By Charles Tidswell, VP JAPAC, Socialbakers
Gone are the days of traditional advertising. Fast forward to 2018, the role of traditional advertising has been reimagined with influencer marketing. The fast-growing industry is arguably one of the biggest and most effective ways for brands to reach audiences on social media. It is now an integral component to most brands’ digital marketing strategy due to its ability to help brands gain exposure quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Influencer marketing has stepped into the limelight of the digital marketing world, delivering a promise to brands like never before. By partnering with influencers to launch sponsored content campaigns, brands can tap into a treasure trove of potential customers.
From Buzzword to Boon
If a picture speaks a thousand words, selfies are priceless.
Influencer marketing has proven to be a successful tool, with brands receiving a high return on investment (ROI). In fact, influencer marketing on Instagram generates, on average, a revenue of US$6.85 per dollar spent on marketing, while delivering a 37 percent higher customer retention rate.
This success is evident among a rising category of influencers known as micro influencers. Micro influencers typically have between 1,000 to 100,000 followers, are active within a specific niche and have the distinct ability to cast an impact on their followers. This powerful group of influencers have gained significant traction in recent months as they tend to have a tight-knit relationship with their audience, and thus have better engagement and conversion rates as compared to other types of influencers.
The entertainment industry is no stranger to banking on the authority of influencers. Brands such as Netflix, Spotify and Sony Pictures have been known to work with micro influencers across campaigns that are centered around building awareness and customer acquisition.
This growing trend is no longer limited to the entertainment industry. Given the popularity of influencer marketing, government agencies have also jumped on the bandwagon, engaging micro influencers to endorse public service campaigns.
In an endless quest to create engaging content, brands often force a message or try to take creative control over the process
Earlier this year, Singapore’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) recruited over 50 micro influencers to create awareness of the recent Budget 2018. The campaign aimed to get youths to take a more active interest in the Budget process, reaching them through a channel where they are present—social media. The Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) followed in these footsteps to launch its #ClimateActionSGPhoto Contest campaign. The campaign saw micro influencers posing in pictures showcasing eco-friendly habits, while encouraging their audience to follow suit, in a bid to create awareness around climate change.
While influencer marketing is quickly becoming a popular method of customer acquisition, it has sparked some debate and criticism over the lack of trust and authenticity.
Content is king, but not just any type of content. Customers have an insatiable appetite for more authentic and transparent content. This is an element that is valued in influencer marketing as it is the main attribute that sets it apart from other traditional marketing methods.
But in an endless quest to create engaging content, brands often force a message or try to take creative control over the process. However, today content creation is no longer in the hands of brands, influencers have a key role in the stories brands communicate as they know how to create content that best resonates with their audience in order to maintain a high engagement.
In influencer marketing, authenticity is not just limited to content, but also includes the creative expression between the brand’s objectives, influencer vision, and audience connection. This is why partnering with the right influencer is key. When considering influencers to partner with, brands need to assure that the influencer’s overall personal brand aligns with the brand’s core values.
Building trust is an ongoing process—and if done right—has the potential to convert audiences into advocates.
Fad or the Future?
It is without a doubt that influencer marketing is on an upward trajectory and shows no signs of stopping. But its future, like any marketing strategy, is subject to changes in trends, audiences and technologies. This includes the use of AI to identify influencers that their audience trusts, engages with and share similar interests to.
Social media platforms have taken notice of this trend and have started introducing platform-based innovations that make influencer marketing and outreach not only more convenient, but also more profitable. Instagram took a step in this direction with the introduction of its ‘paid partnerships’ tag to eliminate some of the risks associated with creating sponsored posts, and other platforms are sure to follow suit.
As the industry is poised for further growth, it is likely that brands will divert their focus on influencer marketing and make greater investments to reap the full benefits. Reaching the right demographic and niche audiences will also be a priority for brands moving forward. Get it right, and influencer marketing can truly deliver real engagement.