The last few months have highlighted how marketers need to be creative and nimble in their efforts to reach and motivate consumers. Americans have been spending more time at home, which has limited the reach of traditional out-of-home and in-store channels. On-location shoots for TV ads and online video are hard to produce when many locations and studios are closed and on-screen talent and production talent staff can’t or won’t travel. Media planning is suffering from a lack of new ad content to slot and schedule, and a lack of new network entertainment and sports content to draw viewers. Likewise, in-store activations, which are typically used to help drive the last mile to capture a sale, have largely been on hold as consumers’ store visits are down.
At the same time, consumers have been spending more time online and replacing trips to the store with online shopping. E-commerce is up 46%, and social media usage also has risen since the pandemic began.
To continue to reach consumers, some brands and their agency partners have been reimagining marketing by shifting spending to channels where they can develop and implement impactful campaigns under current conditions. One of these channels receiving increased investment is influencer marketing. Because of the unique strengths of the influencer channel, influencers are a one-stop shop — they can deliver on creative, media and sales goals in a single campaign.
For a brand looking to work with influencers for the first time, or interested in scaling up in the channel, here are three key tips to get started:
1. Think about influencers as brand storytellers (and let them use their voices).
Influencers have large and engaged audiences because they’re authentic storytellers. Influencer campaigns deliver the best results when the influencer shares messaging about a brand in their own voice, to the audience they’ve developed over the years. Effective influencers understand their audience better than anyone and can be powerful partners in messaging development. When influencers give messaging feedback, brands should listen and potentially adapt. Influencers operate like independent production shops, so look for those who can produce beautiful video and photo content that strongly represents your brand.
2. Work with them to help scale your content (and audience reach).
Influencer campaigns can reach broad audiences, with reach in the tens of millions. Social audience planning and measurement tools allow detailed targeting of consumers by analyzing the characteristics of influencer audiences.
While celebrity influencers can offer large audiences on a stand-alone basis, large audiences can also be built through a single campaign by aggregating midsize and micro-influencers. When choosing influencers for your campaign, look for influencers who have strong engagement rates (i.e., likes, comments, views and shares). For mega and celebrity influencers — those with a million or more followers — this means engagement rates of at least 2%. For midsize influencers — those with 50,000 or more followers — this means engagement rates of at least 5%. And finally, for micro-influencers — those with under 50,000 followers — this means engagement rates of at least 7%.
To optimize the value of the influencer content that is developed for a campaign, track the best-performing content in terms of audience engagement, and use that content in programmatic and social ad units, as well as in-store promotion. This will help maximize the value of your influencer campaign.
3. Always make sure there’s a clear call to action.
Like digital video or banners, influencer content can integrate a call to action to drive sales. We’ve seen many instances where click-through rates were much higher for influencer content than with other digital or social ads because the audience trusts the influencer as an advocate for the brand.
There are many ways to find and work with influencers. To find influencers, it’s easiest to research who is driving the social conversation about your brand or its category. Reviewing their feed and post history will provide a great initial screen on fit with the brand and campaign voice and goals. To get the relationship established with influencers, it’s often easiest to reach out directly — many will respond to messages on social media or list their contact information in their profiles.
The best part is that all of this is trackable. Value attribution and ROI frameworks for influencer marketing are well established. In addition, the cycle time of influencer campaigns is measured in weeks, not months. In a time when traditional ways of creating content are difficult, influencers are one way to fill the gap.
Originally posted at Forbes.com
– Aliza Freud, CEO & Founder of SheSpeaks