By 2020, the influencer marketing industry will be worth an estimated $10 billion. The growth and continued upward trajectory of this industry has been astounding and is fast becoming one of the most important areas in brand communications for many businesses. Marketing teams are increasingly allocating large chunks of their budgets towards influencer marketing in a bid to extend the impact of their digital strategies.
A powerful tool
Partnering with influencers is already familiar to many brands as it can be a powerful way to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with existing ones. Influencers and content creators know their audiences better than anyone as they’ve built a following by consistently sharing content their audience loves. This is especially true if the target audiences are millennials and Gen Z. This notoriously hard-to-reach market spends many hours on social media, and they resonate deeply with today’s new breed of celebrity. In addition to stars with massive followings, brands are increasingly tapping into other key influencer types including micro and nano influencers. Stars such as MrBeast, Brent Rivera and Piper Rockelle are powering the influencer marketing economy by captivating audiences and connecting with millions of fans across a wide array of mediums and formats. They have legitimate reach and form deep, organic connections with audiences by creating engaging content; sharing stories, images, and videos with their dedicated, always-on fans, multiple times a day. They also have the ability to diversify across numerous social platforms and provide brands with the opportunity to amplify their marketing campaigns and cross-promote through the vast, ever-growing networks they have built. Thanks to the success these influencers have achieved to date, a number of forward-thinking brands are becoming increasingly encouraged to work alongside these leading social media stars. Their aim is simple; they too want to tap into these influencer’s sphere of reach, which potentially adds up to millions of socially engaged consumers. As a result, these brands are recognising the value of the influencer ecosystem – and they want to play their part.
Cutting through the noise
However, before pursuing a partnership, the brand and the influencers must ensure ‘brand fit’. In simple terms, the influencer must align with both the brand and its product. And this is where research plays an important role. The first step is to define the target audience; brands must have a real understanding about who they are trying to reach and which existing online communities their consumers participate in. The second step is to identify the influencers that speak to those target communities and the creative formats that can provide an organic opportunity for brands to incorporate their products or messaging. Rather than force-fitting a specific talent, it’s about building sustainable, meaningful relationships in the most genuine way possible. This is an area where a number of brands have fallen foul in the past few years. This has placed the importance of authenticity in influencer marketing firmly in the spotlight. Consumers have a hawk-eyed ability to identify and point out campaigns that simply do not align. For brands to cut through the noise and create a truly successful campaign, they need to retain their authenticity at all times, to ensure they build the trust and respect from the audiences they are trying to capture.The next step is to select the creative. The influencer needs to produce content that not only serves the community with the creative they would ordinarily expect but also organically weaves in the key brand messaging. Often, we look for existing and proven creative formats from influencers we know will prove effective a second time around – as long as we can create an effective twist. If the resulting content serves the creator, brand, and audience, the campaign will be a great success. Conversely, if it doesn’t serve all three, the chances are likely the campaign will have lackluster results, or worse. It could turn off the community it was trying to appeal to. It’s important to note that brands looking to partner with influencers should constantly renew their approach and campaign perspective – this will ensure they deliver something that is mutually beneficial and maximizes the value of their partnership. Together, they can create campaigns that reach their desired target audience and deliver the success they seek. Striking the right balance has a huge impact.
Influencers are set to become more plentiful and proven. But if brands are to successfully work alongside them and harness the benefits they can offer, they must continue to navigate and adapt to an ever-changing market. The creation of winning campaigns that can elevate their marketing strategies takes expert research, preparation, and execution. By successfully identifying and working with the right talent and creative a good ROI can be gained. Done right, it can have a big impact and enable a brand to stay ahead in a highly competitive market.