Influencer Marketing is “a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole.” (Source definition: Wikipedia)
Not a new concept; to influence you must produce a change in thinking or behaviour. We can link this back to early ads in print and on television, convincing consumers that their plates would be cleaner if they brought a particular brand of washing up liquid. Or, that their hair would look just like the model in the advert if they purchased a certain shampoo. An influencer is someone who has the power and platform to influence others. Back in the early days of advertising the influencers were the companies who had the finance to produce advertisements. But with the digital revolution and the increased popularity of online platforms, a new level of influence has emerged.
Bloggers, YouTubers, Cyberstars, Instafamous…
70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTube video creators more than traditional celebrities. (SproutSocial). Marketing is no longer necessarily about the best product, consumers are looking to create a connection with a brand. When putting together a Digital Marketing Strategy it is now essential to consider “Contextual Credibility,” trust and authority, knowledge and expertise on a specific topic or product.
For example, a make-up product would be more credible being used/discussed in a video by a well known make-up blogger. They would most likely have followers who trust them, want to be like them and would more than likely purchase a product endorsed by them that they have probably seen the blogger use.
Money, Money, Money
Unlike celebrities, influencers don’t always ask for a huge paycheck to endorse a product. Most social media influencers want recognition, followers, likes, shares. Their role relies on them offering value to their followers, a blog worthy product, or epic share post is worth more to an influencer than a fee.
Finding an Influencer
There are various levels of influencers; celebrities, macro influencers – those with a huge social media following, and micro influencers – a smaller following but can be just as effective. In order to reach your target market the influencer would ideally have a similar tone of communication and style to the brand and have a relevant audience. Using a YouTuber who is well known for computer gaming to endorse a bath product isn’t necessarily the best fit.
Bonus Both Ways
Felix Baumgartner was relatively unknown, unless you were into extreme sports, until 2012. Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink in the world. Baumgartner and Red Bull and began working on a world record attempt in 2010. Until this point he had made quite a name for himself becoming the first person to skydive across the English Channel and BASE jumping from various landmarks around the world.
In October 2012 Baumgartner reached speeds of 843.6 mph, breaking the sound barrier and jumping 120,100 ft. The “Red Bull Stratos” event was streamed live on YouTube and broadcast around the world. YouTube records were smashed with eight million concurrent views, the highest ever in the website’s history. Twitter reported 3.1 millions tweets about the event, 669,000 likes on the Red Bull Facebook page, 20,000 comments on Baumgartner’s landing picture.
Red Bull didn’t promote their actual product throughout the whole experience, instead they let their brand speak for itself, clever placement, good social media links and association with someone who was well known in extreme sports worked hugely to their advantage. They mixed extreme sports with science, with history, with a well known energy drink brand and stormed social media. Not only did it boost their brand, they reported a 13% increase on worldwide sales the following year, and in 2013 Felix Baumgartner won the Laureus World Action Sportsman of the Year award.
The brand offered consumers an experience, but even more they offered an experience they could engage with by interacting on social media, project updates, interviews, videos – all contributed to the success. Sometimes it’s not about saying “here is our product – please buy it.”