It’s no surprise that the rise of social media has made way for inventive marketing strategies. Hate it or love it, but embrace the fact that influencer marketing is here to stay. Consider that 80 percent of Internet users have a social media account and three-fourths of all social media users have used a social media platform when shopping. It is, again, no surprise that brands want to work with and ‘befriend’ influencers to promote their companies.
Let’s look at what exactly is an influencer. The term is used more broadly and more diversely today than ever before. Brands have noticed that social media influencers come in all shapes and sizes, from the mega-celebrity-status influencer to the micro- and nano-influencers with just a few thousand followers.
Is the future in influencer marketing?
Let’s narrow it down and search for the answer on Quora, a site holding a fair amount of clout and hailed by Forbes Magazine as “the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world”. As recently as 10 January, I came across an excellent answer to the question “What is the future for influencer marketing?” The respondent started by explaining what an influencer is: “Influencers convey marketing and communication messages on behalf of corporations and brands. Influencers are intermediaries between companies and brands and an audience.”
Doesn’t this remind those of us who can still remember how referrals worked back in the days (before social media) when we used to ask our friends for recommendations and valued it enough to act on it, and when this exchange lead to a purchase? In this digital world, we as social media users have become reliant on our online ‘friends’ or community to recommend products and services to us.
Going back to Quora, in her answer the respondent continued to lay out the relationship triangle in detail. At the end of the answer, it struck a chord and brought me back to the question of why brands CANNOT ignore the relevance of this breed of influential ‘friends’. She boldly stated: “When an influencer recommends products, brands or services, impact on sales is directly observable.”
No longer remarkable, but a communications imperative
Three years ago, Influencer Marketing Hub conducted their first influencer marketing survey. What has changed is that we are no longer talking about the name of the 2017 study The Remarkable Rise of Influencer Marketing, as a question, but that we have rather integrated the practice as a fundamental part of how brands communicate with their publics.
Influencer Marketing Hub’s recently released report The State of Influencer Marketing 2019 showed that 92% of participating marketing agencies confirmed its effectiveness. A whopping 82% of participants believed that the quality of customers from influencer marketing campaigns is better than from other forms of marketing.
Brands now appear to understand that the best way to measure influencer marketing return on investment is by using a metric that measures the goals of your campaigns. For example, a brand focusing on awareness should use a different measure of ROI success than a brand using influencer marketing to increase its sales.
With that said, if nearly everyone agrees that it’s important, what do brands need to know about this hot topic so they can best take advantage of it?
Let’s investigate the why. Brands undertake influencer marketing for different reasons. The goals and objectives of those surveyed were varied:
- 37% of respondents indicated that they create influencer marketing campaigns for awareness purposes.
- 32% has the more clear-cut objective of increasing sales.
- 31% engages in influencer marketing to build up a library of user-generated content. The perceived value of user-generated content is growing over time, and we predict more brands make this a prime objective in future surveys.
This has a direct result on new solutions being formed to aid brands in pinpointing the best influencers to partner with to reach their goals. The US alone has seen 320 new platforms and influencer marketing agencies mushrooming during 2019 and 550 over the past three years.
The Hatch Content Collab Community
Influencer Marketing Hub’s survey revealed that only 43% of respondents feel that automation can result in successful influencer marketing. Clearly, trust in automated connectors is not yet established. Wouldn’t it be sensible to put your brand in the hands of those who know their content best? Why? Because those who are writing brand content and designing communication strategies are the ones who at the same time nurturing the relationships and friendships they have with those who are relaying brand stories – the media, influencers and the blogger community.
Over at Hatch headquarters, we are excited to launch the Content Collab Community, a programme intended to bridge the gap between brands and influencers more fully. And we have designed it in such a way to streamline processes and find even better ways of working together.
We believe through our role as connectors that we can add a lot more value by closely aligning our content generator allies to our brand allies. We hand pick the absolute cream of the crop for our brands’ specific objectives. By signing up a wide spectrum of influencers of all shapes and forms, the value is two-fold for influencers and brands alike.
Participating influencers gain access to campaign strategy workshops, where they can participate early on in the brainstorm process, albeit photographic assignments or campaigns, content ideation or other innovative ways of getting the attention of THEIR followers. It’s not just about the inevitable perks such as gaining access to exclusive brand events, but influencers have the real opportunity to influence strategies alongside the brand, under the guidance of an agency that understands both sides of the sometimes very literal coin.
Sign me up?
Brands, if you are like the 86% of businesses with the intent to dedicate a portion of their marketing budget to influencer marketing this year, contact us today to find out how we can advance your unstoppable business growth path by connecting you to the right influencers.
By Sunet Schoonees, Account Director at Hatch Communication