Imagine you’re back in college. You are walking down the hallway when suddenly you pass the “popular” gang of girls. In passing you hear one of them, Kylie, saying – “I just love my Fashion Nova jeans. They’re an obsession!” Instantly you feel that you know Kylie’s style quotient, what she wears, and what she considers cool. Fast forward this scene to today, and this would metaphorically be Kylie Jenner speaking on Instagram. Yes, this is exactly what happened. Kylie Jenner recently partnered with an upcoming apparel brand, Fashion Nova, and made such a point in her Instagram post. The post garnered an outstanding 2.4 million likes. This instance is a case in point of influencer marketing, the new king of content. After all, as Scott Cook rightly said, a brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is.
So what is influencer marketing?
It’s a type of marketing in which a brand uses key opinion leaders to drive its message to the market. However, instead of the company advertising directly to vast group of consumers, it hires these influencers to spread the word for it.
And companies today are paying big bucks for this. Why? Because they get to speak to a targeted group of consumers who are actually interested, the exact opposite of what is happening with television these days. Commercials on television have become background noise. Think about it, when was the last time that an advertisement came on television and you didn’t reach out to your phone? The difference is that this time while you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, you’re still seeing advertisements but you just don’t realize it. It’s because your favourite influencers whom you follow are promoting brands but in their own unique voice and story.
Some stats to go with that?
A study by Twitter tells that 49 percent of consumers relied on social media influencers for product recommendations. Even more astonishing was that 40 percent of Twitter users had purchased products as a direct result of an influencer’s tweet.
Another interesting study by International Advertising Bureau shows that 47 percent of online consumers opt for ad blockers, giving companies all the more reason to put their money on influencers instead. Influencers today grab all the eyes as they are the ones people are actually following.
In fact, when Lord and Taylor influenced 50 Instagrammers to post a picture of themselves on the same day wearing the same dress, they made a statement in the Instagram fashion niche that the Lord and Taylor dress was a must have to be in style. The dress was sold out the by the following weekend.
Case in point
Another success story is the #CrazyForReading campaign by Amazon in India. To promote e-reading and the sales of Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon launched the #CrazyForReading campaign which featured videos of two of India’s top selling authors – Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi. The videos had the bestselling authors talk about how Kindle fulfils their crazy love for reading.
And it worked. Both the authors have a huge fan following on social media which helped Amazon target Kindle savvy reading to old and new age readers. The videos had a compelling storyline which hooked on to the audience. Amazon India also invited fans to post and share their #CrazyForReading stories on social media and awarded an Amazon Kindle to the craziest ones.
It has even hit the theatres
Cinema is like a slice of life. It often reveals truths which reality obscures. One such truth on influencer marketing was brought into reel by the film – The Joneses. In the film a new family, called the Joneses, has moved into a high income suburb loaded up with best in class luxury goods and consumer products. The top secret is that the family is fake: in reality they are just a bunch of stealth marketers who disguise product placement as a daily routine. Their furniture, clothing, gadgets, and even food are carefully planned by various brands to get visibility amongst a target group of consumers. The team quickly settles in the community, shifting from displaying brands and goods to actually recommending them. And soon, local stores are stocking goods being trended by the Joneses’. The Joneses’ nail influencer marketing without their friends and neighbours even realizing that they’re being pitched!
Here’s how you too can do it
A McKinsey study shows that referrals influence 20 to 50 percent of all purchase decisions. In fact as per Mark Zuckerberg, a trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcasted message. Here are the steps you can follow to influence with your own campaign:
- Identify key influencers for your brand, either manually or via online influencer search platforms
- Develop a marketing campaign directed to attract these influencers
- Develop a secondary marketing campaign driven by these influencers towards your target set of consumers
- Measure key metrics related to sales and brand recall
But you need to do it now – It’s the new arbitrage in town
An arbitrage is when something sells at a value lesser than what it’s worth. Thus, the difference between the thing’s market price and its actual value becomes your profit – an opportunity to reap benefits at lower costs. For instance, when Facebook launched its advertising platform, early adopters achieved great ROIs as there was no competition in the ad space. With time when people realized its significance, the competition for the ad space increased thereby increasing prices by more than 335 percent in 2014 – depleting everyone’s ROI. The arbitrage “closed”.
Influencer marketing is the current arbitrage. There is a high supply of influencers who are tapped by very few marketers, meaning that the cost to hire these influencers would be low resulting in greater ROI. Snapchat and Periscope are potential influencer marketplaces with hardly anyone investing in it thereby creating a gigantic arbitrage.
Got a hack to knack this?
One can always use a hack, I’ll give you five. This list of tools will help you create a strategy, partner with key influencers and track your campaign.
- Influencer Strategy Template: This tool will give you a template to form your campaign. It also suggests popular influencers to partner with on your choice of social media.
- Followerwonk (Free tool): This Moz tool maps topics and location to help you find relevant influencers on Twitter.
- TrendSpottr for Instagram: Identify trending posts, hashtags, photos and videos to spot influencers using TrendSpottr for Instagram.
- Facebook’s Pixel (Free tool): You can use this tool to track conversations generated by Facebook ads. Based on data collected you can optimize ads to target audiences and market to qualified leads.
- UTM Parameters (Free tool): Include these short codes in the URL to track traffic on websites. You can create these for your influencers and track their engagement when they share posts on social media.
“Nobody reads ads, people read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad”. This is what defines marketing today and makes influencer marketing evergreen. The question is, have you considered this Holy Grail yet?