Trends may change but trust in a higher authority is long-lasting. That holds especially true when we go out to buy virtually anything these days. The latest trend in marketing nowadays is influence marketing. Influence marketing means promoting or selling a brand through popular people, whose opinions can have an effect on a business’s target audience, hence boosting overall sales.
Influencers are chosen on the basis of their strong connections to the buyers. This marketing tactic is based on the idea of borrowing an influencer’s outreach and using it to your own benefit, by asking the influencer to endorse your product to their existing audience.
Even though influence marketing is currently a really sought-after marketing strategy, it isn’t a new trend at all. The idea of an influencer is age-old with many brands opting for celebrities such as actors, sportsmen and other famous personalities to represent them. In today’s unique digital age, influencer marketing stands out due in its own right due to a contemporary avenue of marketing: social media.
Everyone has an equal opportunity to share their opinion on social media, and if one expresses that opinion in a creative manner, they can become an influencer. Young influencers, along with their huge following, have totally changed the marketing game.
Influencer marketing is not without its drawbacks. It may leave a big dent on your budget and may not always yield desired results. Before allocating a huge budget for influence marketing, try to assess how your brand will benefit from it. Is it a worthwhile strategy? Will the investment in time and money be worth the results? Here are 6 reasons that can help you decide whether influence marketing is for your brand or not:
1. One Size Does Not Fit All
A lot of in-depth research and online activity are required before the marketing even starts. This means a lot of resources are going to be utilized in searching for and identifying the right influencers.
Once the perfect influencers have been identified, you will be required to create a database of all their contact information. Now keep in mind that you cannot pitch the same ideas to all your influencers. Different content needs to be created for each influencer, based on their individual personalities and personas.
After contacting each influencer, and pitching your brand’s idea, you will have to wait for them to get back to you. Once they decide to be on board with your company, you will have to dedicate a team to measure and report the results that are achieved by your influencer marketing campaign. The relationship with your influencer needs to be followed up regularly and you need to be careful of any loopholes that might occur.
To understand the dynamics and the time-consuming process of influence marketing, take a look at some of the essential steps that you need to carry out before it even starts.
-Research and come up with a clear brief With the plethora of information available on the internet, it can be a tedious process to filter out what you are on the hunt for. This is why you need to dedicate an exclusive research team to study and learn from other brands by looking for the kinds of content that get the most engagement. After going through case studies, start creating your own brand identity and vision. Set a clear brief so that it is easier for the influencer to understand the idea behind your brand.
-Look for the right influencer This is a step that can make or break your brand’s image. Make sure you don’t get hasty in choosing the person who will represent your brand exactly how you envision your brand’s personality to be. Reach out to the shortlisted people and wait for a response from them.
-Establish a collaboration structure After you decide to have an influencer on board, it is important to agree on a collaboration structure that suits both of you. This includes all the technicalities like the time frame, content generation, output and payment details.
-Spread the word Try to get maximum value out of influence marketing posts. You can re-share it on other social media platforms for additional reach.
Marketing your influencer posts is not only a time-consuming process but also requires an investment. You need to pay the influencers as well as dedicate a team to track their performance. Before hopping on the bandwagon of influence marketing, figure out if your brand can handle such extensive research and whether this process will leave you with empty pockets.
2- It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
After going through the tedious process of deciding which influencers to get on board, don’t assume that you will get instant results. Influence marketing is a strategy that will take weeks to begin. Content creation takes equal, if not more, time than the first step.
It can take months to develop a good understanding with the influencer and make him or her understand your brand’s vision. After creating and launching the content through your chosen influencer, it may take a few months before you can achieve measurable results.
If you are not ready to spare a few months to monitor your marketing results, influence marketing is not the path you should take.
3- Influencers Need Influencing, Too
Influence marketing requires constant high involvement with influencers. One member of your company has to dedicate himself to this cause. As an influence relations specialist, it is his job to represent a positive image of your brand and to develop professional relationships with the influencers who are on board. The influencer relations specialist also helps influencers create relevant content that is used to market your company’s vision to your target audience.
