How to Use Social Influencers in Marketing
Influencer marketing may be taking the internet by storm, but in truth it is a variation on a theme that has existed in advertising since the beginning of consumerism. That of bypassing the cynical part of the brain that dismisses a product as advertising, by attaching it to a friendly face, familiar and trusted in another field.
What is the Origin of Influencer Marketing?
A prototype of influencer marketing had existed before the second world war in both Europe and the USA, where radio stations broadcasting from outside the target territories offered musical programming that featured doctors talking to the audience about, often dubious, health products and medicines.
However, the direct antecedents of influencer marketing can be found in the “TV Admags” of the 1950’s where familiar characters plugged items for sale. These lasted until 1963 when they were finally outlawed.
Their more recent equivalent are Home Shopping Channels where the character was supplanted by the channel host, exuding friendship from every pore whilst demonstrating jewellery and cooking implements.
How Do You Use Online Social Influencers in Brand Marketing?
In the online space however, funding models are different and it is perfectly acceptable for the occasional paid advertisement to be made directly by the host of an online show, or to be posted in social media or on blogs.
These widely-followed ‘celebrities’ are able to offer significant viewership and readership; they are particularly effective amongst people who have a cynical attitude towards traditional advertising methods.
The reason for the success is the link between the product and the user, rather than the self-congratulatory nature of advertising, Influencers bring credibility and expertise on their subject matter.
Brands will need to be aware that they are not engaging an ambassador, they are engaging a real person with real views. Whilst you would not expect a derogatory mention of the product, it is unlikely that you will receive the fawning coverage you would from a traditionally paid commercial.
Part of the skill of the Influencer marketing service provider is to ensure that the recipients of your review samples or star treatment at your press days are suitable for the items you are trying to sell and are kept happy and have a positive view of your brand.
Your Influencer Marketing Campaign in 5 Easy Steps
- Know your Brand and Your Influencer Profile Intimately
Make sure that the brand is known in detail. This is partly so that your marketing team are able to answer questions from the influencers, but is also important to ensure that those selected are the right people, with the right following to give you credibility.
- Decide your Budget
You are running your company for profit, and whilst some influencers treat their work as a hobby, to many it is a full time occupation. There should always be some form of reward on offer, whether it is as simple as keeping the review samples, or as complex as organising an entire weekend away. How much you should want to spend is entirely dependent on the reach and star quality of your influencer, but let’s be honest, many influencers are also extremely sharp on the business side, and will be looking for a payoff (or in some cases their management will be urging them to look for their fee).
- Track Down Influencers
There are numerous ways of tracking down influencers. For a very basic campaign, a simple web search might be sufficient, but if you are making anything approaching a serious investment you will probably benefit from using a network. In many cases however, it is usually cheaper and more effective to approach an influencer marketing agency.
For instance, DOM Marketing has access to more than 80,000 potential influencers. Because agencies deal with so many clients, it is usually cheaper and more efficient to engage an agency to do the entire job, than for advertisers to do the research on their own.
Our constant contact with internet creatives also alerts us to a host of opportunities that are presented by influencers themselves. You never know who is on the look-out for something to talk about, and it is usually agencies that get approached rather than individual businesses.
Once you have your targets on board, and you are awaiting reviews, we would always contact bloggers to get to know them better, check on potential future collaborations and generally make sure that all is well with the products and their view of your company. They might not be ambassadors per se, but they are working with you.
Influencer marketing, like any other form of brand building, is notoriously difficult to quantify in terms of sales. But, video views, increases in the sales of the products featured and an increase in site traffic following the publication of a video should all be seen as potential cues.
This will obviously be helped by putting the products featured as prominently as possible on the home page, or even placing adverts against the written/photographic content or overlaid as a card on a YouTube video.
However you achieve it, the key is to increase sales and brand awareness, and measuring the increase is key to this success.