According to recent projections, the influencer marketing industry is scheduled to rise to $13.8 Billion this year, with 75 percent of brands considering a dedicated budget to influencers. And while it may have seemed like a relatively cost efficient method of brand advocacy ten years ago, the influencer industry is a bustling economy in 2021, with everyone from emerging brands to well established luxury retailers hoping to capitalize on a grassroots campaign. And the reason is simple.
Consumers demand authenticity from a brand. Style icons are no longer relevant in the digital landscape. Today’s consumers want believability when considering a brand. They want to relate to the information they’re receiving. And that’s precisely what influencer marketing is built on. And that’s precisely what influencers deliver.
Or ideally should deliver. Influencer campaigns frequently fail not because they reach too high or too low but because a brand hasn’t found the right influencer strategy. And in an industry where fraud runs rampant among the estimated 37.8 million influencers on social media, choosing the right strategy when tastes change overnight might seem more like sheer luck than an actual methodology.
Clarify Your Goals
Without a clear definition of goals, any marketing strategy might result in diminishing the strength of your brand. But in an influencer strategy, it’s downright fatal. And not every brand is going to benefit from influencer marketing. More traffic from social media doesn’t always mean more conversions. Consider your audience. Who speaks directly to them? Is it a highly sought after macro influencer? Or a niche nano influencer who shares the same passions and values as their audience? Brand visibility may be one thing. But brand mastery is another.
This doesn’t necessarily mean high traffic or a higher number of followers. In fact, in many cases the opposite holds true. It’s been estimated that a micro influencer with only 1,000 followers has an 85 percent higher engagement rate than an influencer with 100,000. That’s because the difference between influencer marketing and traditional marketing is based on a two way exchange. An influencer is a reflection of their audience—not a two dimensional advertisement. Followers want to be part of an influencer’s daily life; that’s why they follow them. They want relatability from an influencer. And they want to be woven into a story, a narrative. Hopefully, your narrative.
Digital media is live media. And unless your brand is ready to launch, don’t be surprised if you gain virtually no traction from an influencer campaign. But brand readiness is not the same as product readiness. Consider your brand narrative today compared to two years from now. Will that narrative have changed? What factors will influence it? Demographic changes? Marketplace changes? Not every brand will be suited for every demographic. And today’s Gen Z will not look the same six years from now. Influencer campaigns may seem like a great short term solution—but always consider your brand’s longevity first.
Not All Platforms Are Created Equal
According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, the largest share in social media among the seven-in-ten Americans who use it daily isn’t Facebook in 2021. It’s YouTube. And that may likely change two years from now. But the two are wildly different in both content, demographic, reputation and tone. Focus on the platform which has the greatest potential reach for your customer profile. Consider that there’s over 60 different social networking sites in the world right now. Which is right for your customer profile? More importantly, which is appropriate for your customer profile?
Content Will Always Be King
And if your content doesn’t compel, no amount of investment in an influencer campaign will result in conversions. But content can be a two edged sword. That’s because audiences tend to have fickle tastes and can turn on an influencer overnight—particularly if they show the slightest bit of inauthenticity. Content may breed authority, but influencers who seem entirely unfamiliar with your brand profile will ultimately be transparent and deceptive; two of the most fatal traits for any emerging brand. Make certain an influencer isn’t just familiar with your segment, but an expert. And make certain you generate the content that puts both in the best possible light.
Your Brand is Its Own Influencer
And no influencer should be stronger than your brand. The focal point of your campaign is to increase visibility, not dilute it. Influencers tend to be branding experts because they are their very own brand. But can they convey your narrative correctly? Or are they conveying themselves? An influencer should be aligned with your own brand mission; and many are simply aligned with their own missions. And if your narrative is incomplete and you haven’t fully developed a mission, you might launch a few thousand followers. But they’ll be following an influencer, not you.
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