The term ‘influencer’ is used a great deal in marketing circles. For many it’s becoming a new ‘go-to’ movement for marketing.
The thinking is, that if we get our product into the hands of someone with a big social media following then we’ll get exposure and we’ll grow sales and our brand.
We see individuals on social media who have no knowledge or experience with a brand, doing something completely unrelated to the brand, and then mentioning the name. And they’re getting paid vast sums of money for it.
Whether their channel is Instagram, YouTube, Twitch or any other social channel, it can be seen as a quick route to reach a specific demographic.
The problem with influencer marketing
As I’ve observed this growing phenomenon, it’s struck me that surely the only people doing well out of this is the guy with the social media following. People with a large following but no real product understanding or knowledge are earning many thousands of pounds a time to do something – anything, on their social media channels.
It feels like the influencer with a social media following has become a replacement for TV channel with the right demographic. It’s more about association than it is about product sales.
An influencer with 2.6million followers who couldn’t sell 30 items of clothing for her own brand illustrates the point well in this example below. Following does not equate to sales.
The idea of association with a TV channel, or even sponsorship is a credible one though. The brands being invested in are usually strong, established and clearly representative of their target audience (football clubs, large TV channels etc,). The risks involved in allocating similar budget to individuals with a YouTube channel are quite something else.
I could rant on…
The danger all of this has, is that it devalues influencer marketing. Good influencer marketing is a genuinely powerful medium, it always has been!
How to get influencer marketing right
So how do you ensure your influencer marketing strategy is on the right track. The answer to that question is a longer piece than this, but, to start on the right footing, there are three core elements to consider before starting successful influencer marketing:
1. Finding people with a genuine connection with your brand/product
Does the person you’re looking to work with use your product, and do they like your product? If they don’t use your product, but you’d like them to, are they in your sector and are they interested in your kind of products?
These are important tests, because when it comes to influencers and ambassadors for your brand, we want the person to be a genuine advocate. The kind of quotes/language we’re looking for from our influencer might be ‘I use x product because it is better, faster, more accurate, gives me confidence… etc.’
2. With real knowledge
To be an advocate for a product you have to understand it. You have to be able to answer questions about it. If a conversation goes like:
“Do you think this product is the best available? Yes, as long as you have no further questions about why.”
Then confidence isn’t built, it’s eroded.
3. Has a following in your target market(s)
This is one area where much of the current influencer marketing work is targeted. If the influencers you work with don’t have a reach into your target markets, then they aren’t an influencer. In the modern world this is often measured by social media following, that may or may not be a relevant measure and we need to understand that. Other factors might be that they present at a wide range of exhibitions, or they might have very direct relationships with a number of key contacts in your sector.
Building great influencer marketing campaigns is an important strategy for many businesses. For me, it starts with choosing the right influencers. Throwing money at anyone with a social media following isn’t a strategy, it’s a waste.
Working with genuinely connected, engaged, knowledgeable individuals who have reach into your target markets, that’s a plan.