Over the past couple of years, influencer marketing has grown to become one of the most sought after marketing strategies to create brand and product awareness. According to Edelman’s 10 Trends Influencing 2020 report, the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2022, up from $8 billion in 2019.
According to research by HubSpot, 80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective, and 89% say it works as well if not better than other marketing channels. 49% of consumers today depend on influencer recommendations for their purchase decisions. 60% say they’ve been influenced by a recommendation when shopping in-store. Myself, I’ve bought food items, clothes and even choose my new dentist based on influencer recommendations across social media platforms. In case you’re wondering, it was the best dental appointment I’ve ever had.
When choosing an influencer, audience relationship is the most valuable factor. This changes with the type of influencer. The two main types of influencers in Kenya are micro-influencers and celebrity influencers.
A micro-influencer is one who has between a thousand to tens of thousands of followers within their niche. Due to the small size of their following, they typically have high engagement rates. Having a smaller audience allows micro-influencers to bond with the people who follow them as compared to an influencer with a million or more followers. This makes them appealing to businesses looking to develop personal relationships among their key audience.
Celebrity influencers are famous people with large followings, often in the millions — who are known across many industries. In Kenya, they include tv personalities such as actors, comedians and tv show hosts. They’re widely recognized and enjoy fierce loyalty, therefore, they have the potential to be very successful influencers.
How to pick your Influencer.
As an agency or brand, before picking an influencer, you must first define the goals of your campaign. These goals will enable you to measure your campaign. One of the challenges of influencer marketing is measuring your ROI. The best metrics to measure influencer marketing efforts are Reach, relevance, and resonance.
You must also define your campaign audience. Your audience defines which influencer you pick. While different influencers have different ways of communicating with their audiences, your audience as a brand remains the same. Involve your marketing team to develop your buyer personas. Once you’ve figured this out it becomes much easier to select the influencer who sells to that audience.
Once you’ve defined your goals and audience personas, setting the budget for your campaign is the next important step. This will depend on the length of the project and the type of influencer i.e a micro-influencer or a celebrity influencer.
Some of the additional notes while picking an influencer are:-
- Do they fit your brand image?
- Are your key audiences active on the influencer’s platform (youtube, Twitter Instagram)?
- Personality fit. Are you a great cultural fit?
Audiences are often very sensitive to the influencers they follow. They can tell when the messaging is not authentic or when an influencer has conformed to fit certain brand expectations of them. According to a report by Edelman, Millennials and Gen Z are becoming warier and distrustful of artificial or inauthentic influencer content, creating a new challenge for influencers and brands. This introduces the discussion on creative control. To what extent can a company control the narrative while allowing the influencer creative control?
As with any other campaign, you must share your brand guidelines with the influencer as representatives of your brand. This includes language, tone, and hashtags to use. You have to come to an understanding with the influencer if you’ll be providing content for them to post or if they’ll be creating the content on their own. With the former, you should consider the influencer’s voice, personality, and brand while creating content. Otherwise, it may come off as robotic and inauthentic.
Eventually, you’ll have to finalize expectations between yourself and the influencer. Most influencers already have systems and processes through which they work. You may have your expectations of them but remember they have expectations of you as well. These could include, business hours, payment methods, deadlines, modes of communications and rewards or merchandise they could try out.
A concern that has risen in Kenya among influencers is the expectation that they work for free. It’s important to remember that influencers are business owners, brands and entrepreneurs. Their work has monetary value. Asking influencers to take merchandise in lieu of monetary compensation is not only morally wrong but condescending. It could create a negative image of your brand among influencers and in some cases their audience.
Influencer marketing trends for the next decade
Employees will become influencers
This has already begun with big brands such as Louis Vuitton who’s sales assistants popularly known as SA’s have built large followings on Instagram. The employees will introduce new designs that have just reached the stores, do unboxing videos of the merchandise and even show their buyers how to style the items.
Other ways of employee influencer marketing are the more popular speaker events. Invest in your employees as industry leaders and put them front and center at events discussing matters related to your industry.
Investing in long term relationships
Brands have been hiring influencers for one time campaigns and it can become quite expensive to build a new relationship every other time.
As we move into the next decade, we’ll likely see brands building long-term partnerships instead. It saves money and builds trust among audiences for the brand especially in an industry that is increasingly demanding authenticity from brands and influencers.