What is influencer marketing and how can it benefit your company?
Back in October, Onalytica published a white paper appropriately named ‘The Definitive Practical Guide to Influencer Relationship Management’. The white paper defines what influencer relationship management is and practically, how you can make it work.
Influencer marketing is often mistaken for what we refer to as influencer advertising; paying high-profile individuals with a large following for product placements and social media mentions. As the title of the white paper suggests, we view true influencer marketing as a relationship building exercise.
In this post, we’re going to take you through exactly what influencer marketing is and why every brand should be doing it. We’ve even got an infographic visually summarising all of the glorious information below.
Let’s elaborate – what is influencer marketing?
As we’ve already touched on briefly, the influencer industry is fast moving, evolving, nascent and fragmented – a recipe for making it extremely difficult to define.
Although the industry category and buzzword is ‘influencer marketing’ we focus more on the influencer relationship management approach. This comprises of brands organically engaging with relevant influencers to build long-lasting, authentic relationships. The end result: influencers naturally advocating a brand they genuinely believe in, rather than a transparent, paid for opinion.
The brand-influencer partnerships should be built on an equal value basis- delivering value to your brand, the influencer and both theirs and your audience. Working with influencers on a paid, owned, earned and borrowed basis.
What this means, is that while paying influencers shouldn’t be a focus, it is sometimes appropriate and effective. The more popular the influencers are, the more likely this is to be their day job and main source of income- you can’t always expect them to work for free right? The key takeaway here is that you should be paying influencers for their time, not their opinion.
In short, there’s no right or wrong definition, so long as there is a genuine connection between you and the influencer and that you are providing value to your target audience.
Why should you be doing it?
Contrary to popular belief, influencer marketing isn’t new
Influencer marketing isn’t the latest marketing craze. It is just a slightly different way of doing things we’ve always done. Brands have always associated themselves with popular individuals, but influencer marketing involves building partnerships and relationships- this is a longer term, more authentic and organic approach.
The rise in social media channels
Since 2006 there has been a meteoric rise in social media and digital channels. Individuals and brands both large and small can publish content at the click of a button. What this means is the sea of content is far larger and more densely populated; consumers are exposed to a higher quantity of posts, decreasing their attention span and information retention- how can you stand out and be seen?
In addition to this, social media has in many cases cut out the PR agency middleman. You can now engage direct with influencers to build relationships and pose partnering opportunities. Influencers can make a fairly quick assessment and judgement as to whether the brand is aligned to them and their audience, without a huge amount of work.
Brand loyalty and trust are decreasing
With consumers’ shortening attention spans comes an inherent lack of trust and loyalty towards brands. Consumers are trusting logos less and humans more; no longer are they treating newspaper and television adverts as gospel, but they’re trusting recommendations from their peers and even strangers more.
Traditional advertising isn’t as effective
With the above said, traditional advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be. The demise of traditional advertising is down to a number of factors: Ad blocking is minimising the amount of content viewed; there is increased competition for Pay-per-click (PPC) meaning that businesses often out price themselves from the competition and increased media exposure has meant that consumers are more savvy about brands only pushing their agenda.
Influencers can make your voice louder in the noise
In this period of mass content and noise, society has turned to the key influencers they trust to make informed judgements about brands, products and issues. Building relationships with the right influencers can, therefore, be the catalyst to improving brand value and increasing sales. Being associated with the leading influencers gives brands a credibility & trust that they cannot get anywhere else. It is a halfway house between advertising and PR that many brands feel is the best way for them to communicate their messages effectively. Since the economic crisis of 2008 there is a new found cynicism associated with politicians, newspapers and large brands and this lack of trust makes it hard for brands to get their marketing messages to consumers
Shift from deference to reference
As Marketing Week published back in 2009, there has been an “evolutionary shift from deference to reference; deference being people accepting what they are told and reference being people asking advice from peers.” We are at the “age of emotional proximity”, where peer recommendations surpass all other marketing.
It’s cost and time effective
Compared to social media community management, influencer marketing is extremely cost effective – especially if you are struggling for internal marketing resource. A Forrester research study shows that “6.2% of key influencers are responsible for 80% of the influence in social media”. Engaging with a select group of influencers with the potential to deliver impact across your wider marketplace will deliver the best bang for your buck. Co-creating content with influencers both improves quality and saves time on content creation.
Influencers are experts
Influencers are often consultants, practitioners, and authors in their fields, hence their opinions are highly regarded and influence the marketplace. Brands partnering with industry experts inspires customers, prospects, innovation and cutting-edge technologies through borrowing their thought leadership.
If you want to learn more, click here to download Onalytica’s full white paper on Influencer Marketing.
Thanks to Alicia Russel for sharing her opinions in this post. Alicia is the Digital Marketing Executive at Onalytica, a provider of consultancy led Influencer Relationship Management Software. At Onalytica, she works to educate the industry, while driving inbound leads through social media, SEO optimized thought leadership content and email marketing. You can follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.