To begin with:
Consumers in the online marketplace are now more interested than ever in advice and opinions about new products. No matter how many elaborate digital marketing strategies business owners dream-up, studies show that opinions from trusted sources (or word-of-mouth) remain the most effective means to sway purchasing decisions. Pair this consumer tendency with the reach and immediacy of social media, and you begin to see the case for Influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
It's an area of social media marketing, where a brand promotes itself through individuals who have an influential presence on social media, instead of directly to their target audience. Because these Influencers have a strong impact on their followers’ purchasing decisions and online behavior, they can be a valuable asset to your business. Many companies use Influencer campaigns as part of a larger marketing or social media strategy. In the highly competitive online marketplace, the right Influencers help you stand out with your customer base.
Of course, the idea of using influential public figures to sell products isn’t new...
What is different now is that the realm of “influence” goes beyond the usual suspects like celebrities or sports stars. Popular YouTubers and Instagrammers have significant reach and credibility. Their content is consumed by thousands of people on a daily basis. To digital natives (Millennials and Generation Z), the opinions of social media Influencers are a staple of the Internet experience.
Social media marketing is only growing in importance as social media platforms overtake traditional media outlets, and mobile-first development transforms the way businesses operate. In 2016, Forbes reported that social media advertising would be an $11 billion market in 2017, compared to $3.1 billion in 2013. The real time, personalized engagement that mobile devices offer creates demand for content that is just as dynamic. These trends create demand for quality marketing content that goes beyond conventional print advertisements or television commercials. Even a multimillion dollar commercial doesn’t have the impact it used to when you consider that 89% of Millennials say they’ve cut the cord and watch their shows on Netflix instead of cable television.
Influencers are valuable to social media campaigns because they are engaging, responsive, and credible with their audience in ways that conventional advertising is not. Professional Influencers know how to fit smoothly into a brand’s marketing plans. Typically, a company’s social media marketing strategy will have a chosen Influencer create content about a product or service on the Influencer’s social platforms. While this is effective, businesses have gotten even more creative, and new ways to use Influencers are always cropping up. Companies can run contests, promotions or giveaways through an Influencer, generating a considerable amount of buzz for products as well as driving traffic to corporate websites. You can even leverage Influencers across multiple company-run platforms. For example, you can let your Influencer run your Instagram for several hours, and promote this as an event on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Collaborations and cross-promotions are opportunities to reach new audiences and even new industries.
In many ways, social media and business are a match made in heaven. That said, a savvy business must know how to use Influencers in its overall social media strategy, and how to evaluate their ROI.
As the saying goes: what gets measured, gets done. Let’s take a closer look at the ways engagement on social media is typically measured. But before you consider ROI, don’t forget to set clear targets or goals for your campaign that can act as measuring rods for Influencer performance. Do you have timebound sales or revenue targets? Or maybe you’d like to increase your company’s social media following by a certain amount?
Vague goals make for vague results, so ensure that your targets are S.M.A.R.T.:
Only when you know what you want to achieve can you compare it to what you are willing to spend for it. When it comes to knowing the ROI of an Influencer in your social media campaigns, it helps to understand the common metrics used to evaluate Influencers. Engagement metrics will give you insight into what demographic is interested in your content and what topics they care about. Also, they are valuable sources of feedback for your product or marketing campaigns. Commonly used engagement metrics are the tracking of comments, likes, replies, shares and favorites per posts.
Offering promotional discount codes is a clever way to measure ROI within a set amount of time. Offer discount codes on products and services that your Influencer can give out on their platform, then simply tally the number of codes that are redeemed before expiration. Compare this to the Influencer’s fee, and you get a quick idea of whether you are getting a reasonable return.
There are research firms that specialize in measuring the impact that Influencer campaigns have on ROI. Companies such as Datalogix and Loud Door use methods like offline purchase data and customer surveys to measure financial returns and brand awareness. Online tools like Traackr help you manage teams of Influencers and quantify the value of social media partnerships. Large corporations have an increasing hunger for this data as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition. Companies and brands are constantly on the hunt for ever more sophisticated ways to stay relevant and keep their customers’ attention.
Another way to increase ROI is less data oriented and more focused on consumer psychology. An Influencer that consistently creates quality content that followers engage with creates a space where people can share thoughts, goals, and build trust. Although this may not boost your sales target right away, know that the value of your brand is increasing as customers learn about your values and corporate personality.
Gaining loyalty is a strategic play for your target audience’s preferences.
Influencers have a key role to play in this approach, as they are on the front lines of real time customer engagement. If you only want them to push products, you are missing out on the real power of Influencers. A good Influencer can inspire followers to think beyond a brand’s products and to its mission and values. And this is what people ultimately connect to. The impact of this effect on your bottom line can be more difficult to measure, but its boost to your brand awareness is long term.
