Influencer marketing, when it started, was a little slow of the blocks. Many brands and businesses assumed the idea of person-to-fellow people endorsement to be superficial and hence needed a fair bit of convincing. However over time, on noticing the favorable results that social influence was having on a brand’s image and rate of sales, they were quick to switch sides. Influencer marketing today is indeed the new-age marketing, and can be considered as the ‘go-to’ mantra for a lot of brands across the globe.
But as they say in the world of marketing, change is imminent. Technology advances, consumers change, consumer-needs evolve. At such a time, it’s important for brands to be ready with their strategy change-ups. Not all brands can be pro-active enough to foresee the future. The least they can do is be reactive when they touch base with reality.
By no means am I saying that the days of Influencer marketing are numbered. But yes, the days of your three year old influencer marketing strategy might be. These are times when influencer marketing is evolving. It’s time brands knew the ‘what’s what’ of the trade.
Fact File: Recent findings indicate that Influencer Marketing is all set to become a $10 billion industry by the year 2020.
Your consumers know that you pay influencers
Let’s cast our minds back to the time when traditional ‘sales-centric’ advertisements lost its’ charm and effectiveness. Fraudulent claims and unrealistic promises aimed to force-sell products was something customers soon archived to their ignore lists. How do you think consumers might be reacting to your ‘high following’ influencers’ commissioned and sponsored statements? Yes, they know that brands pay influencers.
Customers want authenticity
Now that more customers are coming to terms with the role of social influencers, they are rightfully looking out for increased transparency from their brands. Even when it comes to their much-followed influencers, they will look for every opportunity to find signs of authenticity in their claims. The last thing brands want is for customers to perceive these influencers as co-branders; especially after paying them a hefty amount. The chance for this is more among influencers with a super-high following. After all, customers know that it’s no rocket-science that brands will want influencers or celebrities with a high following to advocate their messaging.
Hence it’s time that brands got smarter. Brands’ consciously moving away from macro-influencers is the biggest change in trend that is setting in.
Fact File: As per a recently conducted survey, as many as 94% marketers believe that transparency and authenticity hold the key to influencer marketing success.
Micro & Nano influencers
Brands are now looking to indulge more into micro and nano influencers to ensure authenticity in messaging. Micro influencers are individuals with a mediocre following (between 1000- 100,000), catering to a niche audience. They are generally considered by the mass as an industry leader or a topic expert. Although in terms of reach they are no match to macro and mega influencers, it gives brands the opportunity to communicate exclusively with a particular segment. It also helps them in sending out a more targeted messaging.
Nano influencers are further down the reach list with followings below 1000. They are considered to be opinion leaders of a particular community. Customers will find it easier to attach authenticity to the claims of these influencers having known them in daily life, or having followed them closely; as opposed to high-end celebrity influencers where everything about them is larger than life and superficial. Not only this, it will also save brands a lot of money as celebrity influencers charge a bomb. This will also give the brands and marketing teams with a tight promotional budget the opportunity to have a go at effective influencer marketing.
Fact File: According to a study, 82% of consumers have a high chance of actually listening to recommendations from micro-influencers.
Mistakes brands are making
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest mistakes that brands have been making is running after mega and macro influencers blindly, without any measurable metric indicator to justify their choice. It’s apparent that most brands are only concerned about expanding their consumer reach. The tendency is to see what renowned brands are doing and follow suit; thus creating a snow-ball effect. It’s not just the number of followers that should be the acceptance criteria. Before randomly picking one from the popular list of influencers, various other metrics need to be looked at like relevant demographic strength among the followers, the kind of people who share/comment/re-tweet the individual’s content, the kind of social gatherings and seminars that the individual attends, quality of content shared by the individual, etc.
Brands that leverage the power of expensive mega influencers are kind of dependent and overtly confident about them and the results they can achieve. As a result, they are not doing enough content review and testing. Brands should know the kind of content that works best for their brand. Not too many influencers will voluntarily do the ground work if brands don’t do it for themselves.
Brands now understand that this quantitative-only approach with influencers will only give them diminished returns looking ahead into the future. Micro and Nano influencers are definitely the next big thing in influencer marketing.
So who is the influencer for my brand?
The answer to this lies with the brands. Brands should first clearly understand the difference between what macro & mega and micro & nano influencers have to offer. Once that is out of the way, brands should look at what their objective of opting for influencer marketing is. If the objective is brand/product awareness which involves a lot of people having to gain access to the content, then by all means opting for mega & macro influencers makes a lot of sense as they provide a lot of reach.
On the other hand, if brands are looking to target a niche audience or a particular segment and want to disseminate relevant, targeted content, then micro & nano influencers are better bets. These influencers although have a small following, achieve excellent engagement. This is because the niche followers easily connect to the individual considering him an opinion leader or a father figure in their area of interest/expertise. Besides, as mentioned earlier they are inexpensive influencers when compared to the celebrity endorsers.
Brands need to be a little smart while choosing their influencers. Influencer marketing is here to stay and promises to bring results to brands provided they set a well-defined strategy. Of late, the increased dependency on influencers has seen brands compromise a little with their strategy. It has to be understood that no matter how big the influencers are, if the campaign strategy is not carved out expertly, then influencer marketing will only fetch so many brownie points.