This means your marketing team has extra workload on their shoulders, or you have to hire another person specifically for this job. Whatever the case, influence marketing will begin to utilize valuable time and resources of your team members. Or it will cause a strain on your current marketing budget if you have to pay for a new employee’s salary. So, don’t opt for influence marketing if you are on a tight budget or have limited resources. Use these precious amenities to invest in other viable marketing strategies that can help you gain instant results.
4- Progress Tracking Can Be A Hassle
Keeping track of progress through influence marketing requires a lot of in-depth research as compared to other social media marketing strategies. There is no fixed path or software that can be used to analyze the results. Unlike paid advertisements and content published on your own page, you will not have direct access to the influencer’s social media account.
The most you can do to help is to make them understand the vision behind your product. Now it is up to the influence, on how they decide to market it among their followers. The creative and marketing process is entirely in the hands of the influencer and the more you interfere, the less your chances of success. You have to trust the influencer blindly, as they know their followers better than you.
The inability to have access to influencers’ tweets, blog posts or presentations can be frustrating. The lack of a solid and centralized platform hinders the process of gauging whether influence marketing is actually successful for your brand or not. There are certain ways to gauge traffic by guiding an audience towards your website or introducing landing pages on clicks. To measure a more directly relevant success rate through influence is almost impossible unless you invest in high-end and sophisticated tracking systems.
5- High Risk = High Reward
Influence marketing is a highly risky marketing strategy. Even after you spend time, resources and a lot of money on it, influence marketing can show its ugly side when you are least expecting it. After all, the influencers are human, and they can make mistakes anywhere and at any time. And with the constant scrutiny, they are faced with, no word goes unnoticed. A small phrase from the mouth of an influencer has the power to bring your brand back to square one. Never underestimate the power of controversy and how it can impact your brand image.
One classic example of the downfall of an influencer is PewDiePie’s. He was a YouTube sensation and had more than a million fans. He was all set to represent YouTube’s red streaming service. Even Google and Disney had approached him for influencer contracts. But all of this changed overnight when PewDiePie made some rather controversial statements. What happened next was expected as YouTube, Google and Disney all ended their association with him.
In other words, brands need to be very careful in selecting an influencer. Influencer marketing can sound promising and you might even find some case studies of brands that sky rocketed because of choosing the right influencer. But it can waste time, money and tarnish your brand’s reputation too if you are not diligent about choosing the right person to do business with. Remember, the people you choose will always be associated with your brand’s name. And not everyone is honest nowadays.
6- What Works For Them May Not For You
There is nothing more disappointing to see months of hard work go to waste because working on an influencer marketing campaign is nothing short of a risk. Your hard work’s results depend solely on the influence.
Even though the influence is legally bound to market your brand, consumers are really intelligent. The slightest lack of passion by the influence is enough to send your customers away. Let’s be real, most of the celebrities have already established their own brands or services. They are only working with you as a business that can add to their fan following and net worth. Remember, influencers are working for their personal gain first and your benefit second.
It is true that a celebrity has a very large reach, and a brand chooses their influence based on their following. If the brand’s target audience and the influencers following is in line; only then should a brand opt for an influencer marketing strategy.
An influencer’s large following is of no use to a business if it doesn’t fit the brand image. If even after choosing the right celebrity with the correct targeted following, a brand does not see an increase in sales, it may be because many companies are now shifting towards the concept of bringing forward brand advocates to market themselves.
Brand advocates can be defined as loyal customers, who are officially commissioned by the organization to speak about their brand, without any compensation. Brand advocates stand out from the crowd due to their witty writing style and/or relatable content. This is why the reviews and opinions of brand advocates create twice as many communications about brands as the average web user.
It all boils down to one important question. Are you looking for a long-term or a short-term marketing strategy? Do you want instant results or do you want to invest time, money and effort in a comparatively longer-term marketing strategy that is based on a high-risk factor?
These questions are why you need to be really honest about your brand’s marketing strategy. Are you willing to spend your limited budget on a one-time exposure burst, or smaller short-term ones? Once you answer these questions, it will be easier to identify whether influencer marketing is the right strategy for your brand.
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