By Kyle Boggio
Welcome to the ever-evolving world of modern marketing, driven by digital innovation. In this era of limitless possibilities, businesses are discovering the potent strategy of influencer marketing to boost engagement, fortify brand presence and supercharge sales. In 2022, a remarkable 75% of brands dedicated budgets to influencer marketing, recognizing it as a catalyst for success.
Influencer marketing involves strategic alliances with individuals known as “influencers” who wield substantial influence and devoted followings within their niches. These influencers transcend digital celebrity status; they are esteemed voices that resonate deeply with their audiences. Partnering with influencers ensures that brands connect with engaged followers who share common interests, passions and values, resulting in a significant boost in engagement rates. For many businesses, influencer-generated content surpasses traditional advertising, by forging genuine and lasting connections with audiences.
Never worked with an influencer? Read on to learn the ins and outs of influencer marketing.
Choosing the Right Influencer for Your Brand
The most important thing to consider when determining the best influencer to represent your brand is your target audience. The influencer’s interests, values and followers should be relevant not only to your brand, but also to those you hope to connect with. Think of it like a Venn Diagram where the brand is on one circle and your audience the other circle. At that overlap, you find the insight needed to connect with the perfect brand ambassador.
Next, decide the type of influencer you need to work with. Two different types of influencers provide a different approach to reaching the target audience, “Reach” and “Niche” influencers.
Reach influencers have a large following and reach to give your brand more exposure. These influencers can give brands a wider range of potential customers. Their content will give your brand high visibility, but the engagement rates may not translate to increased sales since the audience is less targeted. However, the association with the influencer can bolster brand awareness.
Niche influencers have less reach, but brands can precisely target the audience based on the influencer’s following. These niche influencers tend to have a stronger connection with their followers who trust their expertise and enjoy their content, along with higher engagement rates and active followers. Niche influencers typically cost less than reach influencers.
Determining whether a reach or niche influencer is the best way to market your brand, depends on the campaign’s goal and the budget available to reach it.
Influencer Marketing Done Right
A great example of a successful reach influencer campaign is a Dunkin’ Donuts campaign from 2020, where the brand engaged mega-influencer Charli D’amelio to create her own special cup of coffee for fans to order at all Dunkin’ locations.
The result of this campaign? A 57% increase in Dunkin’ app downloads on launch day and by day two of the campaign there was a 45% increase in cold brew sales. The collaboration led Dunkin’ to become the top food brand on TikTok.
Influencer Marketing Done Wrong
Not all influencer campaigns are successful; sometimes, a bad partnership can hurt your brand and influencer. It is not just dependent on the reach of an influencer, but the message the brand is trying to convey. One of the most notorious influencer marketing failures was the partnership between Pepsi and Kendall Jenner.
The advertisement showed Kendall Jenner joining a protest, walking to the front of the protest line, and ending the protest by handing an officer a Pepsi. Both parties received backlash as the ad was seen as inconsiderate and tone-deaf, trying to appropriate to the Black Lives Matter movement. Along with hurting the value of their brand, the advertisements tarnished Pepsi’s reputation as a socially responsible brand and damaged their brand image.
A bit of research to better understand the brand and its audiences could have prevented such a misstep and the corresponding fallout.
Celebrity vs. Influencer Marketing
Celebrity endorsement and influencer marketing have similar purposes, but there are clear advantages to investing in influencer marketing. A celebrity endorsement may only be a one-time deal, while influencer marketing is a long–term investment in building relationships with influencers who can connect with your target audience regularly. Not only is influencer marketing more cost-effective, but they typically have a more targeted audience and are seen as more authentic than a celebrity endorsement.
A prime example is when Scott Disick accidentally posted the brand’s instructions in his Instagram caption. His obvious disinterest in the product is not just a bad look on the brand, but himself.
The difference with influencer marketing is most of the time, the influencer is left to do creative work to create content to relate to their audience while reflecting a good image of the brand. Celebrity endorsement relies on a celebrity’s star power and influence to sell their brand to consumers. While influencer marketing relies on the authenticity and engagement of the influencer to help build a brand image.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a relatively new concept, so we expect growth within the industry. For example, spending is expected to increase by at least 20 percent next year. Innovative marketers constantly explore novel methods for influencers to integrate brands into their content seamlessly. One approach involves subliminal advertising, akin to the subtle placements often observed in movies. Additionally, watch for influencers embedding direct product or service links in their posts, potentially earning commissions for their endorsements.
These are just a glimpse of the exciting developments we can expect in 2024, where forward-thinking brands will harness influencer marketing to its fullest potential, effectively reaching their target audiences with precision and efficiency.