Brand influencers can play an important role in your digital presence.
A friend from school (who is now an astrophysicist) recently sent me a message on LinkedIn with some questions about the concept of influencers after reading one of my posts.
He asked me some interesting questions:
- Are influencers just data driven nerds crunching numbers, or are they charismatic, outgoing people?
- Who’s benefiting from influencer marketing these days?
- Why do companies need influencers?
I imagine he’s not the only person with these sort of questions, and whether you’re an astrophysicist or a marketing executive, I can appreciate the curiosity.
Who are Influencers?
The term ‘brand influencer’ is not so easily defined, as influencers come in pretty much all colors of the rainbow. Personally, I find it helpful to think of them as celebrities, of sorts – who are held in high regard for their knowledge and opinions.
On the spectrum of influencers, I’ve met all types, from the “data-driven nerds” to the “charismatic” smooth talkers.
Even my dad is an influencer of sorts – he is invited by large medical organizations to speak all over the world on a highly specialized area of emergency medicine.
Did I mention that he still has more Twitter followers than I do?
Examples of Influencer Marketing
Brand influencers are now relevant across many different industries and sectors. It’s pretty unbelievable to think that even the smallest and closest-knit industries have their own influencers.
Toyota took the comedic route and recruited YouTube comedians Rhett and Link to rebrand the 2015 edition of the Camry. The hilarious duo gave shout outs to the Camry throughout their talk show series, garnering 10 million views collectively.
Proactiv tapped into the creative prowess and youthful audience of beauty blogger Eva Gutowski to foster stronger connections between the brand and capricious teens. Eva’s one video alone picked up 385,000 views.
How do I Pick the Right Influencer?
The trick is determining whether working with an influencer will actually benefit your company.
While a social media influencer might be relevant to sales and marketing technology companies, a research analyst might be relevant to pharmaceutical companies.
While different influencers have different styles of domain expertise, they all hold influence within their respective industries. They lend credibility to the brands they partner with because they themselves (hopefully) believe in the product or service.
Dig into their interests to discover what they are passionate about.
An animal rights organization wouldn’t collaborate with someone known to wear fur, just like you wouldn’t find my dad – an emergency physician – speaking at a conference for podiatrists (foot doctors).
Try ‘reverse engineering’ and think about it from the audience’s perspective – what do they expect from your brand? Also, how can the individual positively reinforce, add to or change what they already know?
How can Influencers Benefit my Brand?
Research has shown that influencer marketing earns $6.85 for every $1.00 of paid media. The payoff can be huge. 47% of online customers use ad blocking technology, which means word-of-mouth marketing is soaring (and yields a 37% higher customer retention rate).
Just like spaghetti won’t stick to the wall if it’s undercooked (speaking from experience), your message won’t stick if it’s poorly executed.
Therein lies the value-add: an influencer’s voice is a trusted vehicle that communicates your brand’s message.
It can circumvent the ad blockers, the closed ears, the deleted emails. We hear this over and over in marketing, but it’s worth saying again: people trust people, not brands.
But remember, as one of my favorite influencers, Heidi Cohen, once said
Always assume that your audience is at least as smart as you are.
Employees as Influencers
If you need further proof, just look at the success of employee advocacy. Messages shared by employees went 561% further than the same message shared by the brand. Influencer marketing works in the same way.
These statistics will only grow from here. In 2016, 59% of marketers plan to increase spend on influencer marketing. Although it can be challenging to measure the ROI of influencer marketing, it’s completely doable and extremely important. That’s how you determine the true value-add!
The Future of Influencer Marketing
We know that context is everything. Beauty brands, for instance, are going to be drawn to visual-heavy platforms like YouTube and Instagram to find the right influencers. As a SaaS company with a focus on social media marketing, we look to data and content-driven influencers like Christopher Penn and Michael Brenner.
The influencer designation is a bit like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s less restrictive than other professional designations (i.e. accountants, doctors), but on the other it can open the door to people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
Be mindful of this.
Some other notable takeaways include:
- Influencer marketing isn’t bound to only certain industries. Don’t be afraid to explore it if it’s unchartered territory!
- Your main objective should be to work with someone relevant, not simply ‘popular.’
- Determine your end goal. Are you aiming to change or enhance public perception of your brand? Or are you hoping to drive sales?
- Conduct a thorough background check. Do their education and experience align with their area of expertise?
Influencer marketing is here to stay, and so I truly believe it’s worth putting the time in to determine who (if anyone at all) is the right fit for your brand. Make smart decisions and don’t rush the process!
Do you know any good examples of effective brand influencers? Let us know!