Find more information about influencer marketing and why it is important for your brand. I am an influencer and this is my experience ...22 Mar 2018 7053 Views
Written by: Amanda Claesson
I am what people would call an influencer. I have over 17.000 followers on a social media channel called Instagram, where I post pictures about my life, see figure 1 below for a screenshot of my channel. My strategy around Instagram started out with my passion for taking photos, travelling around the world, and the fact that I wanted to share this with my friends and family. Right now I would call it a fun exercise for me to build my own brand, since I’m studying brand management. I do get paid for some of the collaborations but for me it is more important to be true to your brand and think about whom you work with so you don’t loose credibility and trust from your community or followers.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumers it is- it is what consumers tell each other it is.” (Gensler, Völckner, Liu-Thompkins & Wiertz, 2013)
From a brand managers point of view I will provide you with 5 important reasons why you should incorporate influencer marketing within your marketing strategy. The quote by Gensler et al. (2013) is one important factor why influencer marketing is essential for your brand, and it is because you are loosing power to the influencers and consumers.
Figure 1: Screenshot of my Instagram account (Source: Instagram, 2017)
What is influencer marketing?
The relative new term influencer marketing is a process of finding and activating individuals that influence a targeted segment on a specific social media channel, to be a part of a campaign with the aim of reaching that segment, engaging them and increase sales of the promoted product (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). Another way of defining influencer marketing is that influencers act as a content creator to a small community of followers to endorse a brands products (De Veirman, Cauberghe & Hudders, 2017). With these two definitions, I argue that influencer marketing is a way for brands to build relationships with both a new audience, and turn their existing consumers into becoming more loyal.
Earned vs. paid influencer marketing
There are two sub-categories to influencer marketing: earned influencer marketing and paid influencer marketing (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). Just like it sounds, the first one is unpaid and the later are paid. From my experience with unpaid collaborations the brand sends out their product or service, the influencer tries it and then post content on her social media channel with her own thoughts around the product. For me, this is what most companies are trying to do, especially smaller and medium sized brands because of their limited social media budgets. Actually, big brands do this to and I think it might be because they want the post to be more authentic and not pushing out ads. When influencers are posting content to the target audience it appears more genuine and organic (Rogers, 2016).
On the other hand, with paid influencer marketing, the influencer gets sponsored and gets paid to post a specific type of content on her social media (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). From my experience paid sponsorship can vary from a brand telling you exactly what to post, to some rules and guidelines around the post. Larger influencers and companies work exclusively with this.
Find out if influencer marketing is an option for your brand
Before changing your marketing strategy you have to know if influencer marketing is suitable and a good option for your brand. Here are three questions to find out if this marketing strategy could fit your company (Ricci, 2017).
- Do your product or service have mass appeal?
- Do you have social media presence?
- Are there influencers for your target market?
1. Do your product or service have mass appeal?
The first question discusses if your product will get attention from enough people, for example, if you have a niche product influencer marketing as a part of your marketing strategy might not be suitable (Ricci, 2017). Products that are more general and target the mass tends to have the most success on both social media and with influencer marketing (Ricci, 2017).
2. Do you have social media presence?
The second question argues that in todays branding you have to be on social media and build engagement with your followers and consumers (Barwise and Meehan, 2010). Moreover, you have to be present on social media, and to have a brand profile is not enough. You have to be active to attract more customers, which eventually will lead to sales and more revenue, see figure 2 (Ricci, 2017).
Figure 2: Social media presence (Ricci, 2017)
3. Are there influencers for your target market?
The last question you need to know to be able to answer if influencer marketing is an option for your brand is to find out if there are suitable influencers that communicate with your target market (Ricci, 2017). In my own opinion, I think you have to be really smart about what kind of influencers you connect with, don’t just contact any influencers. Influencer marketing may not be suitable for every product, service, or brand (Ricci, 2017). If you answered no to all three questions above, influencer marketing is in my opinion not the best option for your brand.
Why influencer marketing is important for your brand
There are so many reasons why you should incorporate influencer marketing and allocate a budget for it in your marketing strategy. Below you will find some reasons why influencer marketing is important from an influencer’s point of view.
Consumers trust recommendations from influencers
With the increase in social media activities your brand is loosing power, instead your brand is what the consumer thinks of it (Gensler et al., 2013). This can easily be changed with influencer marketing (Bughin, 2015). Consumers trust the content and recommendations the influencers post. According to Bughin (2015) who did a study for McKinsey show that influencers have a high power on whether people buy your product or not, look at figure 3. In my opinion as an influencer I really agree, I have had so many people buying the products I have recommended.
