HOW TO UTILIZE AND MANAGE THEM IN BUILDING YOUR BRAND
A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Now, it seems like we’ve seen social media influencers rise, saturate the market even to alarming possibly fraudulent proportions.
WHAT IS INFLUENCER MARKETING?
Influencer marketing is a strategy where a brand partners with a person who has a large social media following and a built-in audience that fits the brand’s target demographic. The status of these influencers depends on their total influence. An influencer may be limited to a single social media platform or have a presence across several different channels which definitely increases the influencers status and value.
At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
According to Hubspot, Influencer marketing is the process of engaging leading, niche content creators to improve brand awareness, increase traffic, and drive your brand’s to your target audience. These content creators already market to your ideal audience across different channels which allows you to expand your reach across your buyer personas.
WHY INFLUENCER MARKETING?
Influencer marketing has become a very successful marketing strategy because of its word-of-mouth and social proof approach to marketing. Customers over time has come to trust their peers, friends, and people they admire more than the companies selling the products and services they buy and use and as such will readily agree and accept the testimonials and word of mouth advert of such individuals as opposed to the advertising and marketing claims of the organizations selling those products and services.
Influencer marketing like every other marketing tool is an investment that must be deployed appropriately to derive the benefit from it. Time has to be painstakingly devoted to the process of trying to ensure the right influencer to promote the right content that appeals to your target audience is obtained especially as there are different types of influencers and not all types of influencers are appropriate for all groups, target audience and brands.
A lot of money and/ or resources to reward the influencer and to run various campaigns with the influencer(s) are involved the more reason why deliberate efforts have to be made in choosing influencers that are in sync with your specific marketing goals and brand’s objectives.
INFLUENCER MARKETING STATISTICS
According to Influencer marketing hub.com the Influencer marketing industry grew from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.7 billion in 2020. In 2021, it soared to $13.8 billion, and is projected to expand to a whopping $16.4 billion industry in 2022. It has also gradually grown into a mainline marketing strategy where about 93% of marketers regularly use it in their marketing and advertising campaigns.
In 2019, 17% of surveyed businesses committed over 50% of their marketing budgets to influencer marketing. Almost nine out of 10 marketers see influencer marketing ROI as comparable or superior to that of other marketing channels which in real terms was an average of $6.50 on every dollar spent on influencer marketing in 2018.
Research has also shown that 49% of customers rely on influencers’ advice while marketing managers point to influencer marketing as the “fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method”. 94% of marketers deem influencer marketing campaigns as very successful
Instagram which saw a slight decrease in use in 2020, is still the most preferred platform for influencer marketing. Its popularity increased in 2021, with the majority of brands choosing Instagram as their preferred channel for their influencer marketing campaigns, despite having less monthly active users (1.3 billion) than Facebook, with (2.89 billion) monthly active users.
BRAND INFLUENCERS & AMBASSADORS
ACTIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A BRAND INFLUENCER & AMBASSADOR
Brand influencers are a more recent concept and development in marketing and as such needs to be clearly differentiated from the prior concepts of brand endorsements and brand ambassador roles of different celebrities. Many companies use these terms interchangeably. Influencers and brand ambassadors can fulfill the same basic purposes especially as both share your product with their audience, which helps you grow your customer base. However, several key factors separate brand ambassadors and influencers.
WHO ARE BRAND AMBASSADORS?
Brand ambassadors are real people who love your brand and your products. These individuals actively use your brand’s products, and they want to spread the word about your products because they are passionate about seeing your brand succeed. They can be looked upon as “top-notch cheerleaders” for the brand.
Brand ambassadors are usually also experts in your brand, and experts at promoting your products casually, via word-of-mouth. They may not always be celebrities, and they don’t always have a gargantuan network of social media followers. But, they are often authorities in their field—and the field your brand serves. For example, a dentist makes a credible brand ambassador for mouthwash and a fitness instructor makes a reliable brand ambassador for wellness and health products.
WHAT ARE THIER SADDLED RESPONSIBILITY
A brand ambassador is also the "face" of the brand. Ideally, the candidate is a tastemaker in their communities, and should plan to use already established networks and relationships to market the brand via word-of-mouth marketing tactics (i.e. referring friends, posting about the brand online, etc.). He or she is specifically engaged to increase brand awareness and boost conversions and sales. On top of that, a brand ambassador will also represent their company at specific events, where they may perform product demonstrations or give away sample products.
Brand influencer to a person who has a following especially online within a specific niche that they engage with regularly which gives them the power or ability to impact and influence their purchase decisions. Influencers are extremely vocal about a topic or brand, and typically use social media as a vehicle to express their opinions. They seem to have an innate ability to influence those around them. Such individuals may be micro-influencers, or everyday people who happen to be food, travel, fashion, and other types of bloggers. They may have around 1,000, 20,000, 50,000 or hundreds of thousand followers followers but are effective at engaging their audience and creating buzz about a brand.
In most cases, an influencer is used to help a brand launch one new product or service, and most of the time the brand will hire more than one influencer to reach as many potential clients as possible. Influencer Marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools which takes the idea of celebrity endorsement and places it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BRAND INFLUENCER & A BRAND AMBASSADOR
The difference between a brand influencer and a brand ambassador is the platform of influence.
The brand ambassador may have acquired his role as an influencer as a result of excelling in some other fields like sports, movies or entertainment and is therefore expected to transfer those influence generated from another platform or area of life as a basis of influencing the customers or consumers of the products and services that they represent.
The brand influencer on the other hand acquired his or her influence as a result of direct engagement, conversation or positioning with the customers or groups of customers in a particular niche or area within which he or she is expected to expand or use as a basis of influencing consumers within that niche.
A brand influencer might have acquired influence only within the range of fashion; ladies’ fashion, IT etc and can just be expected to offer respected views and opinions within such niche areas. Any effort to venture beyond such niche areas into broader areas will lose credibility. However, the brand ambassador primarily cashes in on his or her popularity or performance within a particular area to extend his or her influence towards the consumers.