one month of campaign launch” or “Double growth in app signups in three months.”
Step three is to check for brand:influencer fit. In the same way that you will do a compatibility audit before getting into a relationship, you must interrogate for fit when choosing an influencer(s). Fit could mean checking to see if the influencer’s image is compatible with yours i.e a family friendly brand for example will find that using an influencer that is building their brand image around sex appeal is a misfit. Fit could also mean checking to see what the overlap is between your desired audience and that of the influencer. As an example, a 21 year old musician with lots of teenage fans is not the right fit for an alcohol brand in the same way that a luxury airline will find that a lifestyle influencer with 10,000 followers but who speaks to a demographic with significantly higher purchasing power is more valuable to them than one with one million followers who does not appeal to your niche.
Still on the topic of fit, yet another infrequently discussed fit check is “how easy is it to manage this influencer?” There’s the need to ask around and do a bit of research before deciding to work with an influencer (especially when the cheque is significant). Some influencers have reputations for being difficult to manage and you want to either steer clear or at least have iron clad contracts in place to protect you.
The fourth step is to check for credibility. Your focus should be on finding influencers who the audience perceives as authentic. On the one hand, credibility is finding influencers who the audience can believe really use your brand. It’s incredulous for example, to see multi-millionaires in foreign currency influence or serve as ambassadors for brands that are inherently associated with the C class and mass consumer.
Credibility is also in the numbers, as they are a good test of how much people actually care about the influencers messages. With followers becoming increasingly a vanity metric, you should focus on checking for reach, engagement and shares. Important to beware of influencer fraud as engagement can be bought. Train your eye to spot comments that are filled with emojis or unrelated/generic babble and page likes or reach that fluctuates massively from one post to another.
Number five is to provide clear creative direction. While there are some truly creative and independent influencers, many influencers are akin to digital billboards and perform better with clear messaging already in place. This way, influencers can modify to suit their individual styles while staying true to your messaging and keeping things interesting.
Last but perhaps most importantly, remember that all good marketing is measurable and influencer marketing is no different. Keep track of reach, impressions, clicks and downloads, hashtag performance, follower growth (on your page) from influencer posts, etc. Where possible, give the influencer a unique code so you can see the direct conversions from each influencer and begin to build a database of your most effective influencers.
For small businesses and startups, when you’re testing out influencer marketing, try not to run multiple cross channel campaigns (emails, new ads, etc) concurrently. This way, you can see what the impact of each channel is to you.
The next time you have a campaign requiring influencers, I hope that you’re armed with all the steps you need to run a successful influencer marketing campaign…
And then that you proceed to negotiate the heck out of that budget.
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4 thoughts on “Are influencers really worth your money?”
This is a very good piece. Also timely as many corporates are going through this dilemma of to spend more on marketing/which channels bring the most needed traction or not. Thanks for the tips on how to make a decision.
Thanks for reading Ola!
Such an important subject Terv! Truly, our generation is numb to traditional forms of advertising. It has to be personal now. I also like your emphasis on fit. It’s never just about the numbers. It’s important to comsider how many of those people would actually take the influencer’s recommendation.
Side bar: I know quite a few brands TM would be the perfect influencer for ?