An introduction to influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is using amateur, semi-professional or professional content creators who have built their own audience of influence to help drive your marketing objectives. The fact that it spans such a range of ‘influence’ can be confusing but that is what makes it new, no longer have you needed a publishing powerhouse to build an audience, the tools have been democratized so anyone can.
Influencer marketing is analogous to celebrity endorsements, which pre-internet was a way to capture the loyalty and share of voice of celebrities that aligned with your brand. This analogy also speaks to the challenges, finding the right influencers to work with, how you engage with them but also the ongoing risks that influencer may pose down the track.
Influencer marketing initially grew out of blogger, where bloggers would build an audience and loyalty. However it quickly grew off the back of YouTube, and then Instagram, which made it even easier to create, host and distribute visual content.
The benefits of influencer marketing
Like any new medium, there are first-tier effects:
- Capturing cheaper reach (because of less competition).
- Higher quality engagement because of lack of standardization and high loyalty.
- Greater impact because of the aforementioned two variables.
Influencer content campaigns also tend to be more agile; a lot of the time publishers have really set ways of doing things and as soon as distribution is put in place, they won’t want to mess around with it – but influencer campaigns are really flexible that way.
Most often, Bloggers don’t over-engineer their content, they do what it says on the label, which generally comes out in formats such as articles and/or photo galleries. The point is that as a brand, you know what you’ll get and it’s quick and pain-free to make any necessary changes.
Working with influencers, brands receive direct connections with their audiences. This is a great opportunity to connect with an already loyal follower base and have them see your brand in a new light. Often this comes through in the comments, where bloggers can connect with their audience and help build social sentiment.
In particular influencer marketing has also collided with two other trends, digital-first brands, and DTCs – brands that both have grown online first. And the growth of b2b content marketing, now all brands need a voice.
If I was to pick one benefit, it is that finding someone else who knows your area well – and will craft content around it, that is likely to resonate with your audience, can dramatically improve your reach and be additive to your brand.
- Find influencers who already use your product, i..e look internally. Look at email lists, look at key customers, it’s a lot easier to start from this.
- Invite influencers to an event that they can participate in, create content. Those that resonate with you could look to engage with further.
- Use an influencer platform to help identify influencers who have additive reach to your channels.
- Look at longer-term engagements, or a campaign, rather than one post. One post is unlikely to shift the needle. Whereas an ongoing series of content helps build trust, repertoire and to learn.
- Build a metrics model, to help understand success. Engagements, clicks, future purchases, increases in search traffic, increase in followers. All of these are signals of impact.
- Focus on geographic reach, influencers can come from anywhere, so focus on data related to your data geography.
- Continue promoting the best content. Don’t just let it sit on the shelf. Keep promoting it till it stops working.
Tactically Avoid Common Influencer Challenges
Using a platform like Nudge removes a lot of headaches, it helps commonize the metrics between all influencers, hold them accountable, consistent measurement means you can track ROI easier – and build your own benchmarks. Here are some others you may not have considered:
Challenge 1. Using influencers for specific audiences
Using bloggers for specific audiences is helpful for brands when it comes to raising their profiles. The Nudge Overlap feature helps brands understand if they have any issues with overlapping audiences, i.e. the same audiences between multiple influencers, and can thereby determine which bloggers that is providing the highest quality and who to back (get in touch if you’d like to know more).
For example, during a recent campaign, a client of ours were trying to reach a specific city and found out that 82% were within their targeted city, which enabled them to tweak their distribution and optimize their reach.
Challenge 2. Distribution Sources
If a brand’s not going through a bloggers network, they really need to keep an eye on distribution.
They need to be careful about which distribution sources they opt for, as the wrong choice can really hurt their efforts. So it’s important that brands understand how people are arriving at their content (social or direct are sources you’ll want to see).
A good tactic of getting in front of an audience is using paid distribution, as it allows brands to control and ensure the right audience are seeing it.
Nudge can verify that you’re getting people in the right area. Get in touch to learn how.
Challenge 3. Share Copy
One of the challenges can be that there are more things that can go wrong – like a non-existent social headline, or that the text reads ‘example example’.
For example, Nudge helped Bloggers Club measure 30 content pieces and ensure that their content was performing. For those that didn’t, Bloggers Club could push back on them to optimize share copy that wasn’t working to make sure they reached a positive ROI.
Trends in influencer marketing
- The hot trend is towards micro-influencers, rather than hiring a Kardashian for buckets of cash, finding more focused influencers who know your area more deeply.
- Creative engagements, look at takeovers, or curation, or collabs. Not just one-off posts.
- Co-creation of products/services/content. And in turn, cutting them in as partners on the upside.
