by Alejandro Martinez, Director of Marketing Intelligence
Influencer marketing is the latest marketing trend. According to Google, the keyword “influencer marketing” has experienced over 5000% growth in the past 5 years making it a “breakout” search term. A reason for its growing popularity is because as the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at their friends and social circles to inform their purchasing decisions. Consumers are skeptical of corporate ads and know that TV/movie celebrity endorsements can be purchased. They would rather listen to like-minded individuals and social media stars that are experts in their respective fields.
Here’s a perfect example of how influencer marketing works: 50 influencers posted an Instagram picture of themselves wearing the same Lord & Taylor dress on the same day… the dress sold out the following weekend, indicating the exponential value of the effort at a significantly lower cost than filming and airing a TV commercial.
How Do They Work With Brands?
Any person that has an influence on what we buy may be considered an influencer. The big difference among influencers is the size of their social network, the frequency with which they talk about a particular brand, and their short and long-term impact on consumers.
The first step in any influencer marketing strategy is to identify the right influencer. At a very basic level, you can split influencers into two groups:
Paid influencers: These are usually opinion leaders you hire for a testimonial, sponsorship, etc. Influencers are usually experts in a respective category (fashion, beauty, food, health & fitness, etc.) and can reach very large audiences. Ex: Top YouTube stars and top influencers on Instagram.
Earned influencers: These are unpaid or pre-existing relationships between the influencer and the brand. Earned influencers are getting a lot of buzz because the best way to gain customer trust is by aligning with somebody they already trust. Make sure that the conversations between your brand and the influencer are organic, true and authentic. If it feels too much like a promotion or advertisement, then the message may lose strength and can even backfire for not being genuine. Another reason this is gaining popularity is because ad-blocking technology is limiting advertisers’ reach. It’s much harder to block influencers (especially if you know/follow them) than ads.
Finding the Right Fit
A very effective earned influencer marketing strategy is to ID influencers among your current customers or social media followers (every like, picture, or social media post can be analyzed to see who’s getting other people’s attention). Once you have selected these influencers, you can target them with tailored messages that they, in turn, can share with their extended network. Secondary data can be a very useful tool to help you isolate the influencers from the followers within your core target and then craft tailored messages around their passion points.
Finally, influencers can also be split based on demographics. If we analyze overall influencer behaviors among U.S. adults (ex: survey respondents who highly agree to statements such as: “people like to copy what I do or wear,” “I’m good at convincing others to try new things,” “people come to me for advice,” etc.) we see that over half of total influencers (54%) are multicultural (Hispanic, Black or Asian) and 45% are White non-Hispanic. This number becomes quite significant if you take into account that 65% of U.S. adults are White non-Hispanic and only 33% are multicultural. In other words, there’s a much higher representation of multiculturals amongst total influencers when compared to White non-Hispanics. If we also add the fact that multiculturals are very active on social media and have large networks, then it makes good sense to focus significant efforts on this segment when thinking about implementing an influencer-marketing program.
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