In today’s digital era, the rise of internet influencers creates a world of opportunities for an intelligent marketer. It opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers directly, organically, and at scale. With the focus of Government on “Digital India” and events like “Jio launch”, internet penetration has grown exponentially. Today 28.7% of India’s population access Internet according to a report of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Internet therefore becomes a meeting place for consumers and brands. Also, the world is shifting to social media, where consumers look to other consumers for information on their purchase decisions. Instead of looking at the companies, they now look at each other and at famous personalities with massive followings on social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. For these reasons, influencer marketing is the next big thing in digital marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing, and who is an Influencer?
You would probably do one or both of the following options:
- Log in to Zomato application and go into the profile of person who is a food expert, then you would read her reviews or her suggestions
- You ask your friends or relatives if they have been to that restaurant and is it worth going there?
The people who we consider during our decision making process are influencers, as they influence our final decision. This is a very basic form of influencer marketing. We go to those we trust and ask for their advice or recommendation.
We want recommendations from real people on authentic sites or on social media platforms.
Influencer marketing therefore involves leveraging influence of real people on digital channels to market products and services. The number of businesses using influencer marketing are increasing at a rapid rate and they are using it to create buzz, increase awareness, enhance brand perception and eventually improve brand image.
Influencer marketing includes several steps to create branded user-generated content that complements other promotion tools on digital platform. These steps include
- identifying right influencers that resonate with the brand as well as the target audiences
- marketing your brand to these influencers
- activating influencers to spread brand’s message through their own networks
- eventually turning these influencers into brand advocates
What classifies someone as a social influencer?
Any person with a high level of credibility and respect among the audience is a social influencer. This is the reason their opinions influence others to take actions. A social influencer can be: a loyal customer, a passionate brand advocate, a dedicated fan or any known blogger.
How influencer marketing overcomes certain digital marketing inefficiencies?
Consider this hypothetical case. You see an advertisement on social media which promotes quick delivery benefit of an ecommerce company XYZ. Compare it with a person who has a million followers on twitter and he tweets about the speedy delivery of a product from the same firm. The second case is likely to have more impact as the person would have major influence on his followers. His followers would retweet which would further create more awareness. Therefore the brand advertisements that appear on your social media page are not nearly as important as an actual customer or influencer who posts about it.
Advantages of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing overcomes some of the marketing inefficiencies of other traditional digital marketing. Some of these are listed below:
- Trust: It builds consumer trust. More than 90% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they do not know them) while choosing a brand or product. Influencer marketing helps in creating a relevant and reliable information pool that is trusted by the people.
- Digital advertising does work, but millennials and more informed internet users have adblocks installed on their browsers which blocks most of the advertisement. On the other hand, people follow their influential personalities, and therefore there’s no getting blocked in the case of influencer marketing.
- Effective and affordable: Influencer marketing is easy to analyse using web tracking and information such as engagement rates, retweets, comments, clicks and conversions. Email and influencer marketing provide the most cost-effective channels for brands.
- We know that content marketing is important for brands, but even if your content is very good, it will still gain limited views if it is only posted on your own website. Influencers helps in this aspect as they are both content creators as well as publishers.
Influence Marketing in political campaigns
Political parties are roping in good amount of influencers to propagate their ideologies and gain political traction. Nowadays, almost every day we can see some twitter hashtags on the major political parties such as BJP, INC, etc. These political parties will have their separate influencers or influencer groups who actively spread their message. Paresh Rawal’s fan handle has massive following and is often seen as tweeting political statements.
Popular influencer marketing campaigns in India
Some of the popular influencer marketing campaigns in India that companies have used to engage and leverage the power and reach of influencers are:
- Lenovo Yoga 2 tablet – YoGa2bFree: Lenovo hired four famous twitter celebrities
- Launch of Cadbury Glow: A few mid-range twitter influencers along with Bollywood fashion and lifestyle blogger were roped in to promote the chocolate
- Philips Air Fryer: Philips roped in Sanjay Thumma, a popular chef on YouTube known for his channel Vahchef on YouTube
Social influencer marketing is gaining importance and will evolve over time as it adapts to the latest trends and technology. Smart marketers are already capitalizing on the opportunity to develop their brand with the voice of customers, consumers and brand advocates. The key lies in recruiting passionate and dedicated influencers to participate in the marketing campaigns to increase customer reach through their well-established network and increase brand trust and profitability.