- Multi-brand partnerships, finding an adjacent brand or iterative brand, and partnering with an influencer together.
- Instagram influencers are posting 150% more sponsored content than a year ago.
A good early reference point is looking at emerging culture and fashion websites, like HighSnobiety, to see where brands are getting creative at partnering.
What metrics matter?
Typically you want to think about reach and quality. How many eyeballs did you reach? And what was the quality of that reach?
Brands need to set a goal for how many to reach with their campaign. It’s impossible to compare an influencer with a publisher such as WSJ when it comes to reach, they have a small niche audience so you need to be upfront about your objectives.
Distribution is key here; a solid strategy will ensure you get better reach and retain its quality.
This is a common influencer KPI. Brands want to know that people are talking about their products.
Think about ratios, i.e. 50 likes and 1000 people saw it, would be 5% engagement. And use this to rank your content success. The Nudge Benchmark tells our clients to expect a social engagement of above 20%.
Brands need to watch out for earned impressions, as this metric shows that people are sharing their content and people come back to read it. Social Engagement and Earned Impressions go hand in hand. We’ve seen where earned impressions make up 60-70% of the social reach, which shows how essential this is as a KPI and how impactful influencer campaigns can be.
People are going to want to go into a store with an idea of what they’d like to buy, so their first step tends to be online research. So it’s essential to put conversion pixels on a brand’s home page, product page or other.
The metrics also serves to inform brands of which influencer that’s driving purchase intent, meaning budgets can be adjusted, and they’ll know who to work with in the future.
Conversion rate is a great additional metric which proves a campaign’s success. The Nudge Benchmark shows that brands should be seeing av average of 1-3% conversion on their content.
Do read more on creating your ROI calculator.
Consider, comparing influencer content not just against each other but all the content you create. Use a tool like Nudge to do this.
Depending on where in the funnel your content is and how it drives ROI attribution can change. But it is worth building a link through to your business outcomes, so you can see how it is derived.
Whether it’s Google a specific phrase, i.e. ‘nudge toolkit by Seth Godin’ or a click-through and a sign-up.
It’s not only important to see if it is driving business results. But as this Spotify content strategy calls out it is worth exploring the quality. Maybe an influencer is bringing in people who spend much more than normal. Or have a higher LTV.
Does influencer marketing work?
- Each week we scour the web for the latest data, insights, and trends around the success of content, including influencer content.
- The second quarter of 2019 was the biggest for influencer marketing, with a total spend of $442m. 18% growth in the prior quarter. – The Drum (July 15, 2019)
- 84% of 1.7b YouTube views were driven by influencers, as opposed to 13% for media companies and 3% for brands. – TV[R]EV (June 20, 2018)
- While viewing branded influencer videos, 93% of the time consumers’ eyes were locked on the content; this is 30% higher than the experience viewing a brand pre-roll ad. This high attention correlated to 2x higher levels of brand recall. – Media Play News (April 3, 2018)
- In a Nudge traffic quality study from 2018, we saw that the highest quality clicks to content came from influencers, with 1.22 attention minutes. Put in context, that’s 54% higher than clicks that came from publishers.
You should also take a look at our Delta Faucet case study, they used Nudge to identify what influencer marketing worked the best and way. Then doubled down on the winning playbook.
How do deal with fake followers?
Fake followers have been a hot topic – according to a report from last year, 12% of influencer had bought fake followers; put another way, that’s one in eight influencers – so this is a very valid concern. The other concern is following from outside your target geography.
Before you get into technical solutions, some ways to mitigate this risk.
- Ask for references from brands that have been happy. Working with an influencer is akin to working with a freelancer.
- Ask for their reports from their own analytics.
- Use a third-party tool, like Nudge, to verify the veracity of the claims.
- Bake this into the contract. This is a surefire fix to avoid most problems.
In terms of evaluating how much of their audience is bots, there are now tools for that like [Social Audit Pro and FakeCheck.co]. Nudge can also assist with benchmarks, qualifying the clicks out and measuring success.
- It’s important to keep an eye on distribution and understand how people are arriving at your content. When it comes to distribution, give influencers a budget for social promotion, not toward banner ads on their blog as they already have a solid audience. And don’t put the same distribution behind every influencer, look for quality and adjust accordingly.
- Ensure social shares are of the highest quality, that the headlines and images are looking good, as it’s an important way to pull in more traffic.
- Bloggers might be slick content creators, but they’re not always experienced in creating content for brands. Ask for content examples.
Each week we share the best examples of content across the industry, which includes influencer content. Here’s a few notable examples from over time.
Are there any you’d vouch for or like included? Give us a tweet @giveitanudge.
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