This post originally appeared on the LinkedIn page of Collective Bias SVP, Marketing and Content, Holly Pavlika.
We live, eat, and breath influencer marketing every day and as such, pour over the dozens of articles that appear in Google alerts we’ve set up. Reporters and various authors alike claim influencer marketing is everything from “clickbait” to “fake news”to mere “hype.” Those claims are being thrown out there as gospel, making influencer marketing appear as the wild, wild west and something from which brands/marketers should run.
Influencer marketing done right can be the solution a marketer is looking for to successfully launch new products, save de-listed items, grow new audiences, and build brand loyalty. The key is to do your homework, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and work with reputable companies.
There are many pricing strategies out there, including flat rates based on the request, CPE models, CPC models, etc. It’s a very competitive marketplace right now, but it is a pay for play era even if it’s just a value exchange. But more than money comes into the equation. Too often you will see companies with hundreds of thousands of influencers. But how many of them are actually making money? We balance supply with demand to ensure our influencers are working, not waiting for income. We also provide ongoing perks for our community as well as education, as social platforms evolve to provide a fair value exchange. That said, some influencer pay is so out-of-whack and unrealistic, but the days of an influencer doing something for a brand out of sheer love are pretty much over.
Let’s take a look at the middle ground or “Power Middle.” According to The Real Times Report, “Power-Middle influencers drive 16x higher engagement rates on average than paid media and owned alternatives–and at a much lower individual cost than professional influencers.” But, we examined our influencer community and their content for a seven-month window and found that campaign engagements increase positively as social reach increases until the point of diminishing return.
Our research shows that influencers who engage with niche audiences through quality content outperform the highest-reach influencers in our community. Niche influencers craft personalized content for their engaged audiences, while high-reach influencers often publish too frequently and saturate their audiences with content that ultimately impacts their campaign engagements. Many factors play a role in influencer selection and there are many options for an influencer selection once the objectives, strategies, and KPIs are determined.
Using celebrities in a campaign is more a celebrity endorsement than true influencer marketing. Mainstream influencers are a better choice if you are looking for engagement and content. Celebrity audiences are often broad, while a mainstream influencer’s audience tends to be centered around their lifestyle category and passion point.
Mainstream influencers are also closer to their audiences as they engage with them on a daily basis knowing it impacts their engagement metrics. Celebrity influencers tend to be channel-specific (think Instagram or Twitter), whereas non-celebrity influencers know the importance of content syndication and create content for multiple platforms as part of the campaign. Celebrities, while influential due to their celebrity status, don’t fit the same mold as influencers. The average person relates better to influencers, which is particularly of interest to brands looking to drive and measure sales impact effectiveness.
A very well-known social media guru recently tried to begin a relationship with an influencer he wanted to work with by tweeting at the influencer numerous times. It was a very public fail. There is an art to making a connection and building a relationship with an influencer. I typically would start a conversation with an influencer on Twitter or other social channel, by liking or commenting on their posts before saying, “I have an opportunity for you. Can we talk?” Once you have the beginnings of a relationship, how you treat the influencer before, during, and after the campaign goes a long way to further cementing the relationship.
Yes, influencers are great for driving awareness and social engagement, but that’s not all they are great for, nor all that can be measured. And yes, if you’re looking to launch a new product your most important KPI might be awareness. But influencer marketing has made so many advancements in measuring everything from in-store foot traffic and promotional impact to sales lift.