Influencer marketing. Now those are two words you hear tossed around a lot in meetings. You might know that tapping into the power of influencer marketing can be good for your business, but hands up how many of you actually know how to use it?
There is literally a graveyard of case studies of influencer marketing gone wrong (just ask Pepsi), and far fewer stories of success. Even so, last year, 84 percent of marketers declared that working with an influencer was in their pipeline for 2018. But, had they known about the Facebook algorithm change, I suspect that number would have been even higher. Add to that the fact that GDPR is bringing about a whole bunch of regulations on data, and navigating social media platforms is more of a minefield than ever before.
What's a marketer to do? Align with the right influencers, of course - ones who can get their content into their target customers' news feed and make them feel all warm and fuzzy about your brand. With 88 percent of consumers trusting online peer reviews more than traditional advertising (and more than 40 percent of millennials using adblockers) get influencer marketing right and you have a direct line to your customers. Get influencer marketing wrong, and you risk alienating them completely.
As consumers become savvier and more skeptical of company content, they can smell a fake influencer like the stench of grandma's lavender perfume. So, in 2018, here's how to do it right:
No More Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am
Influencer marketing hardly existed a few short years ago. Sure, getting cited on an important blog was worth a few brownie points. But as 81 percent of us now have a social media profile, influencer marketing has really taken off.
What marketers have to get used to this year is that their one-off tactics of the past are no longer paying off. Consider sticking with your influencers for a while.
This encourages trust and authenticity, and allows your influencer and followers to see how genuine the relationship really is. It will also save you the trouble of looking for constant new influencers to get into bed with (so to speak).
Transparency Pays Off
Yawn. I know what you're thinking. By now, marketers are pretty fed up of being hit over the head with the transparency card, but I'm going to reinforce it here again anyway, because it's important:
94 percent of consumers will be loyal to a brand that is transparent.
Think about that statement for a moment and what that means to your influencer marketing campaigns. Stop trying to make your relationship look like something it isn't. Don't be afraid to mark sponsored posts as such or make your influencer relationship public. Unless you're seeking out a vegetarian to comment on your delicious beef burgers, followers won't mind.
Size Isn't Everything
In fact, size doesn't matter in influencer marketing in 2018. It's far more lucrative for your brand to tap into the targeted following of a micro-influencer than a ginormous, untargeted, disengaged mass who are only partially committed.
Working with micro influencers in fact, is almost 7 times more effective than working with influencers with larger followings. And it's cheaper, too.
You can use a combination of both, or simply go niche, depending on your budget.
Giving the Influencer More Influence
Once you've taken the time to cultivate the relationship with your influencer, the content should come naturally. If it feels forced, it may be that you haven't got the right influencer, after all.
They have a better understanding than anyone of the type of content their followers want to see. And often, the most successful campaigns are the ones created by the influencer, rather than the other way around. Especially if they are already advocates of your brand.
You can even scout out your best consumers and turn them into representatives of your products. Cosmetic company, Glossier, for example, regularly interacts with followers on Instagram and other social media platforms to create micro-influential beauty enthusiasts who champion their collections. What could be more genuine, long lasting and influential than getting dedicated customers to spread the word about your brand?
If you want your influencer marketing to be more, well, influential, start thinking less is more. Drill down to real brand enthusiasts. Cultivate the relationship over time and let your influencers get creative. Not only will you be working around adblocking software and algorithms, but you'll be speaking to your audience in a true, authentic voice that keeps those pesky millennials happy.