Celebrity endorsements are an age-old advertising tactic. In fact, it’s been around since the 1700s. In the 1760s, Josiah Wedgwood used his royal connections and endorsements to sell his Wedgwood brand plates. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, trade cards were used with athletes, movie stars, and musicians to help promote products. Fast forward to the age of radio and black and white TV, celebrity endorsements continued to be a common marketing strategy as brands and products sponsor certain radio and TV segments, productions, and shows. While brands continue to work with celebrities, today’s digital world has companies also partnering with social media and blogging influencers with the goal of promoting their products and services.
From the busy dad who documented his experiences with his first child to the rising athlete who gives fans an inside look into her life and progress, the average person is skyrocketing their way to stardom through social media, blogging, and other online platforms. Through their content creation and community building efforts, they become influencers trusted by thousands of online fans.
Brands are hopping on the influencer marketing trend like their success depends on it. But influencer marketing isn’t the right path for every business. In fact, for some, it can be a bad investment.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Similar to a celebrity endorsement or sponsorship, influencer marketing refers to when brands ask specific influencers to create valuable and relevant content around a particular campaign, product, or service. TapInfluence, an influencer marketing program and marketplace, defines this strategy as “a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.”
Likewise, Traackr says influencer marketing is “the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with customers about your brand, products or services.”
To see influencer marketing in action, check out these entertainment examples from Hubspot.
Thanks to the shift away from traditional advertising methods, brands are turning to influencer marketing to help sell their products and services. In fact, it was found that 49% of people rely on influencer recommendations as part of their purchase decision. And 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube.
When to Use Influencer Marketing
Although influencer marketing may not be the right track for every brand, there are cases where the tactic can be quite beneficial. If your brand is experiencing any of these situations, you may want to consider investing in influencer marketing.
You Have a Disconnect with Customers
Is your customer service center riddled with disgruntled phone calls from consumers? Are customers just not understanding what your product or service is all about? When there’s a disconnect between your company and your customers, perhaps you need an influencer to bridge the gap.
Influencers have a loyal audience that turns to them for direction and advice. After all, 74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions. Leverage the power of influencers to educate your audience about your brand, what you stand for, and what they can do to learn more.
You Need to Generate Brand Awareness
If you’ve just launched a business or need a bit of help getting your brand off the ground, partnering with an influencer is a great way to reach your target audience. Be sure to do your research and find an influencer with a following that matches the demographic and behavioral characteristics you’re looking to target.
You’re Trying to Reach a New Market
When trying to reach an untapped or new market, you need to find a way “in.” One excellent path is through an established influencer in that audience. Reach out to an influencer who has a thorough understanding of your desired market and find out how you can best partner together to reach this audience.
How to Determine if Influencer Marketing is the Right Route for Your Company
Although influencer marketing is a popular and often successful tactic, it may not be the best marketing choice for your business. Use these tips to discover if influencer marketing is in the cards for your company.
Layout Your Campaign Goals
Before scouring the Internet in search of the perfect influencer, you must organize and document your goals for the campaign. Common marketing campaign goals can include:
- Increasing sales of a certain product over a specific time period.
- Generating a greater amount of website traffic.
- Improving overall social media engagement for a certain network.
- Adding more users to an email subscriber list.
- Increasing the number of mentions or brand conversations online.
Remember to make sure your marketing goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely). Once you’ve defined your goals, ask yourself if influencer marketing is the ideal way to accomplish these objectives.
Analyze Your Industry
From the food and beverage sector to the travel industry, several influencers also work to align themselves with a specific industry. However, some industries just aren’t suited for influencer marketing and therefore attract few influencers, if any.
To determine if your industry is right for influencer marketing, begin with a search on Google or social media. Analyze how your competitors or similar brands are marketing themselves online. Are they using influencers to promote their products and services? If so, is that working for them? Is the influencer delivering top quality content and engaging with the community?
On the other hand, you can also look at the top profiles or influencers for each industry. Are these individuals partnering with brands? Does it make sense for them to do so?
For instance, a construction company may not have the same success with influencer marketing that a beauty or health company may have. Always consider the nature of your industry before investing in an influencer marketing campaign.
Will Influencer Marketing Work with Your Current Plan?
Ideally, you’ve already got a marketing plan in place. Before jumping into influencer marketing, make sure it’ll work seamlessly with your current marketing strategy. If adding an influencer to the mix will halt other plans or sidetrack important projects, it may not be your best marketing choice at the moment.
Influencer marketing pairs well with social media marketing, search engine optimization, and content marketing plans. Brands work with influencers to generate extra engagement on social platforms, exceptional articles, and strong backlinks for their website.
Do You Have the Budget for an Influencer Campaign?
Just as freelancers aren’t free, neither are influencers. Depending on the quality of their work and accumulated following, influencers can charge upwards of thousands of dollars for a single social media post. Although there are micro-influencers you can leverage for a potentially lower cost, if you’re struggling to find the marketing budget for influencer marketing, your resources may be better spent elsewhere.
Is Influencer Marketing Right for Your Company?
Although influencer marketing can deliver an 11x higher ROI than traditional marketing tactics, it doesn’t fit well with every brand. While there’s no definitive yes or no answer to the question, following these steps and answering our questions will guide you to an answer.
Have you invested in influencer marketing and seen great results? Share your experiences with the community!