Brands have always sought out influencers and celebrities to give them credibility, and marketing on social media is no different. Aligning with someone to act as a digital partner or spokesperson can help a brand build or maintain its image. And quite importantly, influencers on social media have proven to help drive business. Only six percent of social media budget goes towards influencers, and yet they create about 31% of all purchasing stem from social media engagement . (One could also argue that, in light of this, the other 94% of social media spending needs to be rethought.)
An influencer strategy works, but finding the right influencers is more nuanced than it may appear on the surface. Here’s a 5-step process to making your influencer program more successful:
Start – as always – by thinking about the brand and campaign goals: Consider: who does the brand want to reach? What is the key message? Who does the audience hold in high regard? What types of conversations are the target audience engaged in?
Understand the nuances between online and offline influencers: Engagement can be more powerful than reach. For instance, when Coca-Cola in Brazil wanted to activate its audience by raffling off tickets to matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, they trialled two very different influencers: Brazilian singer Manoela Gavassi, who had over 1.4 million followers on Twitter, and Rico Perrone, a niche sports blogger with around 115,000 followers. Perrone’s audience may have been much smaller, but it was more focused on the goals of the brand, and therefore resulted in higher levels of engagement.
Value exchange: When working with influencers the brand needs to offer a worthwhile exchange of value – a unique experience, for example, a product trial or exclusive event or partnership.
It’s not a one-off: Like any other relationship, the one between a brand and an influencer needs to be nurtured if its to be long-lasting and mutually beneficial. Even when there isn’t a specific campaign on the horizon, keep in touch and consider how the brand could offer value to the influencer.
Respect: From the outset, brands must respect the influencer’s social media style, personality, and audience, working unobtrusively within the influencer’s existing framework. Keep in mind that influencers are, in essence, media partners.
Cutting through the noisy plains of the social media landscape is never easy, but leaning on influencers can help. By carefully identifying influencers and cultivating relationships with them, brands can find themselves reaching, and making an impact on, their ever-elusive target audiences.