Posted on July 24, 2018 by anstice communications
By Meaghan Baxter
The term “influencer” has become ubiquitous among any audience that engages with social media. These popular influencers have the power to sway their followers’ opinion and perception of a brand with a single post—for better or worse—and influencer marketing has become an integral tactic in brand strategies to capture and retain new audiences.
But who qualifies as an influencer? This title was originally granted to someone with an extremely high social-media following, but the landscape has changed. As more social media users become self-proclaimed influencers—and may not have the followers or engagement to back it up—it becomes more difficult to determine which influencers will yield strong ROI for a brand. In fact, some brands now refuse to work with influencers due to the volume of requests they receive for free product or experiences, while others have implemented rigid application processes to vet prospective influencers.
This market saturation is why many brands turn to PR and marketing firms to help them run influencer campaigns. Anstice, for example, keeps a database of trusted influencers who provide value to a brand’s audience and maintain authentic followings that reach the right demographic and provide the best value.
The numbers game
Trusted advocacy is the most important influence, so it is imperative to partner with someone who reflects the values and aesthetic of your brand, in addition to being viewed as a trusted source by your target demographic. Choosing an influencer that will provide the best value and drive conversions isn’t necessarily about who has the most followers.
Influencers are grouped into two categories: macro and micro. Macro-influencers have more than 10,000 followers, while micro-influencers have between 1,000 and 10,000. The number of followers a macro-influencer has may look impressive, but it’s important to factor their engagement rate into the equation—which includes likes, meaningful comments, shares and so on. For example, a macro-influencer may only receive 200 likes on a post when their following is in the tens of thousands, which shows that content isn’t good enough to get through the platform’s algorithm, or their followers may not be authentic. It’s easy to buy followers on social media or use bots, and this tactic will be evident through an influencer’s engagement rates.
Micro-influencers, however, often have strong engagement rates and organic followings that are located within your target market. In fact, micro-influencers have an engagement rate of 8%, while macro-influencers have an engagement rate of 2.5%. This may be true, but its only math If eight people of 100 like a post it’s an 8% engagement rate (ER), but if eight people of 400 like a post it’s a 2% ER. Can you add some balance? Interestingly, all of this may be redundant since what your business is really looking for is a business result, not likes on a post. In this vein, it’s interesting to look at business results and a separate study by Experticity showed that micro-influencers drive 22.2 times more conversions than the average social media user.
Micro-influencers are also often perceived as more authentic than macro-influencers, who are approached constantly by brands that may or may not align with their identity. Micro-influencers, in contrast, often approach brands that align with their interests and values—and in turn, those of their followers—which leads to genuine brand engagement and awareness. Brands need to consider which type of influencer will be most beneficial in reaching their outlined objective and provide the best value.
The influencer market continues to grow—it’s estimated to be worth $10 billion by 2020—and influencers provide a plethora of ways for brands to expand beyond their designated industry, such as fashion bloggers teaming up with restaurants to create increased awareness among their respective audiences.
But working with influencers should be a reciprocal partnership. Both parties have worked hard to build their brands, and an influencer marketing campaign should demonstrate authority and credibility—it’s not about a quick win. Be up front about your business’s goals, discuss what can be done to achieve them throughout the duration of the partnership, and be open to ideas for how best to generate positive results. Keep communication open and consistent to ensure both parties feel confident in the partnership—remember that positive offline relationships are still important, even when a partnership happens predominantly in the digital realm.
Followers implicitly trust the opinion of an influencer, and many favour social media over traditional media as their primary source of information. With this in mind, brands must develop ongoing relationships with influencers that extend beyond one-off partnerships. This type of ongoing relationship creates a sense of authenticity within the influencer’s social media content while increasing brand loyalty among followers and opportunity for continuous dialogue.
Set up for success
There have been instances where so-called influencers have received expensive experiences or products from a company without following through on their promised posts or stories. To avoid this and receive strong ROI from your influencer marketing, there must be clear guidelines, expectations and contracts implemented from the start of the partnership.
Determine a clear, measurable objective for your campaign that is outlined in your influencer contract. You’ll also need to provide all necessary details for the duration of the campaign—such as hashtags, handles, product specifications, key messages, post verbiage, number of posts, duration of the campaign, approval process and so on—as well as compensation. How much creative freedom you provide an influencer is dependent on your brand and campaign, but this must be communicated from the get-go to avoid confusion and an unsuccessful partnership.
Overall, influencers provide a valuable resource for brands—if used effectively. Implementing the tips outlined above, or working with a reputable agency that has the experience and contacts to build effective influencer partnerships, will be the first step in helping your brand get the most value out of your influencer partnerships.
Influencer Marketing Fast Facts
Below are a few more facts about influencer marketing to consider before launching your next campaign:
- 67% of marketers believe that influencer marketing campaigns help reach a more targeted audience. (Social Media Today)
- Instagram was the No. 1 social media platform for 92% of influencers in 2017. (Sprout Social)
- Influencer marketing has the potential to generate up to 11x the ROI of traditional marketing. (Social Media Today)
- In 2017, 83.9% of all #ad posts were from women. (Klear)
Meaghan Baxter is the Content Manager at Anstice Communications, Canada’s leading boutique agency specializing in meaningful disruption strategies and FX.