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It may no longer come as a surprise, but influencers are more important than traditional advertising. Why? Because consumers want trusted recommendations from credible sources, not from brands themselves.
A study by Twitter and Analect revealed that 49 percent of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions. It’s simple: There’s power in people. This power doesn’t only drive brand awareness — with the rapid evolution of social media platform features that allow for in-app conversions, influencers are more important than ever for actually delivering results.
They are responsible for actually making sense of brands for audiences today on a global scale, so we need to start paying more attention. I’ve worked in the space for years with our influencer marketing agency, and brands are often under the impression that the road to a big ROI is one-way. They expect that by selecting influencers with huge followings and asking them to share content, they’ll get out-of-this-world returns.
However, it doesn’t work that way. Influencer marketing strategies require larger budgets and long-term scopes because that’s what truly makes an impact.
I’ve put together a few tips for making sure your influencer marketing strategy is smart, stand-out and successful.
1. The right influencer goes beyond authenticity.
A common mistake brands make is thinking an influencer with a big following will get the job done. They often forget to consider where their audience’s trust really lies.
Influencers build credibility because they are authentic and really believe in what they are communicating to their followers. This is what drives a super-engaged following. So, you need to be working with influencers who are truly fans of your brand to make an impression in their audience.
Big followings won’t make this happen. It’s actually quite the contrary, the smaller the following the more genuine the relationship between an influencer and their audience. There is a direct correlation between smaller influencer followings and higher engagement rates, which means you’ll make more of an impact with fewer followers.
The right influencers know who they are, what their audience want and stick to it — that’s what counts.
2. More is actually more.
Another expectation brands often have is that partnering with a few influencers here and there will get them results. Building buzz takes time and scale, which is why we always advise clients to work with multiple influencers over a longer period. Not only to reach a wider audience, but also to ensure your brand message gets the boost it needs.
We often work with multi-layer influencer strategies. This involves using a smaller group of top influencers, supported by one or more larger tiers of micro-influencers (who are followers of the top layer). In this way we initiate a trickle-down movement, stimulating content creation and community building, ultimately maintaining the momentum of your strategy and making sure the audience stays switched on during and beyond the campaign duration.
3. Think bigger than social media content.
One of the best things about working with influencers is that they are creators and creatives themselves. Use this to your advantage: Develop strategies that go a step further than social channels and incorporate offline events, video productions, online platforms and more. In this way you will not only maximize your paid media strategy, but also drive earned media value. Influencers will want to share the beautiful experiences you are both a part of with their followers.
4. Keep the ball in the influencer’s court.
I think one of the most important things a brand should remember is that today, what consumers say goes. As Inuit co-founder Scott Cook has said, “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
When you work with influencers, you are becoming part of their ecosystem, and not the other way around. People often say that influencers become an extension of your brand, but it works the other way, too. Let go and be open to a different perspective. Perhaps you have a piece of clothing that you intended to use for a specific functionality. An influencer could take that same product and use it, wear it, or share it in a way you never even thought possible.
The more you let an influencer steer the collaboration, the more organic it will appear, and the more engaging it is for your audience.
5. Influencers are for life, not just for one campaign.
Good influencer marketing requires partnerships, not one-time stints. That also means nurturing these relationships beyond monetary compensation. Influencers provide you with a direct funnel to your target audience, as well as invaluable feedback about your brand and your products, so show them that you appreciate them.
Perhaps you can provide them with a personalized video from an event, or a customised product. Make them feel part of your brand and its future. Strengthening the relationship might bring about innovative collaborations that will only help you in the long run.