Influence – Why does it make a difference?

The rise of social media has changed our marketing plans by adding newer mediums and ideas to the mix. One such addition that was the direct result of the growth of social media is influencer marketing. Influencers have huge numbers of loyal followers as they cater to their followers’ need to stay connected to the subject of their interests and passions. They connect through updates about their life, passion, professions, thoughts and insights.

The term ‘fans’ has turned into ‘followers’ in this digital age. Leveraging this new phenomenon, brands appoint these social media handles to promote their brands and services. These influencers have a well-segmented audience who is already interested in their thoughts and opinions. With the power to influence or affect the purchase decisions of the consumers, celebrities, bloggers, content creators, industry experts, thought leaders are the influencers who are spread across the online and offline universe.

The Influencer Marketing Outlook 2018 analysis by Buzzoka, showed that 50% brand custodians believed in using influencer marketing to achieve their branding and reach objectives. 46% marketers in India, think that influencer marketing is needed for better reach and engagement and 90% brand custodians foresee influencer marketing to manoeuvre the digital ecosystem towards engagement and reach.

The Real Influencers     

 Influencer marketing is extremely competitive with a multitude of potential individuals wanting to become influencers for brands, owing to the exposure and benefits that they would receive in exchange. As with any marketing initiative, there are certain precautions and factors to consider carefully before partnering with an influencer.

  • Evaluate the authenticity of the influencer’s followers and reach. There are many tools online that can help you do so
  • Consider the influencer’s quality of followers and content
  • Ensure compatibility between the influencer’s personality and the brand’s persona and values
  • Make relevance a priority; the content created in collaboration with the influencer should be relevant and engaging to their audience for the initiative to be successful

Every association with an influencer has long term ramifications for the brand. By association, each marketer links the brand’s reputation and credibility with the influencer’s. One of the biggest mistakes that a brand can make is hiring an influencer without due diligence at the vetting stage. A study by Points North Group of Proctor & Gamble Co.’s social influence revealed that close to 32% of Pampers’ and 19% of Olay’s paid influencer followers were fakes. 10 to 15% of the ad spends by brands is lost to such kind of fraud by fake influencers. This has been expressed as a concern by half of the senior-level agency and marketing professionals.

Make the Correct Choice

With such concerns cropping up quite often, how does a brand ensure that a partnership with an influencer is beneficial for the brand without any drawbacks? An answer to this is to treat an influencer initiative as a collaboration rather than just a one-time effort to gain publicity or followers.

Instead of just plugging in brand content on the influencer’s properties, invest in a long-term collaboration where the brand works with the influencer to create quality content with the aim of engaging with the audience. Design a content plan which is in sync with other marketing initiatives while working towards measurable goals. Involve the influencers as genuine partners as opposed to just a medium to achieve a goal. This will also help in weeding out the ‘fake’ influencers through sustained communication with their quality of ideas being the parameter for judgement.

Ensure Efficacy and Returns

Every marketing initiative is created with an end goal with a measurable outcome predetermined. Influencer marketing shouldn’t be any different. Before associating with influencers, ensure that there is clarity about the goals and the role of influencers and social media in the process of achieving them. As always set measurable goals for the initiative with an agreement on the outcome and access to analytics and data to evaluate the initiative’s success.

A genuine influencer is just as dedicated to their earned popularity and followers as any brand custodian is of their brand. A mutually-beneficial partnership is the key to a successful influencer marketing initiative. Be selective about those who get to benefit from and contribute to your brand’s value to create web of loyal influencers and followers who will stay with your brand for a long time to come.

The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Reputation Today.

Asif Upadhye on Twitter
Asif Upadhye
Director at SPRD
Asif Upadhye, Director, SPRD | Stories.PR.Digital, a new-age Public Relations think tank backed by ideators, wordsmiths and design junkies focussed on delivering bespoke services. He sees SPRD as a Digital First Communications agency that partners with Public Relations & Corporate Communications teams to spread the good word!

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