The power of the digital influencer has been an emerging trend in marketing practice, with leading brands integrating influencer marketing as a key strategy in their advertising and marketing objectives.
In 2016 IM practice is being refined and optimised for maximum impact. Looking at the growth of the practice among brands and the apparent evolution of the industry, I have identified a number of significant emerging developments that will continue to grow throughout 2016. Government agencies working in the digital space should heed the advice to grow communities and service levels …
Impact is more important than reach
Get rid of the perception that someone with a huge following will unquestionably maximise results. The power of influencers is that they are celebrated within their category, so niche categories could outperform those with a larger reach because of their uniqueness within their sector.
The objective of outreach activity is to infiltrate an audience of your key target customer and collaborate with an authentic personality. Driving the propensity to purchase could be more powerful amongst an engaged following of 2000 people than a larger following of 250,000.
For success in IM, being able to benchmark activity is crucial. Defining a structure to quantify data is going assist how strategy is refined for long term success and growth. Have strong KPIs from the outset and ensure objectives complement your overall marketing strategy (both online and offline).
By knowing what you want to achieve from IM this will also benefit your ROI measurability. This doesn’t necessarily have to be transactional, although bringing it back to the bottom line is always recommended. Understanding the correlation between this channel and the bigger picture is paramount in knowing when you’ve hit your goals. Ask yourself “what does success look like?” and “why is influencer marketing an avenue of investment for my business?”.
Coming from a data driven agency, I can say that in understanding this you will have concrete measurements to apply to future activity for long-term growth.
Stop calling influencers ‘bloggers’
I recently managed a campaign where we partnered with a financial planner, a fashion designer, an interior designer and a former editor of Vogue. This diverse group all had one thing in common: an impactful digital presence. However, their value to the project extended well beyond blogging and their experience exceeded the remit of publishing weekly content on their site.
Influencers are life coaches, photographers, architects, qualified medical experts, nutritionists — the list goes on. By considering the activity solely as an opportunity to get an article on a blog you are limiting the possibilities of what can be achieved in this space.
Think long term, organic growth
A trend that I encourage marketers to move away from is the campaign focused approach that seems to be adopted more and more by so many brands. For success in IM, the approach needs to be much more integrated — looking at the overarching marketing strategy and how influencers can harness and complement different elements of your marketing objectives.
With my clients, I’m part of discussions around their offline PR, advertising and digital plan. Through understanding the role of each channel in depth I can then provide the best recommendations for IM.
Even influencers themselves are opposed to the “one-off campaign” approach. The clout in IM is creating personable and authentic partnerships. For this to be effective we must look at unity and sustainability; the key is to create advocacy. While a campaign approach can have significance in short term, reactive results, the real impact derives from an “always on” strategy.
A conversation is more authentic than a tool
This moves on nicely to my next point: IM tools that rank influencers according to engagement levels, reach, impact, shoe size (not really, but you see where I’m going) is only going to get you so far.
While they’re helpful in finding new talent and ranking a list where a high quantity of influencers is key, it goes against the very foundation on which influencer marketing was built.
Follow influencers’ channels, observe what they’re passionate about and, from this, create purpose between their channels and your brand. The whole meaning of influencer marketing is to drive conversations, so start by having one yourself.
Diversify your influencers and spread your message
You work within the travel sector, so naturally your first port of call for an influencer should be in the travel category, right? Wrong. Well, not entirely, but there are a few things to consider. Focus on finding the right person, not necessarily the right sector. When you broaden your horizons you might find an amazing chef who specialises in international cuisine and has travelled the world. Their audience is the exact demographic you want to speak to.
A common mistake that many marketers make is going after an obvious category. The risk in doing this is that your competitors will be doing the same, thus weakening your message of authenticity. Another issue is if you’re working with a high volume of influencers, the risk of audience crossover is extremely high. By diversifying your influencer database you’ll cast the net of reach further and can create some incredibly powerful moments through thinking abstractly.
Influencer marketing in 2016 is about becoming strategic, integrated and measurable. Build real relationships with purpose and collaborate in a way that has longevity to ensure success.