Why your brand needs influencer marketing

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Over the last few years, the remarkable impact of influencer marketing has been undeniable. With the market value of the industry set to hit $6.5 billionthis year, it is now more important ever to incorporate influencer marketing into your brand’s communications strategy. 

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With ad blockers on the rise and a decline in traditional media consumption, influencer marketing isn’t disappearing anytime soon. If you’re intrigued by influencer marketing and plan on including it in your brand’s marketing agenda, here’s what you need to know to get started…

Influencer marketing – what is it?

In simple terms, influencer marketing involves a collaboration between a person of influence and a brand looking to promote their product or service. Campaigns can involve anything from a single paid post on social media to an ongoing partnership stretching out over many years. 

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So, what exactly is an influencer? Debate surrounds this question, but they are generally defined as an individual with the power to affect the purchasing choices of their followers due to their authority, knowledge or relationship with their audience.

Primarily, influencer marketing takes place on Instagram – in fact, a recent studydiscovered that Instagram is used in 79% of all influencer marketing campaigns, compared to 46% of those on Facebook, and just 24% on Twitter.

Now, with the rise of ‘insta-famous’ personalities who focus on niche markets (e.g. fashion, fitness, travel), that personal brand can be utilised, extending a company’s reach and creating unique visual content for your campaign.

Why should you be using influencer marketing?

Unlike some forms of traditional media, influencer marketing boasts the potential to invoke and engage emotion from users who feel genuine connections to the influencers they follow. This advantage is quantifiable, with researchproving that influencer marketing produces ‘high quality’ customers who spend more money compared to those who engage with brands through traditional marketing methods.

 Authenticity and relevancy are crucial to the success of an influencer campaign; that sense of connection to an audience is the influencer’s biggest strength. It can take months, even years, to establish an organically grown audience, and even longer to yield high levels of engagement. 

Engagement is the holy grail of the influencer marketing industry, and more followers does not necessarily equal more engagement. On the contrary, engagement actually plummets as follower counts rise, with smaller ‘micro-influencers’ enjoying much higher engagement rates than their more popular counterparts. This demonstrates that, for marketers, influencers who are deemed more relatable can generate great results, despite not boasting high follower counts. 

How can your brand harness the power of influencer marketing?

Since 74% of consumersnow trust their social media networks to guide their purchasing decisions, there has never been a better time for your brand to seek out an authentic collaboration with an influencer – as long as your content is genuine and you don’t offer customers any unrealistic expectations.

First things first, your brand must know their demographic inside out before approaching an influencer – choosing the wrong one for your brand could deliver disastrous results. Audiences can detect an insincere brand collaboration from a mile away, so the product or service you’re advertising must align with the values and personality of your influencer.

After finding an influencer to promote your brand, the next step is giving them a sample of your product or service to provide the basis for their content. It is essential that what you’ve sent your influencer is what your customers will also be receiving; promising something you can’t deliver is a recipe for disappointed customers and terrible reviews.

What to avoid in an influencer marketing campaign

Used correctly, influencer marketing can be the making of your brand – just look at Glossier, an emerging brand who used a micro-influencer marketing campaignto achieve overnight cult status. 

Defining your brand goals is an essential step of an influencer marketing campaign, but it can also be one of the hardest. Ask yourself – what do you want to gain from the campaign? To earn more followers or website traffic? To increase your conversion rate? It is vital for these questions to be answered before initiating an influencer campaign. 

The now-infamous Fyre Festivalis a prime example of how not to conduct an influencer campaign – although the initial campaign was wildly successful in spreading hype around the event, the creators could not deliver what they had marketed. A host of celebrity influencers were paid substantial amounts to promote a luxury festival that didn’t exist, and the creator, Billy McFarlane, ended up in jail.

As a result of cases like Fyre Festival, new guidelines have been established by the Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) and the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), meaning influencers must legally disclosewhen they have been paid to promote a brand.

Ultimately, the thing to remember when considering an influencer marketing campaign is that relationships in all forms are about connection – develop a genuine one with your audience and you’ll reap the benefits but deceive them at your peril! 

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Author: Judith O’Leary

Judith O’Leary is MD of Represent