One of the most trusted ways a potential consumer can learn about and, more importantly, become interested in a product is through word-of-mouth. While traditional word-of-mouth persuasion still exists, it has grown into the digital space, and advertisers have taken notice. Consumers are instantly connected with the click of a mouse, presenting the opportunity to digitally share personal beliefs, opinions, and thoughts within their social networks. This opens the door for brands and advertisers to reach their target audiences more organically in the form of Influencer Marketing.
Influencer marketing, as defined by eMarketer, is “marketing that identifies and activates individuals who can sway the brand preferences, buying decisions, and loyalty of the broader population”. Brands tend to use Influencer Marketing, in conjunction with other advertising/marketing efforts, to reach audiences more effectively in an era where ad-avoidance is prevalent, in addition to showcasing new creative concepts. When using Influencer Marketing tactics, brands and advertisers should keep in mind the following best practices:
Look Beyond Celebrity
- According to Sysomos, while it can be beneficial to receive endorsements from social media stars/celebrities, consumers are more influenced by what their friends and family “like”, followed by individuals they consider to be similar to themselves. Therefore, brands should consider their target audience when choosing an influencer. According to eMarketer, “marketers should focus more on aligning with people who have a passion for a brand or whose audience is genuinely interested in the message a brand wants to promote. In many cases, that’s not going to be a celebrity.”
- Brands should research the considered influencer’s work ethic, and creative process, to ensure the influencer has a reputation for completing work in a timely manner. Brands should also research whether or not an influencer’s voice and visual aesthetic is in line with the brands image. Additionally, brands should research what an influencer may have said, good or bad, about them in the past to better gauge if the influencer is the proper candidate.
Give influencers creative freedom
- In Crowdtap’s influencer poll, 77% of respondents said one of the primary factors that would make them likely to work with a brand more than once was being granted creative freedom (Figure 1). Brands should not ask influencers to put content on their sites that would not resonate with their audience. In an interview with Forbes.com, Vine influencer Twan Kuyper states that, “If the branded content is as good as the non-branded content that fans expect to see on the channel, then that’s a successful campaign. The fans know that you’re getting paid; they know money is being spent, but what they’re seeing is in line with what they expect to be seeing.”
- As influencer marketing grows, measurement is getting better. eMarketer suggests that brands should focus first on engagement metrics and then layer on qualitative metrics. Brands should first look at total reach, audience demographics, views/impressions, click-through rates, and the number of likes and comments. Then they should look to see if those comments/likes are positive or negative, if the sentiment shows purchase intent, and if the influencer’s message aligned with what the brand was looking for. Lastly, while it may be difficult to connect these results back to sales, brands can start by providing unique tracking codes or links to ecommerce destinations in their influencer campaigns.
If brands/advertisers choose to use Influencer Marketing, following the above recommended practices will give them a good jump-start on finding the right influencer to deliver their messages effectively and creatively.