Figure 3: Share of influencers and recommendations generated (Bughin, 2015)
The shift from celebrities to opinion leaders
Celebrities still have a role to play, but today it is more about the opinion leaders, also called influencers where the consumers get an honest opinion (Rogers, 2016). Another important thing is that you should not only focus on the number of followers an influencer has when choosing the ones that fit for your campaign (Callius, 2017). A celebrity might reach a large group of people, but if they are not interested in your product, it doesn’t matter. Instead, focus on how the influencers value in their posts agree with what your brand stands for, because it is better to reach a smaller but more targeted group that are interested in your products (Callius, 2017).
The growth of social media
Social media channels are rapid growing across all age groups and since these platforms are where influencers mostly connect with consumers this marketing strategy is essential for a brands marketing strategy (Barker, 2016). I mostly interact with my followers on Instagram and my blog where I post pictures and content. When writing this blog post, Instagram have reached over 700 million users (Instagram, 2017), which makes them the 4th fastest growing social apps, see figure 4 (Statista, 2015). Just think about how many people your brand can reach on this channel.
Figure 4: Fastest growing social apps 2015 (Statista, 2015)
People are blocking your ads
Lastly, more people are now days blocking your advertisement on the Internet (Barker, 2016). The 2017 Ad block Report from PageFair shows that over 600 million devices uses ad block, and this number grew by 30% globally since 2016. With this report, I suggest it is time for you to stop wasting your money on ads that you consumers block and focus on channels that people trust and as mentioned before, consumers trust influencers (Bughin, 2015). Influencer marketing reaches the ad block generation with the information they want (Callius, 2017).
To Sum Up…
Influencer marketing is not for every brand, you have to have the right product, be active on social media and there has to be influencers for your target market. If you have this, here are the 5 reasons mentioned in the text about why influencer marketing is important and shouldn’t be ignored by you and your brand:
- Your brand is loosing power
- Consumers trust recommendations from influencers
- The shift from celebrities to opinion leaders
- The growth of social media
- People are blocking your ads
Barker, S. (2016), Social Media Week- 5 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Shouldn’t be ignored, Available Online: https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2016/03/5-reasons-influencer-marketing-shouldnt-ignored/ [Accessed 13 November 2017]
Barwise, P., Meehan, S. (2010). The one Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand. Harvard Business Review, December 2010, pp.80-84
Bughin, J. (2015), McKinsey- Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence, Available Online: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/getting-a-sharper-picture-of-social-medias-influence [Accessed 13 November 2017]
Callius, S., (2017). Inredare med inflytande. Civilekonomen, no. 7, pp.9-11
De Veirman, M., Cauberghe, V., and Hudders, L. (2017). Marketing through Instagram influencers: the impact of number of followers and product divergence on brand attitude. International Journal of Advertising, vol. 36, no. 5, pp.798-828
Gensler, S., Völckner, F., Liu-Thompkins, Y., and Wiertz, C. (2013). Managing Brands in the Social Media Environment. Journal of Interactive Marketing, no. 27, pp.242-256
Instagram (2017), Amanda Claesson, Available Online: https://www.instagram.com/aamandaclaesson/ [Accessed 13 November 2017]
Instagram (2017), Our Story, Available Online: https://instagram-press.com/our-story/ 09 2017 [Accessed 14 November 2017]
Cortland, M., (2017), PageFair- 2017 Adblock Report, Available Online: https://pagefair.com/blog/2017/adblockreport/ [Accessed 14 November 2017]
Ricci, V. (2017), Appamin- How to Know If Influencer Marketing is Right for You, Available Online: https://www.apptamin.com/blog/influencer-marketing-considerations/ [Accessed 10 November 2017]
Rogers, C. (2016). What’s Next For Influencer Marketing? Marketing Week, June 2016, pp.16-18
Statista (2015). Fastest growing social and messaging apps worldwide as of 1st quarter 2015, Available Online: https://www.statista.com/statistics/381933/messaging-social-app-user-growth/ [Accessed 14 November 2017]
Sudha, M., and Sheena, K. (2017). Impact of Influencers in Consumer Decision Process: the Fashion Industry. SCMS Journal of Indian Management, July-September 2017, pp.14-30
Students from the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University are the contributing authors for the BrandBase blog.