No matter what method is best for your company, the key is to have a way to track the impact of your campaigns. If an Influencer campaign doesn’t appear to have the ROI you were expecting, think about any tweaks you can make to improve your engagement metrics. The market can be quite fluid and some trial and error is often needed, even with the right Influencer. Monitor the early feedback from a campaign and adjust accordingly. This could mean refining key words or links in tweets or hashtags, or improving SEO content your blog posts. Shift focus between platforms and see if the engagement rate changes. A target demographic could have a platform of choice. For example, did you know that Instagram is the preferred platform for teenage girls? Well, maybe that’s obvious. But studies confirm it! In 2015 Pew Research found that 31% of women regularly used Instagram compared to 24% of men. Furthermore, that for teenagers 13 to 17 years old, 23% of girls compared to 17% of boys used Instagram. The lesson here is: to maximize your Influencer ROI, work with them to target your audience’s online habits.
So: Influencer campaigns are clearly not a “one size fits all” undertaking. The Influencers you use should match your product and overall social media strategy. As touched upon above, the demographics of your target market will also help you choose the right Influencer marketing approach. People’s attitudes towards subject matter authority and credibility naturally differ according to age. Surveys show that for Twitter users over age 45, household names are preferred as Influencers, while Millennials were more influenced by social media celebrities.
When planning an Influencer campaign, an Influencer’s reach will be the first thing that catches your eye.
The size of their network and following across multiple platforms is a good sign they know how to make an impact. But, before you commit marketing dollars to them, dig deeper. Reach isn’t the only thing that’s important. Also pay attention to an Influencer’s relevance and resonance. Relevant Influencers will not only produce content that keeps up with the latest developments in their interest areas, but they’ll be attuned to what their audience wants to see. The most relevant Influencers will have “go to” status – when followers want reactions to the latest products or industry news, they will jump on social media. Resonance means that Influencers can persuade their followers to act. This could mean making purchases, but it also means generating organic likes, comments, shares and retweets. High levels of engagement mean your campaign is having an impact on your followers’ opinions and behaviors.
There are three basic types of Influencer, based on the size of their following: 'micro,' 'mass,' and 'mega.' Micro Influencers have 500-10,000 followers, and typically occupy content niches. Their followers know them well and communicate often. Mass Influencers have 10,000-1 million followers, and their content has a broader appeal within an industry. For example, their content could be focused on travel, music or fashion; but their posts cover many different topics within those areas. A mega Influencer has over 1 million followers, and their content can vary widely. Also, their engagement rates tend to be the lowest of the three types. While there are definitely advantages to mega Influencers or celebrity Influencers (such as global visibility) many of their followers won’t be in your target demographic.
Understanding where these different types of Influencers can fit in your social media campaign has a tangible impact on your company’s bottom line, so don’t be swept up by the hype. When you’re deciding where to spend your marketing budget, partnering with an Influencer just on the basis of reach is a risky proposition. They could muddy the messaging around your brand, especially if they are celebrities who don't resonate with your demographic.
Targeted campaigns with smaller Influencers can reach your consumers in more intimate and authentic ways. Online marketers have long known about the value of smaller, highly engaged Influencers. Because they have the highest engagement rate, they often deliver more bang for your buck. Their content is closely followed by fans, and they are seen as very authentic. For example, if you're interested in kitchen utensils and cookware, you are more likely to trust a skilled chef’s recommendation on Instagram than a celebrity’s. Online marketing firm Markerly pegs the Influencer sweet spot between engagement and reach at between 10,000-100,000 followers, where the like and comment rates outstrip those Influencers with larger audiences. This puts the micro-Influencers and small mass Influencers in the ideal zone for high ROIs.
Finding the right Influencers for social media campaigns is essential to your overall marketing strategy. And with the demand for Influencers booming, marketing agencies are trying to provide clients with what they want. This means that some agencies without a strong track record in Influencer marketing are now getting into the game. Working with an inexperienced Influencer without the means to measure ROI on social media is a risky spending decision. You can end up depleting your budget without much to show for it.
SocianSelect.com specializes in Influencer marketing. Our social marketing experts pair the right Influencers with the right businesses to maximize clients' social media ROI. Since our professional Influencers are vetted and have a proven record of results, you can be assured that your brand is getting a great value, all while maintaining your target monthly ad budget. The Influencers we work with are experienced at creating organic, compelling content that is perfectly aligned with your brand strategy. Our Influencer Campaign Dashboard offers monthly reports on campaign analytics, including information on engagement rates and comparisons to your top competitors. The ability to drive marketing content and measure its influence in one place will save your company valuable time and capital.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, a mid-sized brand looking to scale up, or an established organization looking to expand your online presence, SocianSelect is ready to help you enhance your social media reach through Influencer marketing. After a one-time $99 set up fee, we can work with you to craft a social media strategy tailormade for your business on multiple platforms. And with the power to set your own monthly ad-spend budget, you stay in control of costs. As always, our experts will be there to support you throughout the campaign, providing guidance and advice wherever needed.
SocianSelect.com has the tools, talent, and expertise to take your marketing campaign to the next level. We’d love to learn about your brand and help you implement a proven strategy that's built for success.