Influencer marketing has been THE catchphrase of 2016, with many brands and businesses quick to jump on the bandwagon. Now that 2017 looks set to be its prime year, those not yet utilizing marketing’s biggest trend should evaluate whether influencer marketing can benefit their brand. (hint: the likely answer is YES!)
What is influencer marketing?
Brands collaborate with online influencers (usually social media personalities) to get them to promote their brands (products or services) on their online/social media channels, taking advantage of the influencers’ often quite extensive group of followers. The idea is that this will deliver a more audience-specific message than traditional advertising and be a more personal approach. In the age of personalized content, this seems like the way to go.
The problems with influencer marketing
Brands need to make sure to choose an influencer that represents their values, comes across as authentic in relation to the specific products or services and appeals to their target audience. Simply choosing anyone who is currently popular will not deliver the desired effect and results. In addition, brands often forget to build true relationships with these influencers, merely hiring them for one-off promotions without including them in the overall content development strategy. The outcome can be sloppy, half-hearted messages (or “ads”, to be more precise) that have the potential to damage a brand’s image rather than furthering it, making influencer marketing no more (or even less) valuable than traditional advertising.
How to make influencer marketing work for your brand
Brands that have a target audience with a high affinity for online and social media – one that heavily relies on peer recommendations for purchase decisions – can benefit from influencer marketing, if done correctly. This means choosing the right people with whom to partner and building strong and lasting relationships. Many brands include influencers in the content development strategy and process, ensuring that both the influencers’ ideas and potential are utilized and the brand’s values are adhered to. In such a setting, messaging and content delivery are usually well thought-through, tailored and spot on target in terms of expected KPIs and ROI.