Reprinted from Forbes
Author Joel Mathew
President of Fortress Consulting Group
Although influencer marketing is not a new concept within the industry, it has become wildly popular in the past few years. As the world around us becomes more technologically advanced, influencer marketing has made its way to the forefront and companies are devoting more time and effort to the tactic than ever before. As a digital agency that is constantly looking for ways to give our clients an advantage, we recommend and implement influencer marketing as part of a cohesive digital marketing plan to help get brands on the map. More and more, we are seeing our clients shift focus to influencer marketing to propel their brand through social media.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a relationship between a brand and an influencer. The influencer promotes the brand’s products or services through various media outlets such as Instagram and YouTube. Not to be confused with celebrity endorsements, influencer marketing does more than just attach a well-known celebrity to a brand. Influencers must be trusted figures within a niche community and retain a loyal following. In addition, they typically possess knowledge or experience about what they are advertising.
For example, a popular fitness vlogger on YouTube with extensive knowledge in weight training and proper nutrition may be asked to do advertising for sportswear or a supplement company. On occasion, an influencer may not have experience relevant to the product they are advertising. In this situation, they rely on the trust and loyalty they have built within their community to influence their followers. Common influencer categories include adventurists, photographers, food enthusiasts, how-to experts, beauticians, artists, models and comedians to name a few.
Influencers operate independently, creating their own content and integrating a company’s advertising specifications into it. The influencer is in control of the brand’s message, choosing how they would like to portray it. This promotes authenticity and can help reach a specific target audience. The monetary value of an influencer is typically calculated by the size of their social following as well as the platform they are using. On Instagram, industry experts suggest a price point of $1,000 per 100,000 followers. This price should be adjusted further depending on the reach and relevance of your influencer. On YouTube, a price point of $100 per 1,000 views is standard. The beauty of influencer marketing is that anyone can become an influencer, and businesses have a plethora to choose from, allowing them to reach large target audiences.
Why Is Influencer Marketing So Important?
Not long before technological advancements, scheduled television was virtually the only mass media consumers had access to and was one of the main platforms marketers used to advertise to the masses. Today, with the creation of the internet and the popularity of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, consumers have unlimited freedom and choice over the content they wish to view. This creates a problem for brands. As their target audience continues to spread out over various forms of media, it becomes increasingly difficult to reach them.
As a result, marketers discovered that influencer marketing could offer a solution to the problem. It allows brands to locate and advertise directly to their target audience. Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of brands and their marketing tactics, and building trust is crucial. Advertising through influencers allows brands to promote through someone that a niche community watches, engages with and trusts on a daily basis. So, instead of being skeptical of a commercial or social media ad, consumers are trusting that if their influencer of choice loves the product, they will too.
What To Look Out For
Unlike most marketing strategies, influencer marketing requires a high level of trust between a brand and a third party. Although influencers are often required to sign lawful contracts, the care of the brand’s reputation is essentially in their keeping. A brand must be sure the influencer’s content aligns with their overall image. The use of uncanny or offensive content could have negative consequences on the brand’s reputation. This is especially important when working with young influencers who may lack maturity and professionalism.
A company should also be careful of fake followers. An influencer can purchase fake followers, making them appear to have a much larger fan base than they actually do. When picking an influencer, first make sure their followers were obtained organically. Although this can be done manually, it is much easier to use a tool that checks for you, such as InstaCheck. The tool is designed to detect fake accounts by analyzing their engagement, spam and overall activity. There are many platforms available for influencer marketing. We recommend taking a look at Klear, Traackr and HYPR as great starting points.