There have been many trends in marketing over the past few years but one trend that has really changed the face of marketing is Influencer Marketing. It can be called yet another blessing of the era of digitization and social media.
With the onset of social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube and Facebook, masses began to express a part of their lifestyle on these platforms and many more of the like joined in and this led to the formation of many communities. For instance, Instagram and Youtube today, have a number of communities of photographers, chefs, beauty enthusiasts, fashion experts, etc. who are influencing millions of their followers through their content.
Here, we are going to talk about the concept of Influencer Marketing- its trends, platforms and why is it important for brands.
What is Influencer Marketing?
In the most basic sense, Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which a brand collaborates with influencers on social media. The idea is to focus on influencers rather than the target market as a whole. Basically, it simply means taking the idea of the traditional celebrity endorsement and placing it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign through public figures (influencers) who have influence over potential customers and designing marketing activities around them.
Who are Influencers?
Influencer, unlike celebrities, can be any person on social media, mostly Instagram &Youtube who carries a strong reputation with a large number of people in a given niche. Influencers can come from any background, industry and can have varying amounts of followers. The one thing that they all have in common is that they’re social media figures who have gathered around them communities with an interest in their passion, who are eager to listen to them. These influencers endorse brands, support their content, or co-create content with the brand and then promote it through their social media presence.
Within any industry, there are influential people—you just have to find them. They are easily recognized by their hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers, and that’s the target audience you’re after.What makes them influential is their large followings on the web and social media. Check out some of India’s biggest bloggers/vloggers turned Youtuber here: Ayushi Bangur (fashion & lifestyle), Ranveer Allahabadia (fitness), Kritika Khurana (fashion), Sherry Shroff (beauty & lifestyle),
Why is it important for brands?
Influencer Marketing is playing a critical role in breaking online clutter, creating relevant customer dialogue and bringing trust to the table for brands and marketers alike.
In a highly social network, information travels like waves and influencers are the wave makers. They have the following, trust and influence to guide an audience towards loving, listening or leaving brands.
Influencers share a unique, honest, legitimate relationship with their followers and this is exactly what makes influencer marketing so superior than other marketing tactics. When brands commit to influencers, they are also committing to being long-term advocates for their audience and customers.
Influencers’ targeting and relationship-building potential offers greater yields and increasingly relevant customer relationships and hence, influencer marketing drives awareness, cultivates an audience, and bolsters owned media over time. It certainly assures brands of the following:
- improved word-of-mouth
- increased number of expert opinions
- social proof
How does Influence Marketing help brands?
Though the benefits of Influencer Marketing towards a brand are immeasurable, following are the most prominent ways in which Influencer Marketing helps brands:
Hikes in online purchases: Influencer marketing allows for an instantaneous purchase process. Influencers who are bloggers or vloggers often describe products and its applications as well as benefits with explicit details in their vlogs or blogs along with attaching a direct link to buy the product online. This creates less lag time between seeing the product and being redirected to the product, which is more effective for spontaneous purchases by the viewers.
High-impact conversations: Influencer Marketing offers brands the potential to unify their marketing, PR, sales, product, digital marketing, and social media through powerful and relevant relationship-based communication between the brand and its target consumers.
Cost effective: While putting an ad on television has a high cost, working with an influencer has a negligible cost in relation to the possible benefits it can receive.
Trust build-up: Customer conversations with influencers about a brand helps build-up their trust towards a brand since the influencers, often are ordinary people who maintain strong relationships with their followers, who have a certain level of trust in the influencer’s opinions.
The future of Influencer Marketing- Upcoming trends
2018 is being called the year of Influencer Marketing and the upcoming trends look promising as well. . But the future of influencer marketing, like any marketing strategy, is subject to changes in trends, audiences, and technologies. Let us have a look at some of the major upcoming trends in Influencer Marketing.
Videos are more authentic, they’re more fun to watch than read textual content, and that’s why influencers are going to experiment with video marketing trends – whether it is Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat or Youtube videos (vlogs).
Instagram Stories’ owe a lot of its success to the influencers. These social media gurus paved the way for using the app creatively to engage and gain followers. Instagram Stories allow Influencers to think outside the box and engage in effective communication about a brand with their customers through tools like polls, questions and DMs which gives influencers a lot of freedom to create branded content that is top-of-mind and also drives results.
Brands and influencers being more transparent about their partnerships is the new trend. Earlier, not every brand was as outspoken as they should’ve been about working with some social media stars or celebrities. A lot of influencers created Instagram posts, YouTube videos and other content promoting products without disclosing they were being paid for it. This trend seems to be changing rapidly with Instagram’s new feature which is “Paid Partnerships”. With this feature, the influencers you work with can easily (and clearly) disclose when a post they share is part of a brand partnership. This is super helpful if you’re doing influencer marketing on Instagram.
Value & Cost of Influencer Marketing:
In 2017 big brands experimented with small budgets to test if influencer marketing was a worthwhile strategy but now, we’re finally in a place where major brands have now completed their “proof of concept” campaigns and are shifting a massive piece of their budgets from mainstream marketing to influencers. This has definitely hiked up the cost & value of Influencer Marketing. Influencers are now receiving more offers to collaborate so brands need to offer something beyond free products or a night’s stay at their hotel to seal the deal. Influencers will start to become more selective with the businesses they collaborate with and only work with brands that they can develop a meaningful partnership with.
Authenticity of Influencers:
Measuring ROI: Because brands aim to increase influencer campaign budget exponentially in 2018, measuring the effectiveness and ROI of campaigns will be crucial. This means setting concrete metrics to track before launching such as hashtag usage, conversions, website traffic, engagement (likes, comments) and growth of followers.