Conventional marketing approaches are being kicked to the curb. The number of consumers who push the button that makes digital content creators cringe increases every year. As of March 2016, 22 percent of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users are blocking ads on the mobile web. It’s evident consumers distrust advertising.
- Question: How does a company effectively showcase its brand without being blocked and know that it’s reaching the right audience.
Answer: Influencer marketing. “Providing product context and expertise through an inspirational person,” said John Hall, CEO and Cofounder of Influence & Co.
What does it mean to have influence?
Three things make someone an influencer.
- Reach: The size of their following matters, but in consideration with what industry your brand falls under. Engagement rate is the most important number. It looks great when someone has 50k followers… But what if their engagement rate is 1 percent? Not so hot anymore.
- Resonance: The ability to connect with their followers and drive a certain behavior or action.
- Relevance: The influencer must align with your brand’s voice and the target audience.
Connecting with the right influencers to match your brand is an important element of a successful influencer marketing campaign. There are different levels to influencers: macro, micro, and end consumer.
Celebrity-esque public figure with a large following, generally in the high thousands. Think of JD Andrews, a world photographer and videographer, who has a following of 185k.
Organic advocates who post your brand because they want to, not because they have to. Their audiences are friends, family, and pretty much anyone who clicks follow.
Keep in mind definitions of who represent macro and micro influencers’ change depending on your audience and industry. As Ben Popper explains, “It’s not just the sheer number of followers a person has … What really matters is how far across the echo chamber of the internet your voice can carry, and whether your audience trusts what you say.” Brand advocates are a solution because they can’t be blocked, the number of external influencers increases every day, and the best way to gain customer trust is to partner with someone they know.
What is the right approach?
There is no universal answer. It depends on two concepts … cost vs. budget, and the objective. If you have a large budget, then your options are open to macro-influencers (well known figures are typically in the six figure range), either a high quantity of micro influencers, or a mix of both. For a medium budget, micro-influencers may be your best bet, but don’t rule out all macro-influencers (prices will range). With small budgets, micro-influencers are the way to go. Based on how much cash you have to throw around, the next step is defining your objective. Do you want buzz and notoriety, or do you want immediate engagement and definitive numbers for ROI?
If creating conversation and generating earned media attention is the objective, choose someone with a macro-influencer status. To draw attention to a new beauty product, you would reach out to a public figure like Michelle Phan, a pioneer for fashion and beauty who has 8.7 million YouTube subscribers.
The problem with micro-influencers in this scenario is making it scale since reach is limited. To parallel a public figures following, you’d have to hire tons of micro-influencers, but they have a different benefit to offer. In terms of quantifying engagement rates, micro-influencers have a better track record because it’s not as easy to gauge macro-influencers’ direct impact on sales.
With the idea of a marketing funnel in mind, we put our own twist to it to help explain points of contact of each influencer.
Macro-influencers help execute the awareness phase exposing your brand to thousands of people instantly. It doesn’t stop there, with that post a follower could consider [enter objective here]. Micro-influencers boost the consideration and intent phase since they are seen as closer to the average consumer. People follow them because of their recommendations, not their status. After end consumers have taken action, we hope their experience is so great that they tighten the circle and start a loyalty loop. Where actual fans become influencers by sharing with their networks.
In a nutshell
Optimizing grassroots marketing to grow organic advocates is something we all strive to do. But that’s another question in itself: How do you drive people who have already acted, develop that active pool, and have them take more actions?
An ideal campaign would be to invest in one or more public figures to spearhead a campaign, plus invest in grassroots micro-influencers to accelerate ROI on the total campaign. Now you don’t have to choose just one approach. Every industry is different, so deciding who should spread your brand’s passion is ultimately up to you and the objective.
Have a success story with influencer marketing? Share it with us in the comments or shoot us a tweet @UptownTreehouse.